Observations on NYC vs Suburbia

NYC vs Suburbia

Moving out of a New York City apartment and into a house in suburbia is a big change. Okay, that’s an understatement. There’s almost nothing similar about our life in New York and our life now. As we’ve been getting settled in, Johnny and I have found ourselves thinking aloud all our thoughts, observations, and musings on the two different lifestyles. So we wanted to share some of them today:

  • The sound of blaring taxi horns and passersby outside our window was oddly comforting. We’d become attached to all the sounds of the city and feeling a part of the hustle and bustle surrounding us.
  • I’m feeling really intimidated to drive anywhere or go grocery shopping with two little ones on my own. For some reason, sticking Sally in the stroller and putting Wynn in a front pack and trekking all over the UWS on foot felt much more doable.
  • We’re really feeling spoiled by the simple pleasures right now, especially central AC. Once summer hit in NY, I don’t think I was ever not sweating. It feels so luxurious for our home to be a comfortable temperature at all times.
  • Getting deliveries takes so much longer here. Amazon Prime would often arrive the next day (including Saturdays and Sundays). Here, I ordered something Thursday night, and I didn’t get it until Tuesday.
  • Also, I miss having my groceries delivered! But on that note, I love having affordable groceries again. We are two minutes away from a Costco and a Walmart, and the prices make me want to cry tears of joy.
  • We bought a tub of ice cream, and it didn’t feel like a splurge. Certain foods were only bought for special occasions in NYC, and ice cream was one of them. It also occurred to me that we can buy more fish and red meat again, both of which were too pricey in the city.
  • We don’t know what to do with all of our closet space in our bedroom. I’m rediscovering shirts I’d forgotten about because they were so squished together in our NY closet.
  • Sally can now go to the bathroom in her very own bathroom finally. Because she’s so new to being potty-trained, she almost always announces her need to go to the bathroom every time Johnny or I are about to go. And with our one bathroom in our NY apartment and her tiny, impatient bladder, that could get precarious…
  • I miss talking to strangers on a daily basis. Because of the sheer number of people we’d encounter each day in NYC, we’d end up having a short conversation with at least a few, either from sharing an elevator or them helping me up and down stairs with my girls, or holding the door open for each other. It’s just not the same here. I really grew to love the people of NYC this time around.
  • I still haven’t figured out our routine out here. Every day in NY was a different park, museum, or destination of some sort. Entertainment was waiting for us at every turn.
  • Being back close to nature and seeing the stars at night makes us feel alive. We love the outdoors.
  • We’re getting far less exercise. Walking around New York, I’d rarely have days that I didn’t walk at least 4 miles with the girls, and some days were more than 10 miles. We’ll have to be much more intentional if we want to stay active here!
  • Not having shared walls or downstairs neighbors to worry about offending with our loud children has been life changing.

There’s so much more I could share. Really, I could go on forever. But I’ll stop there. At times, we find ourselves missing aspects of the city, and NYC will always have a special place in our hearts. But we’re also looking forward to this next chapter in our new home, especially being able to afford as much ice cream as we want :). What kind of life suits you best — city or country? Johnny and I have decided we’d like to settle near one of the big cities but probably not right within it, so I guess we fall somewhere in between.

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  • Reply Amber August 12, 2015 at 8:08 am

    I’m definitely a country girl. The city is fun to go visit but I love hanging on my back porch listening to our creek. We see deer all the time, just yesterday I saw a buck that was right next to our driveway! It was so cool. I do wish our area was more walking friendly. I can walk my dog around my neighborhood and I can reach a few shops and restaurants, but otherwise I can’t really walk anywhere else.

  • Reply Brian August 12, 2015 at 8:19 am

    I enjoy the suburb we live in. We aren’t too far from the city and are a fairly easy bike ride to stores and restaurants. Its probably why where we live is consistently rated as one of the best places to live in our state and one of the best places to live in the country.

  • Reply Lili August 12, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Great points…some of which I have not thought of at all! We mirrored your position this year and spent the year in Boston, with a toddler, pregnant and then had a baby (boy) Easter weekend and just moved back to the South.

    I knew I missed the exercise and the seemingly ease of walking out the door with two kids BUT forgot about the daily people interaction. I miss the people being a stay at home mom!

