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March 27, 2005

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B Watson

Metro, welcome back. As someone who left the Upper West Side for The Woodlands, TX, I can tell you that I prefer being out of the city. You know I got nothing but love for you man, but it's long been my contention that people in NYC suffer from an advanced form of cognitive dissonance. For my money, I'll take the green grass and ability to let my Chickpea run free in the streets. Hell, I am such a cliche, I live on a cul-de-sac...and three out of four houses in a row on my street have pregnant women! Yikes!! Cliche or not, my wife and I agree that living here is better for the kind of people we are. She even told me that moving back to Manhattan was a divorce level event.

In Manhattan, I just felt trapped, and money jumped out of my pocket. Here in Texas, well I can go for a nice long bike ride and see cows, but also drive a short distance and get some great food. If I really feel like getting the NYC experience, expedia is good like that. Preference, however, is based on the individual, and if you love it, stay and be proud.

cam c.

Just wanted to comment from the other side of the border... I'm living in downtown Vancouver (Canada, not the one in WA), which I believe is one of the three most densely populated areas in North America, along with Manhattan and San Francisco. (I know a lot of Americans are probably shaking their head and going "Populated with what, moose?", but it's true! This is one packed in city... stuck between the mountains and the ocean with no place to go but up...)

Anyway, I love it here... property crime rates are a little high (actually WORSE than New York, I believe... never leave a penny in your car or the wandering crackheads from the East Side will smash your window for it) but otherwise, it's a very safe, clean, well planned city. Yeah, we have some of the same problems as New Yorkers (highest rents in the country, ridiculous prices if you're buying a place) but I really prefer this to the suburban/rural setting I experienced growing up in the province next door, Alberta, which for those of you who don't know, could best be described as "Like Texas with crappy long winters".

Sky high housing prices, having a crib stuffed in our 1-bedroom 560sq. ft. apartment, and panhandling homeless folk are a small burden to bear for having parks, libraries, museums, grocery shopping, and the beach all in 15-20 minutes walking distance.

Poppa Large

MD - welcome back.

As someone who lives in the OTHER most expensive city in America, it comes down to real estate too. Sam and I would ideally like to stay in San Francisco but even though our combined income is in the six digit range, we can't afford anything bigger than a condo. It's not like we're entitled to a friggin' 4BD/2B, 3 car garage house at affordable prices, but we feel as if our choices come down to either A) owning a home but not in a neighborhood we like or B) renting where we want to but never gaining equity.

It also doesn't help that I've been reading stuff like Gladwell's The Tipping Point which says that a good neighborhood with bad parents is actually better than a bad neighborhood with good parents. Great - no pressure there!

P.L.

Matthew

First, welcome back!

Second, I lived in NYC for six years (four for undergrad and two to "experience" New York) and while I loved New York for all the things that you mentioned (except I've never been too particular about who cuts my hair), I had a difficult time visualizing myself raising a family in New York. Having grown up on the West Coast, I have a certain appreciation for the slower pace in life that New Yorkers simply don't have. While sushi and the proverbial melting pot are strong attractions, I'm also attracted to slow walks on the beach, wiffle ball games in front of our house, the sense that one block away is, simply, just a block away - not 10,000 people away.

Having said all that, I'm also acutely aware that a childhood experience is as good as parents make it. For a child to experience NYC through the eyes of a caring adult can be a gift in itself.

david

Welcome Back MD!

We've both lived in the shadow of NYC our entire lives. Now we're up in Westchester County, NY about an hours drive from mid-town and I think it's just the right balance for the kids. We have a huge yard, neighborhood with other kids, lots of nature (there's a wetlands preserve behind our property), great schools, yadda yadda and we're only an hour from the City.

The best part of it all is we can open the back door and the kids can just run outside. No schlepping down the block to the quarter acre of concrete and dog poop that passes for parks in Manhattan.

Interesting point - when our neices (aged 7 and 9), who live on the Upper East Side, come up to visit they refer to our backyard as our 'park.'

