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Monday, September 26, 2011

Motherhood Mondays: Where would you want to raise your baby?

Alex and I have a recurring conversation topic; it comes up over dinner all the time: Where should we raise Toby?

We love New York and it has been an amazing place to fall in love and have a baby. But as Toby has gotten bigger, our apartment has started feeling smaller, and I have daydreams about having a backyard (and maybe even a grill or a hammock!).

And New York can be a tough place to live. It sounds silly, but I keep having a vision of trying to teach Toby how to ride a bike on the crowded Manhattan bike path, and having to yell to my sweet wobbly five-year-old, "Toby! Toby! To the right!!!" as groups of cyclists, rollerbladers and runners blast past. Ha, I can't get that image out of my head. Wouldn't it be nicer to learn to ride a bike in a sleepy subdivision or country lane? But then again, Alex and I are in love with the city; with some thought and practice, it could be a really rad place to grow up (I mean, there are 8,000 different kinds of pizza:).

So, I'd love to hear your thoughts: Where did you grow up? Where would you want to raise children? Your hometown? A certain city or state? Do you envision your children's childhood to be very similar to yours, or would you want it to be different? I am SO curious and would love to hear! (I always think Maine sounds amazing.)

P.S. A list of the 100 best places in the United States to raise a family.
(Top photo by Jenna Park of Sweet Fine Day; bottom photos of my sister and me growing up in England and Michigan)

404 comments:

1 – 200 of 404   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

time to move to brooklyn!

Fleur De Moi said...

I currently live in New Orleans and can't think of a better place to raise a kid. They would get part of a city life but we have (small) yards to play in. Plus the culture of this city is like none other I've ever been to in the US. Also, every person that I've ever met that was born and raised here is amazing and a lover of all things related to the arts which is something I want for my child.

naturally nina said...

Joanna, that's so funny-- We just moved to Maine in order to get settled before starting a family. :) I grew up in Norway, so I really wanted something similar: rustic, rural, safe and of course, beautiful.

Tamara Nicole said...

We're #52! Lol we live just outside of Seattle, Wa in Bellevue. We don't have kids yet, but in the near future. I love it here, the schools are great, it's close to the city but we still have a big back yard with trees, a garden, a hammock and a patio. It's safe. I think the main things to think about are safety, education, and recreational activities. I want my kids growing up with hiking, kayaking, swimming, traveling, all of the fun things kids should do.

Great thought!

Lizzy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leanne said...

Oh it has to be Cornwall, where I grew up : ) don't need to tell you how lovely it is.

The question is when to go? We feel the same about London as you guys do about NYC.

Tamara said...

I grew up in an apartment in NYC & I am now raising my child in Alaska. Its slow, calm, quiet. I have big yard with trees and a park on my block. We spend a lot of time outside everyday and all i hear when i lay my head down at night is QUIET. No traffic, no horns, no car alarms - ever. And we have a house not an apartment which means unlike me, my child will not have to fight to sleep amidst the noise of the neighbors dancing or fighting or ... its a wonderful thing. I curse the move when we have to fly 5000 to get back to visit family - but its worth it when we get home! Small towns make great kiddos!

Joanna Goddard said...

yes, leanne, the question is when to go....such a hard call!! and hard to balance all the needs/preferences of children, parents, work, etc....

Joanna Goddard said...

haha, anonymous, yes! i think it maybe is time to move to brooklyn :)

Katie said...

Thank you so much for posing this question! This is something I've been turning around in my head lately quite a bit. My heart goes back and forth between a city setting (like San Francisco) and a more rural area. I was raised in the suburbs and know it's most certainly not where I would want to raise my kids, though I can see why it is appealing to many. I'm looking forward to what everyone has to say on the subject!

Sunny Rising Leather said...

As we are pregnant right now, this is big on my mind:
I love the idea of someplace like Mendocino county here in California; somewhere my child can run wild and free... We live in San Jose and I am sure there are lovely things here, too, but moving behind the redwood curtain is my dream!

Xoxo

jacquelyn | lark + linen said...

Until I was 7 I lived in a suburb of Toronto. Moving to Toronto was the best thing that my mother could have done for us. I feel so lucky that I got to grow up in a big city, surrounded by good food, good music, great culture and tons of interesting people! I do remember being jealous of my suburban friends who could walk to school and had friends right around the corner, but I think having being forced to take the subway at 14 was good for me! I feel like I'm much more well rounded having lived in a busy city.

Alex said...

sad to see that no town in NJ is listed on the top 100 places! I grew up in Hunterdon County, NJ which is a beautiful place to live (rolling farms etc) but I think I'd like to raise kids somewhere in California or outside of Boston!

Katherine Fugit said...

I live in the 11th best place to raise a kid, Wichita, KS! Although I don't have kids, I could definitely see the appeal. Big back yards, low cost of living, good schools. I've always dreamed of raising kids in our neighboring state Colorado, though. All that hiking! Your kids would have the strongest little calf muscles EVER!: D

Michelle P said...

I would probably just stay close to where I live now. I grew up here and everyone is here. We plan on getting a big backyard with lots of acres first though.

Vicky S. said...

I was born and raised in NYC... loved it and I think I have grown up to be an accepting and cultured person. However, now that I am expecting a baby... I think it is time to leave. The rents are too high for what you get and the longer I am here the more crowded it seems to get... we are looking for ways to move up north (the Berkshires perhaps). Luckily we will always have my parents place to stay in whenever we want to come visit!

Anonymous said...

We just moved to Burlington, Vermont for that exact reason. It's a slower pace, incredibly beautiful, peaceful with a focus on sustainability, quality of life, supporting local businesses. It's such a perfect fit and not too far from NYC! We hopped in the car this past weekend for a quick 5.5 hr drive to the city.

Jessi said...

I was "born and raised" in Pittsburgh, PA. My husband and i are expecting our first... and don't have any plans on moving anytime soon.

Personally, i love Pittsburgh because you can get in and out of it so quickly. all the hills create little pockets of people. so many different neighborhoods in such a little space.

a few miles away and you're in the mountains... we have a little bit of everything we want. our little slice of heaven!

thanks so much, i love your blog! :)

Jessi

tpanddz said...

We left NYC 3 years ago and live in Pittsburgh with our 18 month old and love it. We live in a great city neighborhood with a playground and park with trails down the street and are 5-15 minutes from lots of museums, science centers, play areas, libraries and schools.
We also have both sets of grandparents nearby, so that was a big pull too.

I have to say though, I wonder if there is often (always?) an element of the grass being greener though when you are raising a child. We talk about whether we would move back to NYC ( and leave free babysitting?!?) or go somewhere warmer, or live in Europe where my husband could easily work, despite being very happy here. I guess it is good to realize that you may be happy as a family in lots of different places, for different reasons.
Trina

Kendall Marie said...

We live in Northern California, Downtown Sacramento right now. But my husband and I both grew up in Auburn, CA which is in the foothills along the way to Tahoe. We both loved growing up there, having space to run and play. We would both love to buy a home up there and raise our kids there. If not there, then some place similar. Low key and beautiful.

kaitlin said...

I don't think there's one single answer...but I believe in raising children in multiple cultures (even within one country, or one state/province), so that they might experience things they wouldn't otherwise.

Samantha said...

My husband and I both are from small towns but now we live in Chicago. We don't have children yet but go back and forth all the time on whether, once we do, we will stay in the city or leave. It's a pretty hot topic among families here and people seem pretty divided.

http://www.everyshadeinbetween.com/

Sarah said...

Los Angeles, California is number 12? I live here, I love it, but I don't have kids. Everyone I know who does has either sent them to private school for Middle and High school or moved to the suburbs.

kelsey williams said...

i've visited maine twice and have to agree that is it amazing! we're in des moines, #6 on the list you linked to (although we've placed first on other lists). so i think we'll be staying around here!

Joanna Goddard said...

yes, trina, you're so right -- every place has it's pros and cons, and i'm sure you can make anyplace work!

ebev said...

I grew up in Los Gatos, California. It is an amazing place to live! It has that small town charm and feel but it is 30 minutes from the beach (Santa Cruz), 10 minutes from San Jose, and about 50 minutes away from San Francisco. The town itself is beautiful with amazing restaurants and boutiques and trials and park everywhere. The people are so kinds and the public schools are wonderful! My dad also grew up there and went to the same school as I did and he loved them as well. I went to Los Gatos High School (look it up) so beautiful. When I am done with graduate school I am definitely planning on moving back there :) I know its far from New York but I recommend it...please feel free to email me if you have other questions!

