Country or City: Where's The Best Place To Raise A Baby?Monica Bielanko
“Goodbye,” said the country mouse, “You do, indeed, live in a plentiful city, but I am going home where I can enjoy my dinner in peace.”
– The City Mouse and the Country Mouse
When Serge and I first got married seven years ago we moved to Brooklyn.
We love New York City, there is no other place in the world like it. It’s so vibrant, and just walking down the street gives you a little buzz. I would constantly giggle to myself. “I’m here! I’m living in New York City!”
Two years later we moved to Utah, my home state.
Manhattan is so expensive, it was time to go. Plus, my heart was telling me children were on the horizon and shuttling babies to and fro in New York City, from my observations, seemed to be an impossibility.
We had Violet here in Utah while living in the suburbs and now, Henry too. But we’ve wanted to move closer to Serge’s family for a long time. They live smack dab in the middle of Pennsylvania. The heart of Amish Country. It’s beautiful. Rolling green hills, quaint hundred-year-old towns, and horses and buggies driven by Amish folks all add to the charm.
My mother-in-law is near retirement age and would love nothing more than to spend time with grandbabies. SCORE! Now we might actually make it to a movie more than once a year. Plus, the prospect of being able to drive to Manhattan in four-ish hours and spend the day (or weekend) thrills me to the tips of my freakishly long toes!
One of the main reasons I wanted to move (aside from all the free child care!) is that I don’t want to raise my kids in Utah. Out here in the yawning maw of suburbia is less than ideal. Lots of white, Mormon folks. No diversity. Strip mall after strip mall made of the same cream and brown stucco and stone.
I don’t want my babies to wait until their late twenties to feel the excitement a big city mainlines into your bloodstream. But I don’t think I could raise children in New York either. Expenses aside, I used to see women with children and bulky strollers on the subway, completely dependent on the kindness of strangers to make it up several flights of stairs. The sidewalks are filled with people who hate strollers. How do Manhattan mamas get babies around in the frigid wind chilled air? What if you life in a four-story walk-up? I look at Natalie, making a go of it in a 300 square foot apartment in Manhattan and I envy her for living in the greatest city on earth. I also don’t know how she does it. I could barely navigate without child and stroller.
I long for a simpler life. I want my kids to grow up playing games on the street with other neighborhood children. I want them to be familiar with farm life, I want them to smell fresh air and swim in lakes. But I also want them to be street savvy. To know how to get around on their own. To feel as comfortable on a city street as a rural dirt road. So I have chosen what seems to me to be the best of both worlds. Slow living in a small Pennsylvania village with excellent proximity to the cultural mecca of America – New York City.
Questions, questions, questions! Where are you raising your children? Are you happy about it? Would you rather be somewhere else? Why? What is the ideal setting for raising children? I want to hear what you think!
Literally, the best of the both worlds: The City Kid/Country Kid Reading List!