Brent

Welcome back, Metro!

My wife and I have been going back and forth, debating whether we should move out of the city soon. We've been living in Manhattan most of our lives and, like you mentioned, our reason for moving would be for more space. I'd like to move to the suburbs. My wife wants to stick it out in the city. Our boys are still young (2 and 4) so we have a little time before we make the decision. But it's a tough call. I love how the boys thrive here. They suck up knowledge like sponges and it's fascinating to watch them interact with the world around them. But at the same time, I want them to have open fields, little league and outdoor barbecues (all things I had when I was young.) Obviously, we all know the pros and cons of moving outt of this expensive rat trap. But it's constantly an ongoing debate. We'll have to see what happens. Maybe we'll reach a tipping point and our hand will be forced one way or the other. But for now? We're here and we're taking advantage of every minute!

JJ Daddy in Savannah's Baby Momma

Ah, youth. The Peanut's, that is.

I've just spent the last week trying to wangle my kid into the LEAST horrible public school in Savannah (privates are not only out of our price range, they're out of our belief system as well; private here = totally white = not reality). And this in a city with an otherwise EXCELLENT quality of life.

We lived downtown with our first child, in a loft over a store, enjoying the best of both worlds - urban living in a smaller-sized city. The twins changed all that, and there was no way we could cram 3 cribs into a 2 BR loft. So began the 1 mile exodus to the "suburbs" (a lovely, historic in-town neighborhood).

I'm married to a native of the Upper West Side, and have watched his sibling struggle with school choices in NYC, eventually to give up and move out to the Kuntry. I've seen other life-long NYC friends struggle with the whole getting-into-the-right-play-group-to-get-into-the-right- preschool- to-get-in.... and it's brought a bunch of agressive NYC-ey types to their KNEES.

You can raise a baby/toddler ANYWHERE. It's when you're confronted with abysmal school choice that the quest to evacuate kicks in. And no, the schools are NOTHING LIKE they were 15-20 years ago when you were there, no matter what a fine, upstanding, contributing member of society you've become thanks to your positive public school education.

I realize no matter where I live, it's up to me to make sure the Gang has a diversity of friends, experience, tastes, travel, etc. Moving to the 'burbs does not immediately equate loss of brain tissue and a buy-in to all that it entails (gas grills, manicured lawns and friends that look like we do) but it does require work to keep it from creeping in and taking over.

linda

Hi, I'm new to lurking here. I'm enjoying your site immensely.

I moved to NYC three days after I was born, so I consider myself a true NYer. I can't imagine living anywhere else (London is deadheat) even after 9/11.

I have a two year old daughter who loves seeing her aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents. To move elsewhere, even if it's an hour's drive would be a true heartbreaker for all of us.

The city has so many offerings for a child- there are zoos in each borough, children museums in Manhattan and Brooklyn, numerous parks, indoor playgrounds and on and on. Even most restaurants are becoming very child friendly. Most importantly, there are so different cultures and food my daughter can learn from. This is her backyard.

chip

I grew up in the suburbs, with lawns, little league, and all that other stuff. And I lived in Manhattan as an adult, for ten years, until my daughter was 2.

My wife and I both decided there's no way we would ever live in suburbs. I found and continue to find them stifling, unreal, too white, fearful of the real world, the exact opposite of all the best parts of NYC. Given the choice of a tiny apartment in Manhattan or Brooklyn, or a 3500 square foot house in a suburban development, we'd choose NYC every time.

And we would have loved to stay in NYC, for all of the reasons you mention, MD. I feel like my children have been cheated, and are worse off for not having experienced growing up in NYC.

But the money factor is a big thing. I couldn't find a job that paid enough to stay in Manhattan or Brooklyn, and there's no way I'd commute from a suburb. So we ended up moving to a small NE city, where we live in a downtown neighborhood. It's certainly not NY -- housing is affordable for one thing. But it's got an urban feel -- people in our suburbs think we live in a "dangerous" neighborhood, which shows you how out of touch with reality suburbanites can be.

