Transition From the City to the Suburbs: Part II – An Update

i moved to the suburbs and lived to tell the taleWe’ve been in the suburbs for nine months now and in some ways, it’s felt like forever.  In other ways, it’s only been a minute and I sometimes want to drive “home” to our condo in Wicker Park when I’m in the city.  I wrote this post about why we left the city here, but it was literal days after our move and hadn’t quite sunk in yet.  I was feeling very overwhelmed the first six months after the move and it had to do with the fact that we moved to the suburbs, but I also made a major career change (read about it here), and I was experiencing a bit of culture shock.  So here I am, almost a year later and I’ve lived to tell the tale.  My synopsis:  I like the suburbs.  I still miss the city.   I miss our old neighborhood.  I don’t miss condo living with two big boys.  Lastly, I’m in the city often so I can get my fix that way.   And bonus: I take the car or train to the city which gives me plenty of time to catch up on podcasts (thanks for your recommendations – here!).

What I Love:

The kids are loving it.  The town where we live is just so family-centric and the amount of activities, sports, and events is just endless–even in the winter!  There’s a real sense of community; our neighbors are so nice and we’ve made some friends.  Harry loves school and camp, Teddy loves the libraries and parks, and they’re both in their respective elements.

It’s easier to DO things (with kids). I forgot that free parking and parking lots existed–guess I had been in the city too long.  Also, I don’t get road rage like I did in the city.

SPACE.  Glorious space.  We don’t live in a mansion but MAN, does it feel good not to be on top of each other.  No neighbors below us (they’d bang on the ceiling every time our toddler breathed) or having to take the kids out of the car in the alley because our doors barely opened in the garage. We hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas and actually have the space for guests!

What I Don’t:

The food.  I knew I would; Chicago has one of the greatest food scenes in the world! So yeah, the suburbs and our five restaurants can’t really compare.  BUT, we are pretty good at still making it down to the city for date nights or to visit friends with the kids.  We do have a great coffee shop nearby and we’ve become regulars–that’s been our saving grace because we miss the great coffee shops in the city.

Lack of diversity.  This has probably been my biggest pain point of the move and I’m acknowledging that it sucks.  Even Harry noticed that there weren’t people here that looked like his friends in the city (ugh, it’s a punch to the gut when your 4 year old notices it).  I, too, grew up in a pretty non-diverse area, but my parents did a great job of exposing me to other cultures; it’s on me to do the same and I’m going to make good on it.  Plus, we’re we take the kids into the city pretty frequently (I still have family and friends there) so that makes it a little bit easier.

What I’m Excited About:

New friendships. Turns out, making friends as an adult is hard.  It’s especially hard when you work from home.  But I’ve made a few friends up here and so far, so good!

The great schools.  Harry heads to Kindergarten next year (I can’t believe it) and I’m excited for him because he really enjoys school and learning.  The school district we’re in is pretty progressive (i.e. minimal homework until 4th grade, focusing on the social development of the child first, etc) and I’m really looking forward to joining that community.  And Teddy will go to preschool next year – he will love it!

More renovations: Love this old house but I also like (carefully) tearing some of it apart.  Our master bathroom is DONE (except for shelves, towel bars, etc) and we’ve moved back into our bedroom.  Next up: the boys’ green bath (check out my plans for it here).  But really, the master bath was the only room we changed structurally, but the little updates here and there have been fun!  Just need more money so I can do more to the house (ha).

21 comments

  1. I LOVE the lack of diversity in Winnetka. That is really one of the most appealing things about it. It’s really too bad you don’t appreciate it! Maybe Evanston was a better fit for your family. Same proximity to the lake and far more liberal and diverse.

    • I’m really sad to hear that you ‘LOVE’ (your emphasis, not mine) a lack of diversity. Why do you feel this way? Experience and learning from people different from you is beautiful; we are all more alike than you think.

    • I’m really surprised to read this comment. I believe I’m allowed to both like the community I’m in and also recognize that there are things that are lacking. I don’t want to live in a world where we’re all the same–what fun is that? I moved to a big city after college to be exposed to all that it had to offer, including diversity and I miss it. It doesn’t mean I need to move somewhere else because I think that.

  2. Thank you for this post.

    I grew up a city kid and my husband and I are talking about moving to a suburb to start our family. Comments like the one above is my biggest fear of leaving the city. Diversity should always be embraced 🙌🏼

    • Almost everyone I’ve met lived in the city before moving here and you’ll probably encounter the same thing! You’ll find your people 🙂 So cool that you grew up a city kid! I always wanted to be a city kid growing up. (also, based on that comment’s IP address, I don’t believe it’s real)

    • Skokie and Evanston are EXTREMELY diverse. A really great mix of cultures; not all suburbs lack diversity and we’re right next to Winnetka.

      • You’re right, they are! Just speaking from my own experience but we do head down to Evanston sometimes and love the Exploratorium in Skokie 🙂

        • Forgot to mention – check out Libertad (on Lincoln) in downtown Skokie, if you’re looking for a “city”-esque restaurant in the burbs. 5 min away from the exploratorium. Great for a date night!

          (I also moved from the city… 5 years ago after I started my family. I feel ya!!)

  3. I’m so glad that overall you saw that the suburbs was a good move for you! The parking and more space sure sounds nice. The lack of diversity is definitely something I am concerned about. When my parents moved us from the city to the suburbs, it was a major adjustment and it constantly made me want to move back to the city. Hopefully by the time we will need to move to the ‘burbs, things have change. And girl, you are doing an awesome job with your new home. Love seeing what you’ve done with the space! GOALS!

    http://www.rdsobsessions.com

    • You experienced it firsthand! I moved here because this is the only area where I know a few people, proximity to the lake and awesome schools. I believe being exposed to diversity is a good thing–it makes you a more empathetic citizen of the world so it’ll be on me to instill that upon my boys.

  4. Aside from that gross white power comment (which I’m going to assume is some random troll given your note about their IP), I really appreciated this post! I feel very torn between raising our kids in the city vs. the suburbs, and it was nice to read a relatively frank discussion of your move and transition. And I think you must be doing a pretty decent job of introducing your kids to diverse groups of people if your 4yo noticed everyone around him looked the same.

  5. I personally love when people who don’t know me tell me what might be better for my family. It’s enlightening. Also, definitely a great idea to ensure that all liberals live in one city because then people with different opinions don’t have to interact. Solid way to move into the future.

    Sarcasm aside, I live in the city and am not sure I could move to the burbs but I love visiting them for a lot of the reasons you’re enjoying your move. Happy for ya!

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