    Amen to no neighbors overhead and more closet space!

    Best of luck in Suburbia! We fall in between as well I believe.

  • Reply Carlotta@Hoquasifinito.blogspot.com August 12, 2015 at 8:28 am

    What kind of life suits you best — city or country?
    I wish I knew! here in the old continent we don’t have the kind of big cities like in the States, but still there’s a huge difference between country and city.
    hopefully I’ll figure it out someday.

  • Reply Suburban Snapshots August 12, 2015 at 8:48 am

    We moved from Boston to a nearby burb on the coast. I can still walk to the grocery store, I still talk to strangers (though in New England that’s always a different enterprise than in NY, where people tend to be more receptive to it) and the biggest benefit we had right away was being able to drive somewhere at night and come back and be able to park. It’s been 8 years and I do truly love our neighborhood, and the ease of our life. I visited my hometown on Long Island last weekend and there is not a chance I could handle that life again. So much congestion, so much waiting. Best of luck to you!

  • Reply Mrs. Crackin' the Whip August 12, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I am incredibly curious about big city living! Loading 2 kids in the car = no fun! Speaking of ice cream, I was at my local Kroger and spotted Grater’s ice cream for $15! I took a picture and it’s getting posted on my blog! Oh yeah! I have some very strong feelings about this that I haven’t quite worked out yet. Note I don’t live in a high cost of living area! To put it in perspective, the store brand, same size, plain Jane variety goes for $2.50!

  • Reply Meg August 12, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Awesome post! I’ve pretty much always lived in a rural suburban environment (not complete farm country, although they’re nearby, but urbanites would laugh at the lack of restaurants open on Sundays and Mondays ;-)), so I can’t say from experience, but it’s a big conversation in our house right now. We’re house hunting and one day feel that we’d like the solitude of Walden-esque living; on other days, we like the idea of finding a neighborhood for our kids to grow up in, with kids nearby and things to do. Don’t think we could do a big city, but an actual suburban deal might work.

  • Reply Miss PF August 12, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I live in the city now, but I think I’m a country girl. It’s just so much less expensive out in the burbs! Although, I will say, I also love going outside and meeting new people every day, along with the never-ending list of adventures that you can encounter just around the corner.
    It is much more convenient in the city!

  • Reply kirsten August 12, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I live in the CT suburbs about an hour and 15 minutes from NYC. I much prefer the suburbs but like that I am able to go into the city whenever I want to.

  • Reply Ali @ Anything You Want August 12, 2015 at 10:07 am

    I think I am in the same place as you, that I’d like to be near a city but not in it. My one caveat is that I hate commuting, so if I have to work in a city then I will need to live very very close to that city. I do like the idea of living in a place with a little more space, a little less chaos and a slower pace of life.

  • Reply Zoë August 12, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    I’m a city girl for sure. We lived in a small rural Tennessee town for almost 6 years and we didn’t like it. It was not the experience we expected. It was really, really hard to make friends, even with the parents of our kids’ friends. They did not like outsiders at all. We have now lived in Atlanta for two years and I love it, even with the traffic and lack of decent public transportation. This city is much more neighborly than that small town, and has a strong sense of community. And there are so many parks and other places of interest. In an ideal world, there would be more opportunities to walk to the local stores in our particular neighborhood, but other parts of the city do have that. We just can’t afford to live there. Dang hipsters!!

    I grew up in London, so city life is in my blood. I just need to know there are people around me. My in-laws live in a very rural part of TN (the county has the same population as the town we used to live in), and while it is beautiful and peaceful, I hate we have to drive 30 minutes to go see a movie or get a cup of coffee. It’s just not for me.

  • Reply Rachel August 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I am a city girl, I’ve always lived in cities, often right in the middle, amd loved it. I love exploring cities, New York a couple of year ago was amazing. My parents curently live in London and it’s fun visiting all the things.

    But then I fell in love. And my partner grew up by the sea. While we met living in the city in just seemed to make sense that our forever house is in his hometown (too many cities for me to call any ‘home’) by the sea. I love my house, I love the town, I love the sea… but I’m glad that within an hour we can get to work, museaums, theatres, big shops (not gift/tourist things), international restaurants. I tried to look for work closer to home and there are mainly minimum wage jobs or local council jobs so I keep the commute. Mostly I am happy with my desicion but some days I wish I had a city crash pad too.