But every time I visit NYC I feel like I'm back home, I wish my kids could have grown up there, and I feel that tug, but then when I start talking to friends about real estate prices I realize this is a dream that won't be coming true anytime soon.

landismom

I'd just like to interject the comment that not all suburbs are lilywhite and full of privilege. We live in a first ring suburb. In the city that we live in a suburb of, 80% of the kids in public schools are kids of color. There is some diversity, but for the most part, it's a pretty segregated place to live, and the 20% of the kids in the schools who are white often live in the best neighborhoods, and go to school with other white kids. There is no real economic diversity in those schools, although there is some racial diversity.

In my daughter's kindergarten class, about 55% of the kids are kids of color. But there is a lot of economic diversity, as well as racial diversity. I'm a firm believer in the idea that kids do well when exposed to other races/cultures/religions, etc. But I think that economic class has to get in there too. Hell, I sent her to a preschool where she was the only white kid in her class for three years because I wanted her to be in that environment.

My point here, really, is that NYC is not the only place in the country with great diversity. If that is one of the main things you are looking for in a community, you can find it in cheaper places with more open space.

Taz

I'm a born and raised New Yorker, and planning my immenant departure from the City. One toddler, one on the way, one bedroom apartment. For what a 2 bedroom would cost in or around us, I could get a three bedroom townhouse with new kitchen, jacuzzi, and boat slip in the suburb of DC we are planning to move to. School is the big issue for us - my son could go to a private school here in Manhattan, where I went or brave the public school system and hope to get into Stuyvesant. Neither option is appealing to me, and luckily, I work in a job where don't have to be in NYC. Dunno if/when we'll move, but I hope it's soon.

elsi

i am the product of suburban life. sure, i'm only still in college and what would i know about how i missed out on city life. but i do know. everything i have ever needed has only been 10 minutes away, EVERYTHING. truth be told, i do only live 15 minutes from the city-city, but i have to take the interstate and downtown expressway and pay two 50-cent tolls to get there and then find some place park, so much trouble.

when i tell people i'm from richmond, they always ask me what to do there, like i'm the "the best of richmond guide" that knows everything. but i don't know anything. downtown might only be 15 minutes away, but i don't live there; i don't know which restaurants have good food, i don't know which bar has the best beers during happy hour, i don't know where you can go to see live music, i don't know how to navigate the streets, i don't know which parts of broad st you should stay away from at night. so for me, going downtown is really a trip; no walmarts, no targets, no strip shopping centers, no malls, no huge open parking lots. i feel so...uncultured compared to people who grow up in cities.

you will cringe when you read this next sentence: i had never had sushi until i was 19 and still can't eat it when it's made with seaweed, never knew what thai food tasted like until 20, i literally just tasted indian for the first time, and i don't know the differences between chinese, japanese, thai, vietnamese, and korean food. i'm completely lacking in knowledge about ethnic food in general.

but, on the positive side, i went to a public school, never needed to worry about classes being dropped for lack of funds, and got into some really good colleges dispite not having a $75,000+ education.

Nicole

I'm not a born-and-breed New Yorker. I moved to the City several years after college to take a job and get away from a decidedly nondescript existence in that ambigious area known as "Upstate New York". I did however, meet my husband while living in the city. Our story is one of those silly "it never happens like that" stories. Two people meet on a blind date on a street corner, dinner follows - and we've been together ever since. Perhaps becasue I met the hubby there, or perhaps becasue it was just an amazing period in my life, I (we) have loved the city ever since. Between the two of us, we've lived on all over Manhattan. Eventually we moved to Brooklyn.

We had to be virtually dragged out of our Brooklyn brownstone a year ago, leaving was a decision we put off until the last possible moment. To this day the hubby and I can still wax poetic about that place, no apartment or neighborhood can hold a candle to the one we left behind in Brooklyn. It is the one place we left behind before we were ready to.

We did leave, but not becasue of want, rather because at some point we had to be pratical. Better jobs, and the opportunity to save some of that hard earned money lured us away into those nether regions known as the "metro area". I assure you, it's been a strange trip since then.