Nicole said...

hey, we're #39! My fiance and I just bought a home in Buffalo, NY and we adore it. We live in the brooklyn-esque elmwood village and everything we could dream of is nearby. waterfront, beaches, skiing, sledding, professional sports teams, philharmonic orchestras, broadway theatre, a day trip away from anywhere in the Northeast, an hour and a half from Toronto (we have the accents and love of hockey to prove it), parks designed by Frederick L. Olmsted (yes, the same one who designed the lovely central park), Niagara Falls, a million universities, a first class medical corrider with tons of research facilities and architecture that blows people's minds (really. we're hosting the national preservation conference next month).

do i dream of raising kids somewhere more glamorous sometimes? of course, don't we all? but mostly i want my kids to be able to have a real childhood and thankfully my little big city will gve them that opportunity along with a chance for me to expose them to a variety of cultures, education, and fun in every season. Not to mention the ability to afford to take them on these excursions!

p.s. i promise i don't work for the city of buffalo tourism department, lol.

Lissa said...

my fiance and I talk about this all. the. time. right now the top runner is Leverett, in western Massachusetts, a nearby (from where we are currently) town with lots of room to spread out and nature and woods. there's no cell phone reception or high speed internet yet though!

becky said...

I'm barely 21 so the idea of raising children is a long, long way off but it probably crosses my mind a lot more than it should. I'd like to raise them in the country, most of the time. But I think raising them in the city would give them a kind of opportunity I didn't have. I'm a rural British kind of girl and I read so many blogs about city-living that I sometimes WISH I had grown up in a more happening place. I would be a different person, entirely, I think. With fewer fears and more get-go--more opportunities to pursue. But at the same time, I absolutely hate that reasoning. Even in this rural little town I feel I should make those bigger things happen--the things I so readily associate with more urban areas. I love where I have grown up--the quiet and the safety and the union with nature. It's a pretty beautiful place to be, indeed.

Liv said...

I want my kids to grow up on the ocean. I want it to be part of them. We better get out there soon.

hello. said...

i grew up in the s.f. bay area~ which was a fantastic place to grow up because it was (is) so diverse in people, cultures, scenery- you name it! we're currently living in a country setting in wisconsin @ the epicenter of chicago, milwaukee + madison, so the kids have the best of both worlds. i still dream of whisking everybody off + living abroad for a couple years though...i think it would be an unforgettable experience.

Anonymous said...

We moved to a small rural town in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Queensland from London when my firstborn was 2 years old and I was about to have number 2. This was the perfect time and place to go. So far it has been wonderful - lots of gorgeous beaches, rainforests, stunning weather, space, trees to climb, wonderful friends and community, still very close to a city and international airport etc. I think the tricky thing will be when they are teenagers though - we might want to move back to the city then.

Work is definitely something to think about but if you do something good with passion you'll be successful wherever you are. You need to make sure there are good schools nearby because they just grow so fast.

M said...

Born and raised in the French countryside, amazing place to run around as a child...then I hated it when i was a teen because you can't go anywhere without a car!

Moved to super-busy London at 22 and now 6 years later I live in Edinburgh (Scotland), perfect balance of city and countryside (green everywhere, sea, mountains or fields less than 20 minutes from the centre by bus)

Jennifer_NJ said...

The good news is as long as you are all together you are "home".

I grew up in Southern New Jersey (right over bridge from Philadelphia), but moved less south in a more country setting - great way for my kids to grow up, more space to run around, ride a snow mobile, and surrounded by farms! Can't walk anywhere - but we're happy.

When we're "older", we plan on being hybrids - 6 months in NYC and 6 months of the year in any beach town.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in a small town in California's Central Valley! It was such a great experience to graduate from 8th grade with 10 students in my class, to have teachers know my first name ALL THE WAY through school, and to get that sense of "it takes a village" to raise a child. I couldn't get away with anything because someone's mom was always around. While the valley is now economically very depressed, the type of multicultural, rural town I grew up helped me realize that even if I felt like a big fish in a small pond, every pond is important! I know I want my kids to grow up in a place that has as much cultural diversity and agricultural history as Hughson, California does!

Ashley Faye said...

Hey Joanna, I actually often think of this same question. I know you guys are in the West Village (right?) so if you want to stay in the city, I'd try Brooklyn. I technically live in the Park Slope vicinity but really, I'm far away from the stereotypes that it has acquired. We have a nice sized backyard, a quiet block with amazing parking and there are always kids playing in the streets and riding their bikes around. It's quite lovely to also be a block from Prospect Park, the movie theatre, YMCA and tons of little bodegas that still have quarter machines out front! (one of my favorite things as a kid) -- That being said, I grew up in NJ and loved it. But- it's changing by the minute and I am so frustrated with the booming population there.

Portland, Maine - it's where I'd ideally love to end up. Of course I'll need a private plane to jettison me back to NYC/Philly whenever I need it! But, Portland actually has the most restaurants per-capita in the US! Small cobblestone streets, beautiful water and a city feel. Have you been?

-Ashley Faye
ourbklyn.com

MEL said...

I was raised in small town Texas and wasn't really a fan. It was very single-minded and not very culturally stimulating or environmentally friendly. Curiously, I became a professional pianist and my passion is music education, as did my little brother. I attribute a lot of that to my liberal arts educated and employed parents, however. So, I suppose even though the town sucked, I made it out okay thanks to amazing parents. For my own kids, I think as long as I have a lot of family support around, I'll be happy. And hopefully, so will our children.

Desiree said...

I grew up all over and when I had my daughter I knew, if nothing else, I wanted her to have a stronger sense of roots than I did. Getting to live in many different places was amazing but I feel like I can get my daughter the same experiences through travel. I knew I wanted those roots to be in the northeast (where I was born). We are now living in Erie, PA and while it isn't quite as glamourous as a big city, our little city on the lake suits us just fine. That being said, I think it would have been really amazing to grow up in a larger, metropolitan area and have the confidence to take on the world (if you will) that comes with it.

Holly said...

My Hubs and I both grew up in the south with big yards to play in and we loved it. We want the same for our future children but we too live in a big city and not sure where to go- but we want to get out of the city! It's a hard choice- good luck in deciding!

Giulia said...

Every place has plus/minus.

I grew up in two cities & love them both. Pittsburgh is the one I have the best memories of & is a great place to live.

Laura said...

For me, the question is always "How fast can we get out of the city?!" If we could have a cottage or cabin an hour's drive from the city... A city like Lyon or Vancouver (close to amazing ski hills AND to the ocean!). That would be bliss - the best of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

We live outside of Chicago (literally) in Oak Park, IL. We adore our neighborhood but moved into a starter townhome just before the housing bubble burst and before our first baby was born at the end of 2004. If we want to stay in this community and buy a 3 bed / 1.5 bath home with a yard and garage (yes, yes, yes) we have to be ready to pay at least $9k - $15k a year in taxes. That hurts! Now we're looking all around in IL and across the country for a good place to relocate. We love the diversity in our community and the proximity to the city, public transportation and amazing cultural opportunities in Chicago. But the taxes in this state are really over the top and we have really thought of moving to the west (Denver, Portland, northern CA) or the east coast (Burnlington sounds lovely!). We have two kids now- one in school and one still a toddler and we can see how important it is to keep our kids in an open-minded area. Though OP is very liberal we don't require that in our future home. I will be trolling the comments today for sure!

abigail said...

Joanna! you guessed my suggestion- MAINE baby!

We moved to Portland after marrying and the seaside town, lobster rolls and seagulls are amazing. We love how close nature is and since my husband was born and raised in Alaska- it's the perfect east coast compromise! Our daughter was born there last October and sadly we had to move back closer to family while the husband goes back to school... but we will eventually settle in Maine (after living abroad hopefully!)

(my maine posts from my blog including some restaurant reviews and parks! http://tiptoethrough.blogspot.com/search/label/Maine )

And ps: there is a amazing pizza place in Portland: Otto's Pizza!

worth the visit to the city for all the great places to eat!!!

~abigail

MY MUNOZ FAMILY said...

