Of course it is! Many families in different income ranges are doing it everyday. But I ask this question because I have a few friends who have decided to move out of NYC after having kids. Some couples we know who haven’t had children yet are already planning to leave once they do have them. The reasons usually cited are the cost of living, being closer to family, and the blanket statement that NYC is a “terrible place to raise children.” Granted, most of these families are NYC transplants and have family in other parts of the country. I mentioned in a previous post, Why Do You Live Where You Live?, that one main reason we plan on staying here is because both my wife and I have family here. It doesn’t hurt that NYC is one of the most exciting cities in the world. Here are some reasons why raising a family in NYC is a good idea and some reasons why it’s tough to raise a family here.
Cost of Housing
It is undeniable that living in NYC is expensive, significantly housing costs. We currently live in a one-bedroom apartment which is approximately 600 square feet. BUT, a small place is fine since our son is still a baby. Plus, you can optimize the area in a small apartment to maximize your usable space. We’re hoping to buy a co-op which will have a second bedroom. If we have more kids in the future, we can always get bunk beds for them! It probably is much tougher when kids are older though, but living in close quarters with your loved ones isn’t the worst thing in the world.
No outdoor space
Not having outdoor space like a backyard is related to the cost of housing. I remember fondly growing up having a backyard where we would have BBQs in the summer and my parents would buy a inflatable pool or turn on the sprinklers. Other than a balcony or a terrace, there usually aren’t any outdoor space options for apartment dwellers. BUT , you can use city parks as your backyard as there are public outdoor spaces in pretty much every neighborhood.
I think Shannon from Financially Blonde summed it up best in a comment she made on my post, Why Do You Live Where You Live?, when she said:
Things may be cheaper and commutes may be easier outside of New York; however, you also find a lot less culture and activities for kids and adults other than shopping and eating. We took our now 8 year old son to the Met not too long ago, and he loved it. He just had a field trip to the Museum of Natural History and the kids found out they could have a sleep over in the blue whale room. We took him to his first Broadway show last month and he was riveted by the production and wants to see another. We recently watched a program on Nova about the rebuilding of Ground Zero and then went to Ground Zero to see the memorial and museum. We went to a Yankees game for $20 thanks to Groupon to see Derek Jeter play his last season. Living in NY is stressful, it’s hard work, it’s expensive, but if you take back from the city what you are putting into it, you get an amazing return on your investment.
There are tons of museums, zoos, and kid-friendly attractions here in NYC. There are always ways to go there at a discounted price, and there are also a lot of free entertainment options as well. Also, while I don’t want to make a blanket statement about problems in suburbia, I work in suburbia and live in the city (well Queens), and hear many problems related to under-aged teen drinking and drug use. I’m not saying that it’s not a problem in the city, it most certainly is, I do think that boredom in suburbia is one of the causes of drinking/drug use.
One of the things I really like about living in NYC is that it is convenient and walkable. You don’t need a car to go everywhere. This was a big positive growing up too. I didn’t have to get a ride from my parents to go everywhere, which seems like the case with many kids in suburbia. When I was old enough to go out on my own, I could walk a few blocks to buy a slice of pizza, catch a movie at the local theater, or take the subway to Manhattan where there are even more entertainment options.
You can see the world in just one city! You can have Dim Sum at an authentic Chinese Restaurant (no the local Chinese food takeout spot doesn’t have that). You can have a baleada or pupusa from an authentic Central American restaurant. There are also Dominican, Indian, Nepalese, Mexican restaurants, etc…you name it, they have it here. There is Chinatown, Little Italy, and various other communities where you can experience different cultures. I also love the fact that there are many neighborhoods which are very diverse and kids will be exposed to people of every race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and class.