That said, the birth of our daughter has brought about the possibilities of another round of changes. Our daughter is only three weeks old, and already we look at her and look at each other, and realize it's time to consider the move back to that ambigious region known as Upstate New York. I look at her and think that suburbia, and mid-sized cities with a minimal cultural influence - don't really seem that bad. She'll have a large extended family, and a good public school education that will not cost us a fortune, she can have a large yard, and one parent at home. Those are hard arguments to come down against.

The Zero Boss

I hear rumors that Tulsa's an actual city. With Starbucks and everything. No Sbarro's every two blocks, and not many radical Black Jews preaching o n the sidewalk - but hey, not every city can be The Big Apple.

I loved the time (2+ years) that I lived in NYC. The excitement and electricity are infectious. Where else can you start your evening at 3am, and still find dozens of things to do before sunrise?

Mommy2KellyJo

I think you should live wherever you feel most comfortable. I have lived in suburban areas almost my whole life, I've also lived in Florida my whole life and Orlando is the extent of my city living. I think it's laughable that so many people, particularly from NY, think that suburbs mean "white people everywhere and no cultural diversity." My current suburban neighborhood has quite a few white people along with quite a few black people, mexican people, puerto rican people, and who knows what other kinds of diversity are lurking in this neighborhood, but it sure as hell aint a bunch of white people that look just alike. I will admit the houses are all the same, but you can't expect too much diversity now can ya?

Mommy2KellyJo

I think you should live wherever you feel most comfortable. I have lived in suburban areas almost my whole life, I've also lived in Florida my whole life and Orlando is the extent of my city living. I think it's laughable that so many people, particularly from NY, think that suburbs mean "white people everywhere and no cultural diversity." My current suburban neighborhood has quite a few white people along with quite a few black people, mexican people, puerto rican people, and who knows what other kinds of diversity are lurking in this neighborhood, but it sure as hell aint a bunch of white people that look just alike. I will admit the houses are all the same, but you can't expect too much diversity now can ya?

BossLady

BossLady here. While I wholeheartedly agree with Metrodad in trying to stick it out in the city, I have to say that no matter where you live, it's really what you make of it. Some people grow up in New York and actually have a very provincial view of anything outside of Manhattan. Manhattan may be the center of the city but it's not the only part worth knowing. I know people who only leave the island of Manhattan to go to the airport. They don’t know how beautiful the Bronx could be or how ethnically diverse Queens can be (and how amazing Chinese-Ecuadorian food can be). We live in TriBeCa and I wouldn’t feel right in saying that it’s so ethnically diverse. All our neighbors are white. Even though Chinatown is half a mile away, there’s only a sprinkling of Asians who live in TriBeCa. Residentially, TriBeCa is quite homogenous. So, it really doesn’t matter where you live. What matters is what you make of it.

I grew up in New York ever since immigrating here at the age of 3 and sure, I grew up knowing people from all different cultures and ate all kinds of ethnic foods. But you know what? I didn't learn how to swim till I got into college. So, Elsi (above post), don't feel embarrassed about not knowing the differences in various ethnic foods. I'm sure you could swim to save your life, unlike me.

As for education, I think I've developed a chip on my shoulder for this one. I am COMPLETELY a product of the public school system. My parents didn't have the money or the wherewithal to send me to a private school and yet I graduated valedictorian and went on to an ivy league. There MAY be a chance that I could have had a better education if I went to a nice elite private school but I think I did just fine. Like I said, it’s what you make of it.