We live in the #14 best place - Austin, TX & have a 4 year old we're raising here. We used to live in the Dallas area and decided we would rather raise our daughter somewhere that's less fast-paced & more laid back. The schools are amazing here & there's tons of outdoor things to do almost every weekend. We love living here.

Lauren Kent said...

Living in rural England, I've literally come to love every single bit about country life. I never fully appreciated until my late teens how much more freedom and environmental education you can gain from the outdoors. My hometown is where I want to always be near, although perhaps not in the town itself. Staying close is a necessity <3

--r said...

We live in a suburb with good schools (super important to us) that's close to family (also super important to us). The area is a little more urban than where I grew up, but we love being able to walk to everything (store, school, library, playground, post office, etc.).
PS - I think biking etiquette—even with a tricycle—is not easily taught, no matter where you are. I wouldn't consider our sidewalks high-traffic, and we still have issues with making room for others.

Giulia said...

BTW, bit of a weird list from MSNBC. It lists places w/very high unemployment, etc. Dumb. Just because there are low house prices means nothing. (That's one of the criteria)

Andrew Payne said...

Wherever it is that you go, it is what you make of it. My wife and I moved out of NYC when we decided to have our children, but have plenty of friends who are very successful raising very happy children right in the heart of the City. I think it boils down to the decision of where you and your spouse are most comfortable. The children will follow your lead.

LPC said...

I loved raising my kids in Silicon Valley, so many super smart people from so many cultures, so many liberals. Also wonderful weather for lots of time outside.

But it's gotten so pressured here, what with the economy and the focus on top universities, you'd have to work harder to find the right community. That said, IMO it's about the schools. We sent our kids to Peninsula School in Menlo Park, CA. Can't get much old hippier than that, which is the ethos I prefer for childreading, old hippie + good structure:).

Lost Bird Found said...

I grew up in Cambridge, Ma. It was a wonderful place to grow up. I moved to NYC, fell in love and had a baby. Then my son started walking, then my son loved lots of trees and dirt. Everytime we went up to our lakehouse outside of the city we were so much more relaxed and Henry was way happier. Then we made a huge huge move to San Juan Island off the coast of Washington. The polar opposite of where were living in NYC. I was terrified to make the move, every couple of months I freak out for an hour because I am on an island that I have to take a boat to get anywhere. My kids love it, I have more time to spend with them because I am not constantly obsessed with work (only slightly obsessed) and it was way way easier to get into the much coveted amazing preschool here. I didnt have to cut someone to get in, like in NYC. But its SUPER WHITE. My son who doesnt even blink an eye when we go back to NYC and sit on the train across from all kinds of people, pointed at an African American woman at a party the other day (on the island) and was like "THAT LADY IS BROWN!!!" So there is that. We balance by going back to NYC and our lakehouse for a month each summer. So far its working out well. And they can ride a bike down our two mile dirt road without worrying about anything but a deer running across their path.

Audra's Ally said...

After growing up in Southwest Virginia, I moved all over - Seattle, WA to Charlotte, NC. My boyfriend and I have decided to live in our hometown, (Where we both grew up) so that our kids can have the same childhood we did. We love that both of our families are still here.
No matter where you are though, home is where your Mom and Dad are, so Toby will be just fine no matter where you guys end up. :)
-Audra
http://audrasally.blogspot.com

Steph said...

I swear you read my mind sometimes! My husband and I have been talking about this for the past couple of weeks - and according to that list, Philadelphia is the 4th worse place to raise a family! I've been googling real estate in a few different areas and can't decide! Plus, I feel like it would be too hard to move away from our friends and family. decisions, decisions...

colleen said...

As a teenager I was always so jealous of kids who grew up in the city, but when I look back on my childhood, I can't imagine not having those suburban things. The freedom of riding my bike down to the town's square, buying candy, walking to friends' houses alone, camping in the backyard, plus the school system! My gosh, I cannot imagine navigating new york's school systems.

We live in new york but I think my heart is set on moving back to our college town when we have children. it's small but has culture and good restaurants and a liberal mentality because of the university. there are operas and musicals and ballets, that rival new york's (IU's music school is ostensibly the best in the country!). And, brilliantly, it's all very affordable.

I have nothing but respect for parents who manage here and I love the city, but I'm such a midwesterner at heart.

Mighty Burns said...

hmm this is tricky. I have some what of a gypsy mother. So I grew up in a city, then in the burbs, then in a mountain town. i liked them all. but find that for myself I gravitate more to the city life. i think I would raise them in the city... but take many trips and advantage of their school breaks to camp, and travel so they had their own memories of long hikes, building snow men, and so on.

CAITLIN said...

i grew up in RURAL vermont, and i absolutely loved everything about it. my brothers and i spent all of our time running around in the woods (my parents have 40 acres) and being incredibly creative. i definitely want to raise my children in a similar way, and although i moved back to vermont a few years ago, i'm thinking that maybe somewhere a liiiiittle further away from my hometown would be nice--like maine! i'd love to live on the coast. still, if this is where i end up, that will be lovely too :)

Tonia said...

Your Guide to NYC *did* get me in the mood for a vacation to the city. However, when it comes to raising kids, you can't beat small-town life.

I am biased because I grew up out in the woods in a very small town, but I think a child's imagination truly has a chance to run wild when their "playground" is the great outdoors every day. As kids, my brother and I had free rein of the 80-acre maple syrup farm my parents own in northern Wisconsin. We climbed trees, made forts, learned wilderness-survival skills, and ran around bare-footed until we were in high school. It was incredible.

I think I stayed a "kid" a lot longer than most people I know, because we weren't as influenced by societal pressures and norms telling us what we "should" be doing or what was "cool."

Don't get me wrong, we had tons of friends- we weren't completely sheltered like hobbits in the woods- but it was a completely different reality from the city or the suburbs...one in which material things don't have a hold on you and simple pleasures fill you day from morning til night. We would play music as a family around the wood-stove, eat home-cooked meals together every single night, tend the garden, play with our horses and dogs, read together, etc.

The whole pace of life is slower, too. There wasn't much time spent commuting in traffic because we lived on country roads. Very little shopping because the closest mall was 3 hours away. The focus is on what is really important in life.

Pretty great way to live if you ask me. :)

Kelly said...

#7 on the list of the best places to raise a family - Minneapolis, MN!

Nerissa said...

My husband and I talk about this all the time too! We live in DC, which we love but find it somewhat unaffordable for raising a child. Plus, schools are an issue.

Jobs are an issue for us. It seems that previously, moves were easier to do when only 1 person in the family had a job. My husband and I struggle how to find the right city for our 2 very demanding jobs that we both worked very hard to get.

It's funny you mention Maine, as just this past weekend, we were talking about moving to New England.

stephanie levy said...

We're in Munich - but I would really love to live in Berlin.... However my husband would prefer a village in the Alps so we'll see... Great topic!

mfelenyuk said...

Definitely the city, but it helps if grandparents have a house you can visit. I grew up in Kiev, Ukraine, in a small 1 bedroom apt that I shared with a dog, parents, and my sister. Smaller houses make tighter families. I could not imagine NOT raising a child in a city. DC or Brooklyn would be nice, or just somewhere where I could walk to a quiet neighborhood park, but still enjoy the city life.

Catherine said...

My parents moved around a LOT when i was a kid: from 3rd grade until my high school graduation, I never went to the same school two years in a row. It's most important to me to provide stability for my son. I want him to be able to make life-long friends and know his way around the city. By the way, we live in #21, Manchester, NH!

Jessica said...

I LOVE that you guys still live in the city. I often cite you as an example to my future husband about how to make it work in NYC (I abhor the thought of leaving!). As a brooklynite with a 45-minute commute, living in Manhattan seems key--shortening commutes means more time with babies. However we live off the Church Ave stop off the F, and our block is FULL of children. It's quiet, every house has a garage and tiny backyard...its quiet, children play in the street and neighbors socialize on the porch (we love that it reminds us a little of Michiga!)....I'm constantly weighing the pros and cons of both!

Erica said...

