Thursday, April 26, 2007

Urban vs. Suburban living: the most important decision. Ever.

This blog entry is inspired by my friend Christine, who started her own pro/con list on the subject, which you can find here: (hope you don't mind Christine for the shout out). And yes, her baby boy really is that heartbreakingly adorable (and well-heeled) in person!!

The urban vs. suburban dilemna is one that I'm struggling with myself. In the past 12 months, I moved from NYC to NJ (in a moment of fleeting insanity), only to move back to NYC (with relish), and then to move down to MD (hubby got a new job). And in that time, I've decided, heck, every fiber of my being is convicted, that the city > suburbs. Actually, more like:

NYC >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Suburbs

but I think understatement is more compelling.

Ok, so be forewarned, this pro/con list is entirely NYC-centric and I'm handicapped by a slight bias. Hope you enjoy all the same! I've organized by things that may be of importance if you have a child.


  • madison square park: 2 words - Shake Shack. where else can you chow on the best burger this side of the Mississippi and drown it down with a half bottle of [good] wine (for you) and creamy vanilla custard (for the baby)? YUM-O.
  • central park. free shakespeare plays and symphony/opera in the park? enough said.
  • union square park. where else will you run into a mommy/former CEO of a fortune 100 company, the next young martin scorcese working on his first screenplay, a group of homeless men playing chess who could make kasparov cry and a dog whose designer collar cost more than your spring wardrobe?

No weirdos in the park, from what i've noticed. Lots of families. Breathably clean air. People even come to fish! Note: everyone fishes in the suburbs.

Is there anything to say in defense of the burbs here? Anything at all?? Compared to the microcosm of epicurean delight that is NYC, I'd be quick to say NO.

To be fair, the burbs does have its share of non-chain eating establishments that are run by mom and pop types whose recipes date back 10 generations, use high quality ingredients and take great pride in every dish they set before you. But these are true diamonds in the rough - and there's a lot of rough in the suburbs. In other words, if you like your pasta al dente and don't care for buffets, the burbs are not for you.

On the other hand, the burbs force you into eating relatively healthy and saving tons of $$ by cooking nearly every night of the week. Unfortunately, if you haven't yet learned to cook, cooking classes aren't quite the caliber that they are in NYC so if you want to make anything other than tuna casserole, you may be out of luck.

In sum, if you like your pasta al dente and don't care for buffets, the burbs are not for you.

If you share my love affair with Target, than let's give the suburbs a point or two. Most items also cost much less at the mall than at boutiques. In fact, today I went shopping for Pedipeds for k and found that Nordstrom actually sells them for less than the price posted on the Pediped website! NYC boutiques are rich in the diversity of their products but the markups are ridiculous ($32 for Robeez at Ibza Kidz?? Criminal.).

NYC really has the kindest mommies. Sure after the first hello and asking how old your kid is she will turn up her nose at your non-european stroller and ask you whether the stuffed pig your baby is clutching is made of organic soy fiber (knowing full well it is not). But she will also generously pour you a glass of wine and share her secrets on how to lose that last 10 lbs of post-partum weight. J/k! I don't know any moms like this in NYC. The NYC moms I've been fortunate enough to meet are incredibly colorful, sophisticated, sweet women who are so taletned and wise. Not that suburban mom aren't the same - however I feel that urban moms have a particular infectious energy to them (perhaps due to the Starbucks on every corner?).

I think this just means I have to get out and meet more suburban moms and do away with my quick judgments. But for some disheartening reason, I have yet to secure a single playdate and my church is full of mommies! Perhaps I reek of desperation. Perhaps I reek of alcohol. But this is just confirming my belief that NYC moms are friendlier (the martini before noon probably helps the socialization along). In all seriousness, I think it's because most NYC moms realize that it's not ALL ABOUT THE BABY ALL THE TIME (will have to save this subject matter for a later post).

Ok , this will have to be a post-in-progess as it's very late and k will be rising with the sun. But before I go, perhaps it doesn't matter whether babies are raised in the city or the burbs, as only one thing really makes them happy: KA KA (crackers).


christine mi said...

great list, susan! more than anything, i think cooking more than 2x a week scares me. we might starve. sigh. if you ask ppl what their favorite childhood memories are, it seems a lot involve grass, swimming, etc. makes me feel like it might be inevitable. ack!

it sounds like there is a plan on your part to move back in a few years. you're still young, but what happens when you guys decide on #2?

christine mi said...

and don't you like all the space? when k gets older, won't it be nice if her (and your future kids') toys/computers/xbox aren't in the living room? what if all of that could go in a "playroom", and you and jimmy even have separate offices, etc?