As for the Peanut, she’ll grow up eating lots of different kinds of foods (MetroDad and I are foodies afterall) and she will definitely learn how to swim (but not from me)! And whatever school she goes too, you can bet we’ll make sure that she takes advantage of everything. At least that’s what we hope.

chip

Interesting note on the Manhattan real estate situation over at DailyKos:

Be Scared--I sell real estate in Manhattan

Jack

Having grown up in NYC, I moved out during college and have since lived in different suburbs in California, Pennsylvania and Texas. And I will tell you, I really do miss the diversity of NYC. Yes, you can meet people from all walks of life anywhere in the world. But there's something about living side by side and on top of other people that creates strong feelings of acceptance and makes one more open-minded. I remember growing up in the East Village as a child. In our one small building, we had us (a Chinese immigrant family), a punk lesbian couple, a family of Guyanese descent, a Russian taxi driver, a Dominican family, and a couple of international students from Switzerland. It was beautiful. And I really don't think it would have happened anywhere else but NY. So yeah...you can tell me about living near people of other races. But if you don't interact with them, then what's the point? You're not embracing the diversity that makes this country great. I miss NYC terribly (can't you tell?) I can't wait to move back someday.

Queen of Ass

Give me the country ANY DAY! Of course, "the country" in Texas is a little bit different that in NY.

Abby

My husband and I moved to NYC 15+ years ago, and now can't imagine living anywhere else. My daughter (6) is very much a city child-when I tell her she can take her shoes off in out friend's backyard she looks at me like I've LOST MY MIND and says"Eeeiiiieeewwww!!! No way!". All right then! But she gets to go to places like the Bronx Zoo and the Metropolitian Museum (sp??) of Art on a regular basis. She was sitting through full length ballets by the age of 4. She also gets a ton of exercise, just by walking. She goes to a great dance school, that has many, many students from outside the 5 bouroughs. And she think's that the cold room at the uptown Fairway (close to where we live) is really neat. These are just some of the things that I like about raising her in NYC. This is just how it works for us, though.

And Bosslady, I know that you have a ways to go before you have to worry about schools (really, @ least a couple of years), but I think that I have the same chip that you do. My daughter (whom, strangly enough we also call peanut, even now, at 6 years!) goes to public school. It's not our zoned school-she's in a gifted and talented dual language program (english/spanish, they alternate days), and we really like it. It's not perfect, for sure. But our best friends live in Montclaire, NJ, and they have had a lot more problems with the school that their kids go to. And they have very few options, much fewer than we do.

What was also a major factor for us was the fact that we have affordable, nice housing, It would be nice to have a 2nd bathroom, but I can't have everything.
It just boils down to what's better for one particular family. I know, sounds obvious, but...

Kim Voynar

It's true there's a certain energy and excitement to living in NYC that you just don't have in other places. But as for the other things: access to lots of different ethic foods, excellent art museums, theater, ballet, opera - we have all those things in Seattle, and we'll have all those things in Tulsa.

And the NYC isn't the only place in the world with diversity. In OKC and Tulsa, for instance, are a lot more culturally diverse than one might think. NYC has cultural diversity, yeah. But in my own experience there, the different cultures also largely tend to keep to themselves. When's the last time you spent a lot of time hanging out in Harlem or El Barrio?

Point is, if cultural diversity is important to you, you'll find people of different cultures to hang out with no matter where you live, and if it's not? Even if you live in NYC, you won't go out of your way to find it.

For us, we are moving from Seattle, even though we love many things about living here, because having a house with room for all our kids and land for a reasonable price is more important to us than staying here and paying out the nose. For you guys - you obviously enjoy living in NYC, and you'd miss it if you left, so do what works for you. The Peanut has great parents, no matter where you live.

Poppa Large

Sorry to disagree but one cannot "find cultural diversity" wherever one goes. Demographics being what they are, there are some places in America which are notably far more culturally diverse than others.

As someone who grew up in both white and Asian neighborhoods (and yes, there's a difference), I wouldn't want my daughter to grow up in a community that was too exclusively one or the other. Being surrounded in a sea of whiteness is undesirable for reasons I don't even need to explain but having gone to high school in a district which is now over 50% Chinese, that would be far from ideal as well.

I want my daughter exposed to a heterogenous community - class, race, heritage, etc. - because I think she'd learn so much more in that environment than in one that's too homogenous. I tend to associate that with urban spaces. If there are some truly diverse suburban spaces (especially along CLASS lines), I'd love to know 1) where they are, 2) is housing there affordable?

