The City or the Suburbs?

The City or the Suburbs?

Julia Cho
Jul 6, 2010

It's certainly something that comes up quickly once you're expecting a child, and even more so once that child is mobile - very mobile! Do you bear the grit and the grime of city life - the small living quarters and preschools with waiting lists - because it's a trade off for rich cultural experiences, great food, parks and museums? Or do you bolt for the suburbs, pull into your driveway, and watch your kids play in your very own backyard?

"At some point, the benefits of the city are not worth the things you need to give up," says Jessica Buchman, a senior vice president at Corcoran Real Estate, in a recent New York Times article quantifying which will cost you more - the city or the burbs.

When we were expecting our first child in a small one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, we called on a friend who had also lived with her first child in an even tinier one bedroom on the Upper West Side. She told us it'd be great because everything we'd need for the baby would be right there in arm's reach. Well, that was true, but we still started to feel things were a little tight.

Besides small living quarters, there's the backyard factor that becomes even more appealing once your little one is enjoying playing outdoors.

But if you're also thinking about moving to the suburbs because of the lower cost, the Times has done some calculating for us, and the results may surprise you. It turns out with the cost of commuting, owning and insuring a car, and property taxes, a house in Jersey comparable to one in Park Slope, Brooklyn, costs more to live in on a monthly basis.

UNLESS, unless, of course you choose to send your child to private school in the city, which will immediately make the suburbs a much better deal. The income taxes in NYC will also be higher.

The article provides a lot of food for thought if you're thinking about the move, but we also agree with the Times that the "math" will greatly vary depending on your city and the home you purchase. They chose an upper middle class budget for their analysis. However, if you bought a smaller starter home in a suburban town with lower property taxes, the results would probably be completely different.

How about you? Did you make the move or happily stick it out in the city? What was your reasoning?

(Images: Flickr Members Jay Woodworth and Vagawi licensed for use under Creative Commons.)

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