  • Reply Jen C. August 12, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    I genuinely love both! I live in the country now, and nothing can compare to that feeling of being in the midst of God’s creation. But the city just has so much to offer it’s a blast living in it! Ultimately, I think suburbia suits me just fine.

  • Reply NZ Muse August 12, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    City! But preferably not in the heart of it – need a bit more space and greenery around me.

  • Reply Julia August 12, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    We’ve been doing the big city living in Shanghai for 3 years now for me and more for my husband. I can safely say that it is not my preferred lifestyle. I love some of the same things that you do: interacting with people and walking everywhere. But in general, I think I am better suited to suburbia, or at least a smaller city.

  • Reply Rob August 12, 2015 at 7:18 pm

    I’m a suburban dude, Joanna. Our McMansion is located out in the suburbs of Toronto, not right downtown but not out in the boonies. In others words, we live on a quiet side street, with a front and back yard of reasonable size, close to shopping / entertainment / (which we can either walk to, take public transportation to, or drive our car to).

    Right now it’s early days for you guys in your new home / neighbourhood. Give yourself time to make some friends.

  • Reply Nicole August 12, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    I definitely trend towards city or at the very least close to the center of town. Having lived in towns and cities of various sizes, I’ve found that it’s not necessarily the size of the city that appeals to me most, but it’s the proximity that I have to the things around me. I love the convenience of being in a walkable area and not having to spend too much time getting to the places I want to go.

  • Reply Tarynkay August 13, 2015 at 1:11 am

    We live in an older interior suburb of a small city and we love it. Our neighbors are close and we are friends with most of them, we end up talking with various neighbors most days. We can walk places (I agree, SO much easier than getting kids in and out of the car) but its also easy to drive places, which is nice. I grew up in a rural area which I enjoyed as a kid, but I wouldn’t want to go back to that level of isolation.

    After I married and left home, my husband and I lived in LA for five years. We loved many things about it- we lived in Hollywood and walked or took public transit everywhere and there was always something to do. But it was also just hard, and we both wanted to live someplace easier.

    With 2 small kids in the suburbs, I highly recommend seeking out a mom group or even just meet-ups. I think this would really help you get settled in and figure out this routine. Of course, maybe you already have one through the church, but sometimes it helps to be involved with more than one.

  • Reply Jenna Kaye August 13, 2015 at 8:55 am

    A few weeks ago, you posted about a NYC staycation and listed several activities you wanted to do on your $150 budget. I was curious if you were able to do many of those activities and if you were going to write a follow-up post or did the move change those plans?

  • Reply Kendal August 18, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    If my husband had his way, we’d live in the sticks as far away from humanity as possible. As much as I love the outdoors, I also love the convenience and modern amenities offered by a mid-size city, so I’m somewhere in the middle, too. I’ve never lived in a big city but when I traveled to Chicago recently, I marveled at how much exercise I got without even trying! Walking is by far the easiest way to get around and by the time we made it to our destination (typically food-related), I felt I had earned my meal. I LOVE the photo you chose for this post – all of your photos, in fact, are a pleasure to look at. Well done!

  • Reply Arin August 21, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    I moved from NYC to SLC myself, (about 16 years ago) — its been so interesting to read your adventures moving back again. I totally agree about NYC means you get plenty of exercise by walking everywhere, and I miss that about city life. But I would rather live in Utah than anywhere else–I learned that after a fair amount of moving around. The Avenues in Salt Lake is a good neighborhood for walking to different stores, if parking and parking lots are getting on your nerves (they get on mine fast!) I walk to Trader Joes, Smiths, etc. all the time, and while its not the excitement of the city, it is enjoyable. Welcome back to Utah! 🙂

  • Reply Melanie September 4, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Welcome back to your old home state! Id check out meetup.com. Whenever I moved to a new city (Philly), and then back home (suburbs of Boston) I join groups and it always helps me meet people and get involved. I bet there are some nice mom’s groups too. Worth looking into! Best of luck getting settled in, while mourning the loss of one city, celebrating the adventures of the “new” area. 🙂

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