Croft

Welcome Back Metro!

I have to agree with you about the biggest benifit of growing up in a city, being exposed to diversity... I was born in San Francisco and lived there till I was 10 when my parents moved us 1 hour north to suburban hell. I hated it. I grew up blocks from polk street, which at the time was much like the Castro now. I went to a school where I was one of only 3 white kids in my class. And I was moved to a town where everyone was white middle class and mostly Republican. Where a friend in high school was chased down the street by kids throwing rocks and calling him a Jap (this was the early 1990's!) and another friend was disowned by his parents and most his "friends" when he came out of the closet.

As soon as I had the chance I moved right back to SF. Two years later I moved with my husband to an even more liberal city (if that is possible) Amsterdam, and now live in its outskirts in a town I liken to Berkley.

Perhaps that is an option for you, I don't know much about the east coast, but are there not cities like Berkely there? Where you have the diversity but also the option of a yard? Whatever you do, don't move to the suburbs once your Peanut has learned to love NYC, she will never forgive you!!!

alice, uptown

I was born in Hell's Kitchen, and learned to eat and walk and talk and hail taxis on the Upper East Side. One of my first memories is that my uncle tried to teach me, at the age of 5, how to play bridge. We got as far as north = the Guggenheim, west = the Met.

Then we moved to the burbs, where I spent much of my life waiting for my mom to drive me wherever I needed to go. Public transit was lousy, and if you live in the burbs as a child, you are totally dependent on a parent's driving. I did go to a diverse public school, but when I was six, I knew that, say, Sabrina was a fun friend, but I certainly didn't realize the implications of skin color and socioeconomic privilege that I had. On the other hand, I intuitively knew that friends who came to my house had to speak the way I did, and that to be as grammatical a child as I was, chances were you were probbly white and middle class, or if not, you knew how to mind your p's and q's, as they say, the way I did. I remember, at 12, being shocked (though I didn't say anything) when our furniture delivery man introduced himself as my friend Shelby's father -- she was so well spoken, she was so smart, I couldn't imagine that her dad didn't have the smarts to do something other than deliver furniture.

All of this was in the 1960s, when my burb was the first to integrate successfully, the year I went to kindergarden. If I had lived in Manhattan, I would have gone to private school from nursury school onward, and I would not have had the chance to see many, if any, children of color in my classes, because that is how the private school system (of which I am a graduate) works, or at least in the period between 1965 and 1978. (There are several types of private schools in this town, and all are distinct types: the artsy progressive downtown; WASP girls and WASP boys; offspring of Upper East and West Side Jews; and the Catholic school system, about which I know nothing other than the tuition is less expensive than a standard private school.) On the other hand, I would have seen the vast diversity of people on the sidewalk or on the bus, something the burbs do not afford.

My current take on city vs. burbs is, in the city, your kids have opportunities for culture and being physically independent that they lack in the burbs; on the other hand, the burbs are not the diversity wasteland people seem to think. In terms of cost-of-living, the big question is space and taxes. Move to the land of the white picket fence and your property taxes will almost equal what you would pay for private school here -- so I would say where to stay or where to go is a matter of personality, and overall, I vote for NYC -- it's been more than 40 years and I haven't found anywhere else in the U.S. that I would want to live. I don't ever want to feel imprisoned by dependence on a car again. (I've never owned one and doubt I ever will.)

clevrkat

Born and raised in Brooklyn, I then moved to spend my single years in NYC. I married and we still lived in NYC. After 7 years of living together in each other's faces, it got to the point, that all the things I loved about NY were started to feel like trappings. "Trapped on the island of Manhattan." I swore I would NEVER be one of those people that spend their time commuting. (I also said I wouldn't have children, and I now have a 2.5 yr old dd.)

So, now I live in the burbs in CT but only 1 hour from NYC. We live in the doughnut hole of Fairfield County, surrounded by all the rich white folks. So we take advantage of their ammenities but have very diversified next door neighbors with diversified public schools.
And, we take dd into the city whenever we want on the weekends for a trip to the park or the musuems.