My husband and I have this same discussion all the time. We live in Manhattan, and while we don't have any kids yet, but I do want to have our babies here and be here for a few years after they are born. We've decided that once the oldest is school age, we will leave the city; the question is for where. My husband grew up in Scarsdale, NY and I grew up in Montgomery, AL, so our childhoods were vastly different. If I'm not in the city, I don't feel the need to stay in New York state. My husband would love to livein Westchester, but I'm more willing to look at other, warmer, more affordable parts of the country. The Carolinas and Georgia are especially appealing to me. But ultimately, we will go where my husband's job takes us.

liz @ bon temps beignet said...

New Orleans!!! Without a doubt. Culture, food, amazing people. Of course I grew up there so I'm partial. I live in San Diego (sorry SD, you AREN'T the greatest place on the face of this earth!) and I have a little one on the way, so I have a good feeling that this lil dude will be racking up some major frequent flier miles as we go back home to visit family and soak up my favorite city :)

hemborgwife said...

I grew up in Orange County, California and I was always wanting to escape the suburbs, and right now I am living with my husband in his hometown. It is a small town in Southern Sweden, and we do not plan on having a child here either. We are thinking Edinburgh or Newcastle as we want a fairly large city with tons of culture and we both hated growing up in the 'burbs!

Sennie said...

I grew up in Finland, hubby grew up in Connecticut. We started our family in Southern New Hampshire, which was a great place to live.

But now we spend 1/2 year in Northern MAINE, totally in the boonies - and we all love it! Even my almost teenagers. The other 1/2 the year we are in Florida (love it too!) or travel.

GREAT topic, loved reading through comments too.

ana {bluebirdkisses} said...

I grew up in a city {a house, but in a city center}. I learned to ride my bike on a crowded path and I didn't know any different. My parents moved to the suburbs eventually, we had a back yard which I never used...and the first chance I got, I moved back downtown....which is where I plan to raise baby J.

Its all a matter of what you love. Toby will love living anywhere as long as he has his parents.

Courtney said...

I was raised in a suburb of Denver, and I have to say-- I love Colorado so much. If it worked for our careers, my husband and I would move there in a heartbeat. Alas, we now live just outside D.C. with our 3 year-old. I kind of want to live in a city to expose my daughter to more diversity, and we are contemplating a move to NYC in the next year or two (just in time for her to start school!). I am super nervous about figuring out schooling for her if we aren't living in the suburbs, but I think I'm willing to risk my sanity. I kind of think the suburbs are too boring!

Caitlin said...

I have been struggling with this question lately too. We don't have kids yet, but they are on the not too distant horizon, and we're not sure what will happen then. We live in Astoria, and for now I can't imagine leaving NYC. I think once the future baby is school age though, we might move to a town outside of Boston. I have family there and love the idea that we could afford a home with a backyard and still have quick easy access to a city and to the ocean. Something that we just can't afford in NYC!

Courtney said...

I was surprised to see El Paso, TX on the list! That's where my husband & I both grew up and I'd love to move back there (or close by) when we have kids. Though a big part of that desire is living near family.

aubree said...

We are raising our kids in Portland, OR. We moved from Seattle 1.5 years ago for the slower pace of life and grandparents just down the road. We have found people/families have a lot more time to spend with community (unfortunately part of that is due to under/unemployment, but I digress). 4 of us live in a 700sq ft apartment and it is working, mostly, for us while we get fully employed. We have a wonderful park a few blocks away and are learning to make it our "backyard" until we can rent a house.

As to the bike, I highly recommend starting with a skuut or strider bike. Both my kids (5 and 3.5) went from that to pedaling their own bike without the need for training wheels. It takes about a week to get the hang of having pedals, but once they do, they are flying down the road. Both kids were riding their own bikes by 3.5. It is the best parent moment yet.

johnny said...

We ask ourselves the exact same question. Until recently we were planning to move back to Tokyo. Both my wife and I grew up there and it was amazing. We had all the convenience and excitement that a big city has, but Tokyo also offered the safety and tranquility of the countryside. In elementary school I remember going to parks just with friends (no adults *gasp*) and staying out until the sun set, only to make our way back amidst the aromas of all our neighbors cooking :)
Unfortunately, the whole disaster in Tohoku has forced us to reconsider our plans, at least for now…

Angry Asian said...

we immigrated to Takoma Park, MD, an immigrant rich DC suburb. then my father became a foreign services officer and we lived in the philippines, ethiopia & thailand. i went to college in southern virginia, lived in San Diego for a year and now i'm in Baltimore. my darling love grew up in Rochester, NY but his family origins are in Louisville. we've talked about raising a family in upstate ny but i fear the winters. we have time, and really, as long as i am with him, i could care less where we are, it's geography to me.

ohnomyboots said...

Anywhere still accessible by subway :)

Anna Claire said...

I'm raising my son in the same area where I grew up: Huntsville, Alabama. It's Southern, but because of the space program here (we're also home of US Space Camp), it's a very high-tech and well-educated area. Way over half the people who live here have college degrees, and you can't throw a rock without hitting an engineer or rocket scientist. I like the small-town feel and more sophisticated, big-city offerings. Plus the low cost of living and our huge back yard!

Christy said...

The comments on this subject are fascinating. As a girl raised all over, but always in the exurbs, who raised a girl in the city, the question is this: how do you and Alex want to live? Go there and raise your kids. Live beautifully in a place that makes you happy Because everyone remembers where they grew up with fondness regardless of where that was.

B said...

my husband and I were both born and raised in NYC. we now temporarily live in Buffalo, NY for schooling. All though we plan on moving back to the city as soon as we can, there is a huuuge positive side to raising kids here. Everything here is soo family friendly, everything is greared towards teh family, the supermarkets, the gyms, all have daycare! can u imagine Key Food having a daycare service?
On the flip side, we both miss the excitement of NYC and cannot wait to go back.

Michaela said...

Hi Joanna :)

I grew up in a suburb of Wellington, New Zealand. Although I don't have marriage or children in my immediate future, I always plan to move back to New Zealand to raise my family (I am living in Vancouver at the moment - I think it would be weird if my children had a different accent to me!!).

Regardless, New Zealand is a great place for families and raising children - fantastic education & healthcare, living costs are relatively very low and there is a great deal of healthy, good food available to everyone. I could talk forever about what an amazing place it is. I want my children to have all the amazing experiences and opportunities that I did.

I guess the only downside (which in a lot of ways is a plus!) is that it's a bit of an ordeal to get to - but worth it once you're there for sure :)

Elle Vee said...

I grew up in a town of suburbs. Backyards, pools, parks and schools. And malls. And drinking and driving. And total, complete boredom. I met my husband at 23, we moved to Toronto and lived here for a few years before moving up to a small town in Northern Ontario.

We bought a house on a lake (literally, our backyard had a dock, loons would swim by, you could fish right there...) and had a baby. And when he was about a year old we started to panic. This small town was charming and supportive for our baby, but the lack of opportunities for him growing up were obvious to us. Unless he was a heterosexual hockey player, he'd be out of place. And the drugs, drinking and driving were much higher in this smaller town (no reliable public transit, and far distances to travel)... again, boredom. We picked up and moved back to Toronto.

Our son is now 2 and we know that this was the right decision to make. We go to different museums, playgroups, festivals, pools, beaches (Toronto has amazing beaches), restaurants and parks all the time. I love that we can walk to his school around the corner. I love the buzz in the air all the time. I want him to grow up with limitless opportunity and there always being an avenue for him to follow his bliss. Cities offer this. I think the benefits outweigh the costs on this one.

We aren't inflexible, though, and if he were to grow up and be more of an outdoors kid, and we had the urge for a quieter life, then we could pick up and go. But for now, there is life for the picking!

jamie said...

granted, i'm not a mom, but you should consider park slope! it's safe, green, open, filled with young kids, and extremely family-friendly. plus, it has the perks of living in manhattan with less grime, attitude, and hastle (as an ex-pat from the lower east side).

O B S E S S I V I S I O N said...

I live in the country (upstate NY) and I recommend it to ANYONE. Here are the perks: very quiet/calm, child will learn so much about nature, there are real life animals within walking distance (in our case, horses and donkeys). Sure, you have to travel to experience culture but we have music, art and cooking culture within our home. I gotta say that in this fast past world, country living is the best way to escape it all. A home should your oasis. www.obsessivision.com

katie said...

I grew up in Maine and loved every minute of it. I live in Boston now, and while I love it, it's my dream to return to my home state to raise a family (one day!). Good luck deciding!

