I recently stopped at a few garage sales, scoring a pack of sparkly pipe cleaners for a young friend at one, perusing the books at another. As I went to pay for my selection- The Night Kitchen
, in Spanish- the woman running the sale looked at me and said, "Oh, you're a teacher!", and I thought, "Only in San Francisco would a 32-year old woman buying children's books and art supplies be assumed to be a teacher rather than a mother.."And I confess, I do the same thing: whenever I see a girl about my age with a kid, I assume she's a nanny (though on the occasions when I've been able to overhear their interactions, it turned out I was right). In fact, two friends my age are nannies, but none of my friends here have kids. I was at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on this past Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and I swear I saw more kids there than I'd seen in my entire 6 1/2 years of living here. It just seems like there aren't any around.
In reality, there aren't, or at least not very many. According to The Huffington Post, "San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any major city in the country. Only 13.4 percent of the city's approximately 800,000 residents are under the age of 18." And The Seattle Times reports that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of households with children among major U.S. cities, with just 18%. For some reference, 37.6% of California households have at least one child (Wall Street Journal), while 45% of all U.S. households do (Census Bureau).
So, my fellow San Franciscans, Seattlites, Bostonians, and Manhattanites, how do you feel about living in such child-free cities? Does it suit you? Does it mean that cafes and restaurants are more low-key, more adult-oriented? I have to tell you, on that MLK Day I mentioned, the normally serene SFMOMA felt more like a playground than an art museum, with many of the kids running around and yelling. Or do you wish there were more kids and kid-friendly options for your own children? If you live in one of the areas with an incredibly high proportion of kids, how does that affect you on a daily basis?
(Image: Flickr member davitydave licensed for use under Creative Commons)