But don't get me wrong, there is nothing like waking up driving 3 miles to a beach for a walk or play in the playground. There's no soot on my windowsills and I don't have the hear my neighbors having sex all the time.

It's a trade off, but if you live relatively close to the city, you can have the best of both worlds.

steve

The thought of a brutal 2 hour one-way commute every single workday of every single workyear keeps me in Manhattan. That's a quality of family life that I refuse to give up. And to those that ask "Why not move to Jersey?" my reply is constant - "If I'm packing up to move to Jersey, I might as well keep driving until I hit the Georgia border where I'll be closer to family"

panthergirl

I left NYC only because my job is in Greenwich CT. I miss it terribly now that I live in Westchester, and try to get down there as much as possible.

My daughter loved growing up in the city. We lived in Manhattan, in Brooklyn Heights and finally in Park Slope. While life is certainly different in the 'burbs, I wouldn't call it "better". Not by a long shot. In the city, children get to see people who have more than they do, and less. They learn to give change to homeless people, and even that homeless people EXIST. Kids who grow up in the city are, IMO, much more well-rounded, worldly, interesting and bright. The best thing I can do now, for my son, is to get him into the city as much as possible.

panthergirl

I totally agree that you cannot find diversity everywhere. We lived in Greenwich for 8 years and believe me...their idea of diversity is having the children of Japanese diplomats in the public school system. Even we were looked at a little cockeyed because we have :::gasp::: brown hair. Add to that the fact that we were ::::shudder:::: RENTERS, and you have the reason we moved to Westchester. At least here, most of the people are originally from the city and don't pass out when they discover that my last name is different from my son's.

landismom

In a shameless swell of self-promotion, here's a link to my own viewpoint on the city-suburbs topic: http://bumblebeesweetpotato.blogspot.com/2005/04/princess-neck-snap.html

Roger

I grew up on the UWS. I went to Columbia Prep (class of '84), which was very white, Jewish and very liberal and intellectual. My classmates were children of professionals, not millionaires. The teaching staff was incredibly dedicated, and they all lived for their jobs. It was a wonderful experience.

All but one of my classmates went on to college, and an exceedingly high percentage have gone on to do great things in business, politics, journalism, the arts, science, etc.

I'm not sure to what to attribute the success ratio; I think it was a combination of a fabulous education, and being surrounded in one's adolescence by the energy and boundless opportunity in New York.

I've meditated on what ingredients are necessary to be highly successful. By successful, I don't mean rich; I'm talking about having the wherewithal to pursue and realize your passions. Although intelligence and aptitude is crucial, I feel that environment is equally important. It's easier to be successful when you have a diversity of models of success around you.

Another crucial factor is human interaction. All successful people got that way by being voted on, in some way, by their peers and superiors.

Because of all this, my wife and I are going to stick it out in the city for as long as we can. Yes, it's expensive. We're fortunate enough to just about manage it.

Yards are overrated anyhow.

A.J.

What I find very interesting about htese comments is the irony. Time and time again people write about the acceptance and diversity in NYC, then turn right around and paint everything outside NYC as lily white suburbs where one wastes away the time eating Dominos Pizza and watching The Bachelor. A broad brush if you ask me. John Rocker would be proud.

The fact is, NYC can be every bit as insular as the Burbs, and New Yorkers every bit as judgmental. Mention country music at your next cocktail party and see how open minded the responses sound. Same attitudes, diffeent targets.
I've been in NYC 6 years and have a one year old son. I have a love/hate relationship with the city. Some days I'm ready to go and some days I love it. I do know I won't be here forever because there are other things I enjoy about life that you can't get here. As much as I appreciate being able to take my son to MoMa, for example, I would also appreciate being able to take him fishing or hiking spur of the moment. Of course I could always take him hiking in Central Park, but my idea of appreciating nature doesn't involve avoiding old white men getting BJs from homless men in the brambles.
New York's a great place, but the folks who claim the rest of America is a waste land have never really seen the rest, and some of the best, of America.