Jillian said...

I grew up in the suburbs of Denver, CO. I love Colorado and I can't imagine a better place to raise a family, however I will not raise my children in the suburbs. I feel like my childhood lacked diversity and was rather sheltered. So I'd like to raise my kids in the city, which makes Denver a perfect choice.

Gleemonex said...

We are, apparently, gonna do this in the far south of San Jose, CA (Almaden area); we bought a lovely house with a pool and palm trees in a lovely street with a park at the end of it, great schools, and a (relatively, for Silicon Valley) short commute for my husband (I still work in SF, but from home two days a week, so it's bad but doable). Our reasons all made/make sense and it was the right decision ...

But.

I can't stop my fantasies -- so many of them, none of which involve the far 'burbs of San Jose, you know? I grew up in a very small town in Texas, loved a lot about it, but decamped for NYC at 18 and have never gotten either bug out of my system (not to mention the fantasies of living abroad, or in Chicago, or the Hudson Valley ... I could go on for days).

allthingssplendid said...

Props to Minneapolis, MN for being #7 on the list!! I do love my hometown...hence why I'm still here!

I find it interesting that as adults we gravitate towards living in big cities with lots of fascinating people, cool places to see & fun things to do. But when we think of raising children part of us wants to be somewhere without a lot of people and more nature. It’s probably best to have a balance between the two!

Manding. said...

I'm 25 and not ready to have a child for at least another year. The appropriate age always changes: two years ago, I thought I definitely wanted to wait until 30, but now, a couple years seems reasonable. I have to credit both my sisters, happily married with children and about 10-12 years older than I am. One lives in Williamsburg, another in suburban NJ. I'm so curious as to how I'll end up. I've lived in Philadelphia for the past 6 or so years, but at least people can afford yards here! This is so interesting; I love reading people's perspectives! One side of me is rooting for you to stay in the city, another wants Toby to run around in a yard (Central Park doesn't really count). And to that first commenter, yards in BK are hard to come by!
I like living in a major American city right now, but there is no doubt in my mind I just want to be tucked away on a farm with my family for the rest of my life.

okay this has been long...

JessicaTolliver said...

I grew up right outside of DC and am raising my two daughters in Brooklyn. After 15 years in New York, the crowds, dirt, hassle sometimes feel like too much and we talk about living. What keeps us here first and foremost though are our daughters. They are 8 and 10, and I believe that this city is so good for them. They are exposed to so much--all kinds of people, culture, etc. But what I think sets NYC apart from so many other places is that the kids grow up seeing a zillion versions of what they can be. My older daughter just entered middle school--a tough time for most of us--I can't help but think that NY kids have it a little easier than most. There is no "norm" here, so they're far less likely to be outsiders. They can be arty, nerdy, dancers, singers, chess players, whatever... They're almost certain to find others who are into the same thing. I think that's pretty amazing and helps justify those other aspects of city living that aren't always so great. :)

Lilacs In May said...

The country til 13, near a town thereafter.

Kristin said...

Joanna, you look EXACTLY the same now as you did a kid!

I grew up in rural NC. My heart is in California where we had our daughter but now we're moving on back to Switzerland where the hubby is from because we could not make it work financially to get back to CA.

I'm sad but moving forward to all the European adventures that lay ahead of me.

Robin said...

Great question! My goal all along has been to raise my kids in an environment that will inspire them. Luckily, inspiration comes in many forms. They're having an awfully great time living on our little plot of land in a moderately-sized town in northern Colorado with their dog, cats, sheep, turtle, frog, crayfish, and (soon-to-be) Flemish Giant rabbits. I appreciate having plenty of space for them to run, build, imagine, and generally scream their adorable little faces off (while I have all the comforts and luxuries of "the city" close by and my husband has endless mountain biking just outside our back door)!

We do joke that our oldest daughter will probably move to a big city for college and never look back!

DiamondsandTulle said...

I've heard upstate NY and Brooklyn are nice in your area. My cousins grew up in New Jersey and it seems like a nice place to grow up. I'm born and raised in Orange County, CA and LOVE it! I wanted to live in Manhattan in my early 20s and my husband actually did (but moved back after 9/11). I think it's a gret place to enjoy your youth, but not so much for raising a family. I'd always come back to Orange County - it's got everything (mountains, ocean, parks, activities for all ages, great food, etc). I also have a lot of family moving to Seattle and I can see why. Outside of the US, I'd move to Vancouver!

DreTurner said...

Your childhood pictures remind me of my childhood (Cambridge, England and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). I currently live in Toronto - not quite the same scale as NYC but I get what you're saying. It's a tough dilemma between urban/cosmopolitan and the slightly more sane pace of life anywhere else.

Personally, I think anywhere coastal is amazing. Somewhere that you can access your creature, city comforts and atmosphere in under an hour would be a nice compromise.

Anonymous said...

Missoula, Montana! Much better than #3 Billings.

sue Henry said...

We live in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA. Across the street is our school, there are movies shown for kids every month of the summer on the soccer field (also across from our house) an art festival every October, a parade every Halloween, tons of playgrounds, great places to eat, a creamery (YUM), heaps of kids, dogs and lovely neighbors, we are about 10 minutes from the fabulous smithsonian and all that they have to offer. We moved here from Colorado and although I miss those majestic mountains and the lovely people there I adore my new home town and all that it has to offer.

Sara Szatmary said...

I grew up in Seattle, by the water in a district called Ballard. It was a fairly residential area with local restaurants, shops, and theaters.

While I don't think about kids' much (I'm unmarried with no plans for a baby yet), I do envision something like that for my unborn kids. A place with a neighborhood feel. Not a sprawling suburb with no unique traits, but a neighborhood where the grocer knows you by name that is only 10 minutes from a busy downtown. Seems like the best of both worlds.

Liz Libré said...

We live in Brooklyn & in our dream city home, but now with our 1 yr old son, we want more time outside, more quiet, cleaner air (many kids on our block have asthma) & less dirty mouths! We both went to school in Maine & dream about the Portland area (Cape Eliz and Falmouth) & have even looked at property, but it seems like such a departure. I think, some day, though. You know what Maine's state slogan is, right? "Maine. The way life should be." It's kinda true.

Ashley said...

I grew up, and currently reside, in Grand Rapids, MI (#35 on the list!). We've got big city appeal, but small town values. We're only 40 minutes from Lake Michigan, as well as 40 minutes from the middle of nowhere if that's your thing.
My husband and I don't have kids yet, but when we do I hope we're still living here!

Anonymous said...

My partner and I talk about this all of the time, too. We live in the heart of D.C. I dream about Maine, Colorado and Italy -- and he dreams about the desert in California. I'm pregnant, so we're committed to staying here for two years because we think it's really important to be near support/friends during a massive (and often isolating) change. But I have a feeling we'll embark on some adventures in the next three years. It's nice to know that nothing is permanent.

http://www.happyliving.wordpress.com

Miss Amy said...

I grew up in Upstate NY. Still close enough to the city to visit....but rural enough to avoid being a pancake when I learned to ride a bike. East coast is the best coast! Even though I'm stuck out in Arizona for a while.... It's lovely out here too, in it's own way. :)

the southern hostess said...

My husband and I don't even have kids yet, but we talk about this all the time! We love New York, but aren't sure we want our kids to grow up here, but we haven't come up with an alternative yet.

Jessica said...

My husband and I are constantly having this discussion. He grew up in the city and I grew up in the suburbs. We met while both living in the city during college. After paying too much for rent we bought a house in the burbs. He says he wants a safer upbringing than he has, and I would like to move back into the city. I do have a problem with people saying they grow up more cultured and accepting in the city. I believe it's not your location but how you are raised. We were in the burbs but my parents raised us to be very accepting and always took us to museums, plays and restaurants in the city.

Kim said...

I grew up in rural Nova Scotia (which is akin to Maine), in a fishing village about 30 minutes from the city. Pros: lots of room to run, play, bike, swim, enjoy the outdoors and it was never unsafe to do so. Cons: the culture left a lot to be desired. We would have to drive to the city to take part in most activities. The kids I grew up with kind of ran wild and there were so few kids my age that I was kind of lonely for someone more like me. I would have been a lot happier in the suburbs or a neighbourhood in a smaller city like Halifax. Of course, the other consideration for me when I think about raising my baby is being close to family (we are a military family so we don't get to choose, but if we did, it would be close to grandparents).