Lucy

I am right now a 16 year old girl who’s been growing up in NYC. I'm not a parent, but I can tell you as a teenager what I think of growing up here. Yeah, the main best thing is cultural diversity, (and just for your information... I can't stomach sushi). Also, it's very economically diverse, because of all the housing projects, and super rich neighborhoods in Manhattan too. Everyone takes a lot of pride in their culture, and "what you are" is the first way you categorize yourself when you meet someone...(ex Puerto Rican and Colombian). The second is what neighborhood your from.
Diversity also creates a certain amount of racial tension... but I think that's pretty minor because more or less, you all get used to each other. You get a good tolerance for people because you get exposed to people who are as different from you as possible.

Another major pro to living in the city is the public transportation. Kids in new York can travel freely as soon as they are old enough to take the subways by themselves. Also, new yorkers are very strong because of all the stairs they climb and blocks they walk. I heard in the movie super size me that the average new yorker walks 3 to five miles a day.

It is true that there are hundreds of schools to choose from, and if you work hard and fight the right fight, you can take great advantage of what the school system has to offer. There are also specialized schools for things like art, technology, medical etc..

Unfortunately, schools here have about half as much money per student then suburban schools or schools in the rest of NY state. There are so so many schools that don't even have text books, and the teachers don't even bother to come in every day - maybe three days in the week. These schools aren't as uncommon as you might think. There are also a lot of smaller progressive schools where everyone is very attentive, and the kids learn a lot... unfortunately, funding is low, so things like art and music are completely out of the question unless you have money to pay for extra curricular activities.

It also seems like there is more violence here. Maybe because there's just so many more people, but it seems like the only way to settle "beef" is to fight. Sometimes the fights are minor, but oftentimes they escalate, getting more and more people involved. They can go on for days, until finally someone is satisfied, or someone gets arrested or taken away in an ambalance. Sometimes they can go on for weeks, getting more and more violent. There's a lot of anger, and a lot of fear

Although there is more gangs and violence here, it seems like there is a lot less drug abuse among teenagers than in neighboring suburbs. I don't know why this is, but from talking to people I know who live in the suburbs, it sounds like a whole lot of teenagers don’t just smoke weed and drink, but they also do hard drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, and even shoot up or snort heroin.

I don't know why that is, but it's a huge problem in suburban high schools. It seems like everyone does drugs like there's no tomorrow. Here, if you do you do, but not everyone does, and if you do coke or heroin, your more like a crack head on the street - no one wants to end up like that.

Last summer I went to upstate new york, to Brockport, near buffalo. I stayed there for a month, doing an art program with kids from all over the state. It was my first real "multi cultural experience" outside the city and I hated it at first, but then I loved it. My friend Caitlyn always says that "In New York, no one starts shit, the only end shit. Here, trouble comes to you". But upstate, it seemed like there was no trouble at all, all you had to do was sit back and enjoy life, and go about your business.

All that being said, I am still much more happy that I am growing up in New York then I think I would be growing up in a place like upstate. I think living here has thought me things that I will carry through my whole life, for example, trying to combat all the stereotypes that are naturally in my head. Living in new York, especially in the lower east side, I have constant access to people who have so much less than me, and so much more than me. This makes me appreciate what I have, and gives me something to work towards in my future. I think all the difficulties I have when growing up in New York do not compensate for all the good things New York has to offer. Especially for a teenager like me.


Still, when I grow up, I think I want to move to the suburbs... I like all the things that I learn here, and it's a great place to be a teenager, but when I grow up I don't want to have to worry all the time, plus it smells good. The suburbs are probably an easier place to live as long as it's temporary.

Consider these things, even if your kid is a "peanut" now... in a few years he'll be in my situation, and I am just here to tell you exactly what that situation is.

Violet Flower

I think you should try to bring a little of the country into your space. Try planting a flower garden. Violets are great to give you a sense of relaxation.

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