Quinn said...

I'm so pleased to see that my hometown of Wichita, KS is number 11 on the list! Growing up in Kansas was a wonderful experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything. That said, I think you can probably raise a kid just about anywhere. I think we get too caught up in the suburban, picket-fence fantasy and don't realize that our kids will have a great time wherever they are--especially if we give them a loving home!

Prescott Perez-Fox said...

I grew up in Maplewood, NJ — a leafy suburb on NYC. It's a great place to grow up and raise kids, and has a large commuter population (taking the train to Midtown or downtown (via Hoboken). House prices are steep, but it's worth an inspection if you're serious about the suburbs.

jean goddard said...

It is SO much easier to have a backyard where you an put a little blow up pool, a sandbox or swings! When we moved from England (with a long gravel drive and main road at the end) my main goal was to have a sidewalk where you could ride bikes. It is always a trade off because you have to go where you have work and hopefully good schools, and everyplace has different things to offer, but I loved Rochester, Michigan as a place to raise children!

Sophie said...

I grew up in Sydney. I couldn't think of a better city to grow up in. I had the best childhood :)

I know live in the U.K but when i have kids I will definitely move back home. Australia is the best!

wherever you guys decide to live, i know you will be amazing to little Tobes and he will have the best childhood. xx

Lady Lisa said...

Thanks for the lovely flashback photo Joanna; I just loved seeing my awkward skinny self with matching pink glasses and converse! As for raising children, you know there will always be a special place in my heart for Michigan, but I can vouch for Brooklyn! There are plenty of neighborhoods in the borough full of children, and it's just a stones throw away from all that mighty Manhattan has to offer. Good luck making an eventual decision!

Xoxo, L Zawacki (Frede)

Ashley Blossom said...

As lame as it sounds, I am very grateful to have grown up a small town girl. There's not TOO much going on to prevent from family time and the "streets" are safe enough to ride your bike up and down with your little sister.

And those small joys are priceless as a child. As exciting as the hustle and bustle is, there is someting really great about the simple pleasures.

Anonymous said...

I lived in SF for 15 years and my daughter who is now 5 lived there until she was 4. I was caught up on the idea that I wanted to raise my daughter in the big city, send her to private schools all the way through, expose her to different people, restraunts (her favorite rice and seaweed)). We owned a 2 bedroom condo steps away from the ferry building where my daughter and I are known by our first names. The problem, after my daughter was born we started to feel suffocated in our apartment. NO place for her to learn to ride a bike, patio shared, movie room shared, bbq shared, lond ridiculous lines for almost everything, parking a hastle, public transportation for us is not an option, etc. We wanted our own privacy. We purchased a house in Orinda, Ca 13 miles from SF and my family and I couldn't be happier. We are surrounded by wonderful neighbors, redwood trees, decks on our house, play room, and all the space for my daughter to feel and act like a kid. We visit the city everyday because she still attends pre-school there, so i still have the best of both worlds. It's not about the glamour any more its about what right for you and your family. Go with your gut.

Elissa said...

I live in a very small town where there isn't very much to do, we don't even have a mall! If anyone around here wants to do something interesting other than camping, they have to go out of town and drive 45 minutes or more. I would want my child to grow where there are lots of fun things to do and see.

http://www.littlemisscards.blogspot.com
http://www.littlemisscards.etsy.com

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Camden, Maine- I cannot think of a better place to grow up...the community is so supportive and the scenery is gorgeous!

Molly Alone said...

I grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. I lived on a court where there were a million kids in my neighborhood. My parents gave us a very culturally rich childhood though by taking us to places like New York City. And although my roots here are very strong, I used to daydream starting of a very young age about what it would be like to grow up as a kid in New York City. I used to play with my dolls, and pretend we were going to Broadway plays and out dinner.

I think it doesn't matter where you live, as long as you keep color, culture and love in the life of your family :) However, I still daydream about what it must be like to live in New York!

Sophie said...

I grew up in Sydney. I couldn't think of a better city to grow up in. I had the best childhood :)

I know live in the U.K but when i have kids I will definitely move back home. Australia is the best!

wherever you guys decide to live, i know you will be amazing to little Tobes and he will have the best childhood. xx

Kiana said...

Wherever your family is. My husband and I are moving to Barcelona soon and one of the things we constantly discuss since we decided to try to get pregnant this year is how hard it will be to raise our kids knowing that their whole family is so far away. I wonder how other people deal with this?

Karissa said...

All the memories that highlight my growing up years begin with my ability to walk out of our back door and experience my own special world.

And just as I can't imagine spending the remainder of my single years anywhere but a vibrant city, I can't imagine raising a family anywhere but charming small town or the open country.

http://unecho.blogspot.com/

Manda said...

I would love to recommend some of my favorite cities, like Austin, Wichita or Minneapolis. However, those are cities. I live in a town where children can ride their bikes around the neighborhood without worrying their parents. I'm excited to start a family in Grand Forks, ND - with the exception of January and Februry, it's an extremely pleasant, safe, clean, and surprisingly artistic town (I'm a midwest gal, but not from ND). Weather is the only downfall. If I could move it four hours south, I would definitely enjoy it all year long! Plus, then I could work for you : )

Channeling Contessa said...

Hi Joanna- my parents faced this exact decision 20 years ago! I was five and my brother was just a year or so. They were living in the city, but wanted to move somewhere with more space and better public schools. Since my dad's career was based in New York, they needed to stay close. They took a map and drew a big circle around the city, with a radius of no more than 100 or so miles (2 hours max driving time) and considered places within that area to live. One thing my mom did, which I think is pretty smart, is for each town they looked at, she looked at the public school records- the graduation rates, where kids went to college, etc. They eventually settled on Rhinebeck (which I know you've visited!). I not only went to a great school, but loved growing up there. The Hudson Valley is great in general because it's filled with former or current New Yorkers (all of our family friends lived or still live part time in the city). Plus you've got access to amazing food, great independent movie theaters, and so much more. And most importantly, it's super easy to hop on the train and get into the city. You and Alex should definitely consider it!

Stephanie said...

I grew up in a suburb in northwest NJ, and now I live one town over from the place I grew up. It's pretty much the best of all worlds. Our house is in a quiet neighborhood, walking distance to schools and the park and the pool. There are lots of farms nearby, we buy our eggs and meat directly from the farmers! But we're just a little over an hour from New York and Philadelphia, so day trips to those cities are easy and frequent. :-)

Oriana Zens said...

Northwestern Minnesota.
You are already used to the cold.
It has the charming scenery (kinda like Maine)
You are surrounded by lakes where Toby can learn to waterski in the summer & ice skate in the winter!
Small town, minnesota nice people.
We've got that midwestern work ethic.
BIG, open spaces with plenty of room for biking and running through sprinklers.
The twin cities are among the greenest and most eco.friendly cities in America.

Did I sell you yet? I can keep going . . .

Molly said...

I grew up in the Washington DC suburbs. It was wonderful! Every week my wonderful Mom would pack a lunch and we'd head into DC to spend the day in museums! Washington is my favorite city in the world to this day!

Kate said...

I love this post and I can't stop reading the comments! I grew up in Northern Virginia in the outer rim of DC suburbs. While I didn't grow up in the prettiest town, I was lucky enough to grow up in a tight-knit community. My friends all lived in walking distance from me, and our families still do.

I've since moved to a small historic town in central Virginia, and as a sub in the school systems here it seems like the kids here have such a cute life. I think it's hard to predict where will be a good place to grow up, everywhere has pros and cons and it really comes down to the connections you make with the people who are there too, which is really luck of the draw.

anne. said...

I was raised in Boulder, Colorado and it was a lovely and dreamy childhood. We were always outside playing, and were exposed to all seasons and a very diverse group of people and thoughts about the world. Even though it was a "weird" place to grow up, that weirdness has given me a better world view.

I think raising my kids in Colorado is what I want to do, but I can't help but think about what it'd be like to raise some little beach babies! :)

Sara S. said...

I have two wee ones- we live in Brooklyn, and have a small yard where we have a small play area and a veggie garden. I have friends that even have room for a swing set in their BK backyard! It's difficult to come by, but if you search long enough (took us about a year), you will find an apt with a yard you can afford. I wouldn't want to raise my kids anywhere else!

Allison said...

I grew up in Minneapolis, and my memories - playing outside until the streetlights came on, catching fireflies, walking to school, mom cooking dinner every night, going up North to my grandparent's house on the lake where we'd pick our meals straight from the garden and cook them outside while the dogs ran crazily through the woods - all of that, to me, is perfect.

After spending 14 years in Arizona, feeling like a hole had been torn in my heart, I met my wonderful boyfriend who shares my beliefs and desire to raise children in the Midwest and give them the simple, beautiful childhood that we felt we had (he was born in Denmark, then moved to the Midwestern US).

We chose to live in Kansas City, and certainly plan to stay here and raise our future children here. I truly couldn't imagine living anywhere else (well, Denmark IS on the 'maybe' list! ;)).

Jaime Rugh said...

we used to wonder the same thing- living in nyc with our daughter. two months after my son was born, we bid on a house in south orange nj. two kids in nyc put us over the edge. we love it here- 35 min. to penn station by train, 1 hour to beach, 1 hour to beacon ny-1 mile from a gorgeous hiking/ biking reservation, cute houses, yards, playgrounds, schools. great markets etc. almost everyone in the two towns here- south orange & maplewood are from brooklyn, nyc & queens. such a great & diverse community here and - so close to the city. Can't imagine raising my kids elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Also, so nice to be near family! That is a factor. Maybe the west coast?

Caroline T. said...

Hmmm, as I have just moved away for university, my hometown has been on my mind a lot. I grew up in Atlanta- born and raised there. I loved it too! Looking back I'm very grateful that I grew up in the city as opposed to a suburb- I feel like I've got more street smarts and just experienced things I never would have seen before had I not lived in the city. Atlanta is a really neat place with a lot to offer a family and as a kid I really enjoyed it. Wouldn't change a thing. :)

Marilyn said...

How about moving up to the Hudson Valley? I live in Fishkill in Dutchess County, one town over from Beacon which is where I take the train to commute to NYC every day. I grew up in the city but I love living here, I don't plan on going back. :) Alot of city transplants are drawn to this area because of the many small artsy towns.

jean goddard said...

Let's all move to the same place some day! Portland?

Alaina Buzas said...

I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit but currently live in downtown Chicago. I see parents teaching their kids how to ride a bike all the time on the sidewalks and I think it is adorable. I'm sure Toby will do just fine!

Just call me Cyd said...

I love thinking about that question! Although I myself do not have a family. But I love Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, San Luis Obispo California is a wonderful place too. Aurora colorado!! And of course Fredricksberg Texas my favorite town in my home state!

Sarah said...

I grew up in a sleepy little southern town and it was the perfect place. I graduated high school with the same kids I went to kindergarten with and my parents never had to worry about me getting snatched up. Everyone looks out for everyone else in those kind of places and I definitely want to raise my children in a similar place with that sense of community.

Anonymous said...

i'm a little shocked that honolulu is #1, since hawai'i has a reputation for really poor public schools generally, but i suppose if you could get your child into one of the good public or private schools there then yes.

as for los angeles being high on the list? the list lost a lot of credibility with me. high crime, pollution and poor poor public schools. not to mention the influence of "hollyweird".

i think a nice, laidback tropical place would be ideal for small children (perhaps honolulu), so you could enjoy their toddler years at a slow pace, and then possibly a big city (like nyc) when they're older.

Alice said...

I think it's more about the people than the place for me. I'd love to raise my kids outside of the city but I'd rather have my kids grow up with their grandparents and cousins just a few blocks away.

mariahuang said...

I grew up in NJ in a small beach town just an hours drive to NYC. I have fond memories of riding my bike everywhere, beautiful sunshine and the atlantic ocean. I have brought my 2 and 3 year olds back for the last two summers and it is amazing! I hope to keep doing it!
We currently live in Seattle and it is a beautiful place but further from the ocean than I would like.

We will hopefully land in San Francisco. This will give us surf, mountains(snow) and city(diversity) , a wonderful place that my husband and I lived in when we dated. Great food, good art scene, good music, but not very good public schools, so that is always a tough one. Public/Private?
We also will try to spend time elsewhere in the world. We want our children to live in a country that does not speak their/our language for a least 3 months, maybe longer if we can swing it. We want to take a year and travel the world when they are old enough to remember it...(6/8?older?)
We see they need a home base though, it is important to them, ( my 2 year old always wants to go "home"). SF it will most likely be. Of course the question is when, and it would have to be when they are getting ready to go to school. My kids are both in daycare and my 3 year old is already developing solid friendships. So I am guessing at least by the time he is 5 and heading into kindergarten we would like to land somewhere that we hope to stay for the duration.

Good luck, take your time, and try to spend a few summers in different places to get the real vibe.
oh, and NYC could be pretty amazing to grow up in, central park is not too shabby of a backyard!

Caitlin Szabo said...

I always fantasize about living in Maine! It sounds perfect. I grew up in a small railroad side town in the south where everyone seemed to know me and my family. It was a really comforting way to grow up; very quiet and serene. I'm raising my son in St. Louis now but can't wait to move back to a quieter kind of place where we can focus more on nature and less on concrete.

E. and Baby P. said...

My kids are bi-racial so a multi cultural community is a must! We live in Oakland CA and I see it as an ideal place to raise my family. But, yes I grow older a smaller and quieter community does appeal to me.

LPC said...

Just wanted to add that it's important not to romanticize the life of a mom with small children. Places to run outside used to be great, but the concern about abduction makes it harder many places now. And the last thing you want is to be mothering by yourself, or surrounded by people who don't share your values. In my experience, the most important thing is the community in which you live and go about your days.

Susanne said...

We're raising our daughter just outside of Boston. (You can actually see the skyline from the end of our street!) After living in NYC for years, I realized that while there are so many wonderful benefits to living there, I wasn't prepared to raise a child in the city. We love where we are now. We have our own place, a nice backyard, great neighbors, fabulous schools and can be in downtown Boston in about 10 minutes. It's really the best of both worlds.

Anonymous said...

two words: NEW ZEALAND.

rachael said...

Portland, Oregon.

2.5 Hours to the Ocean, 2.5 hours to the mountain. 30 minutes to the country and the city is just big enough to feel city.

Kathy said...

Portland,OR! The BEST place to learn to ride a bike!!

Kristi said...

Gotta give a shout-out to Minneapolis - we have a nice-sized house right in the city on a street filled with young families. Our yard is rather tiny, but large enough to host big parties and play a few lawn games and have a small garden. We bike a lot - the bike paths here are fantastic. We're within walking distance to a cute restaurant and a neighborhood grocery store that stocks everything you'd ever need. The Mall of America, Ikea, and downtown Minneapolis are less than 10 minuets by car.

The big city perks are nice...our 3-year old boy takes circus class at a youth circus in town and the museums and parks are amazing here. I grew up in a smaller town on 30 acres of woods, so I miss that open-ended exploration opportunity for him. Can't have it all, I guess.

Emily Elizabeth said...

I grew up in New Jersey until my family moved to Vermont when I was 11. It was a big change, but a really, really good one. I grew up biking to friends houses, finding good swimming holes, and making elaborate houses in the woods with my friends. We had half days on Tuesday in the winter to go skiing with major ski pass discounts (and ski lessons from our parents).
Maine would probably be awesome too – that's where I'm planning on winding up one day soon.

Sage Crown Parker said...

Maine Vote, it is amazing! I was raised in Maine and turned out wonderful, lol!
Really, Portland is a great city, lot's of yummy food, ocean, great art community, etc...

Erica C. said...

I was born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa and I loved it! It got boring at times, I must admit, but it was so safe, there was a ton of open space to run, bike and play, and it has great schools. Now that I'm an adult, I have moved a whole 50 minutes away from Iowa City to Davenport. I also lived in Des Moines (#6 on the list of top 100 cities to raise kids). I have a feeling that my fiance and I will stay in the Midwest and raise our kids here. Both of our families still live in Iowa City and we have teaching jobs we love here in Davenport. I loved Des Moines and could definitely picture raising my children there. So, to answer your question, I have a feeling my children will have a fairly similar childhood to mine if they do indeed end up growing up in a medium-sized Midwestern town like I'm thinking they will.

As far as where you should raise Toby (and any future children you may have), I think the location doesn't matter as much as the love he'll feel from you and Alex. That will make him feel right at home, no matter where that happens to be. :)

Chantel B. said...

Hmmm...I don't have children (yet!)but I often struggle with the thought of where we should raise them if we do end up having kids. We currently live in the city I have lived in my whole life but...my husband is from another city (that is MUCH smaller and quaint) and I know in his heart he really wants to raise our children in his hometown. Mostly, because it is familar to him and he LOVED growing up there but also because he fears his parents will miss out on being grandparents because we are so far away. Why can't these things be easier sometimes?! I guess there are pros and cons to every situation. Which is why it is often hard to pick!

By the way...that snowman in the last pic is totally RAD!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Southern Maine. It was perfect! A little bit of everything. Close to the ocean, close to farmland, on the border of a cute little town in New Hampshire (Portsmouth), an hour from Boston, five hours to N.Y.C. A little bit of everything all rolled in to one! Plus, is ther anything better than fall in New England?!

Molliee said...

I grew up in a small town in the SF Bay Area, but I LOVE cities. I just am not sure if I would love them as much if I grew up there... rough decision!

Anonymous said...

What do you do when you pick "the best" place and then your 6 year old comes home crying that our house isn't as big as the neighbors? Or that the traffic on our busy street is too noisy and she just wishes that we lived in the country? Parenthood sure is a lot more difficult than just picking the right spot to live.

nickandnoragettingmarried said...

I know that lots of people raise kids in the city (heck, my cousin and her husband have twins in Brooklyn), but I think I'd like a balance between the city and the 'burbs. Right now my fiance and I live in a town just outside of Boston. It's still on public transportation (a 20 minute ride into downtown) and has more of a neighborhood feel. I think that's the balance we'd want for our future child raising.

ag. said...

I grew up in Southern Ontario, Canada, about 30 mins north of Toronto and I think it was a fabulous place to grow up. It's a safe suburb with parks, quiet streets and big backyards but was big enough and close enough to the big city that I never felt too sheltered. Outings to the city were easy so for me, it always felt like a great place to live as a kid, almost the best of both worlds. I now live about 30 mins outside Vancouver, proving that I'm not a city girl but a suburb girl and when it comes time to raise my children, I'm sure I'm going to be looking for the right place too, somewhere just outside a great city. Although I will put my vote in for Maine as I spent my childhood summers there with my dad and it's my most favourite place in the States! Excited to hear what you decide for your family!

kelsey said...

Hi Joanna,
I love this question- as it's one that my husband and I think about often (even though we don't have kiddos yet). I grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado #6 place i the US according to this:
(http://realestate.yahoo.com/promo/100-best-places-to-live-in-america-2010-edition.html )
and loved it. Great public schools, lots of fun playing outside. For University I moved to Boulder, Co. (according to Bon Appetit Mag we're the #1 foodiest town! : http://www.bonappetit.com/magazine/2010/10/americas_foodiest_town_2010_boulder )

We hope to raise babies here where we have 300 days of sunshine every year.

Come out for a visit! Toby will love it!

xo

Sabrina said...

I grew up in the perfect location in Minnesota. We lived on 8 acres that also had a lake. But we also lived in a cul-de-sac so it was the perfect balance of playing in the woods\fields and having lots of friends and places to ride our bikes.
Currently we have a 4 month old and living in Minneapolis. Our backyard comes up to a railroad track, then a highway then an airport and I HATE IT!!! As soon as we can save the money to move we are out of here and out to the country!

brandy zadrozny said...

We moved from NYC to Burlington Vermont for this very reason. We've lived here for two years with our one year old son and...we hate it. We have a hammock and a street where very cute kids run in packs and it's great. Except that mom and dad are extremely bored. It's nice and all, but can anything compare to New York?

So, we are actually moving outta this one-horse town and back to Brooklyn on Friday! We're looking forward to hanging in the park, crawling around the Met, eating quality ethic food (!) and being back home with our new family.

Ashley said...

This is a question I ask myself often.. i don't have kids yet but...
I live in a small town in Northern California. I love it. It's safe, peaceful, and homey. The city isn't too far away but you have room to live.
On the other hand being raised in this same small town it would be awesome to show your kids something different. Culture, being that main thing. I find that there are those folks that live in this small town that are closed minded and stuck in their ways. I never want that for my child. I don't want my child to be surrounded by ignorance. It's a tough call...

Tragic Sandwich said...

We live in L.A.--we've both got ties here, and Mr. Sandwich's parents are nearby. Fortunately for us, Baguette was born after our move from our crappy apartment to our house (with yard! and grill!).

We are still amazed that we found this neighborhood. People actually go for walks with their dogs and kids, and talk to each other. There are block parties. It feels like the neighborhood I grew up in outside of D.C. (although it looks nothing like it, of course). And best of all, there are probably a dozen children within a couple of months of Baguette's age.

That's not something that we would have had the hubris to ask for in a neighborhood, but as it turned out, we got it.

We feel like we really lucked out. Particularly in a city where no one is supposed to know anyone but their car.

jessd6 said...

I'm 25, not even close to being ready to settle down yet, but I have this argument with my friends all the time. We live in LA, are all in the entertainment industry, so as long as we are still pursuing it, we have to stay in LA. Most of my friends are transplants from back east and would prefer to raise their future families where they grew up. I, however, am a local and feel very differently. I come from the suburbs of OC, where it's very boring and homogenized, but safe and idyllic for raising kids. But I couldn't wait to move to LA when I was old enough!

It's also hard, because a lot of kids in the city seem to grow up way too fast (too much money, not enough adult supervision or worse, lack of interest in their kids' lives). I think the perfect situation would be to live in one of the lovely neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, with a backyard and a decent public school. (And my parents only live an hour away!)

margaux said...

i think a mid-sized city will be the way to go for us. we're thinking austin right now. small enough so that we can afford a house with a yard and our kids can learn to ride their bike safely (:, but big enough so that there are plenty of cultural opportunities. i'm over the big BIG city life, and can't imagine paying private school tuition or my child having to apply and study his/her tail off just to get into a decent PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL. that just seems wrong.

katie [the bright life] said...

I'm certainly biased, having been born and raise there myself, BUT I think Portland, Ore., has got to be one of the best places to raise a family. It's big enough to feel like a city, but small enough that there's a real community feel (and we hardly have any traffic!). It's 90 minutes from the mountains, 2 hours from the beach and filled with gorgeous city parks and bike-friendly paths. I've lived in Southern California and Central Texas, and neither compares to Portland. I'm sure you, Alex and Toby (and any futures...) will do wonderful wherever you are. It's obvious that you guys are a loving family, so you really can't go wrong. Xo, Katie

thecharlottecville.com said...

Dear Joanna,

I completely understand your thoughts about where to raise a family. My husband and I were both city dwellers (Boston and DC) and found it was great when we were in our young 20's and single...but after we met and got married, we found that our priorities became very different.

We live in Charlottesville, VA. It's absolutely the BEST place to live. We L O V E it here. There is culture, fashion, amazing food and art, but it's a small, safe place to live. Housing is affordable. We live within walking distance to the Downtown area and have a really lovely house with extra room for a baby when that happens (hopefully soon).

Charlottesville is just amazing. We have the mountains, the ocean a couple hours away, and DC just up route 29. We love the culture here too. In fact, it feels like almost anyone you meet is from San Francisco, NYC or another big city. A lot of young families who settle here after living in a bigger city.

I hope you both find the right fit for you. Let me know if you have any questions about Charlottesville...I'm a big fan :-)

All the Best!
Stephanie

Lindsay @ The Everything Project said...

I think about where to settle down and buy a house in the same way you're thinking about where to raise Toby. I live in Philadelphia right now, and my husband and I both walk to work. I love that I can go home and make a nice, hot lunch during my lunch break, but to buy a house in my neighborhood would be nuts. I dream of moving to a quaint, New England college town where we could still walk to work, but we could also have a whole house to ourselves! Work really does seem to be the deciding factor, though.

I wonder how your blog would change if you moved! I would be curious to see!

Taimi - TaimiToGetDressed said...

Portland, OR! Incredible artsy, quirky beautiful city with unimaginably beautiful outdoors (mountains, deserts, beaches) all within an hours drive or less. I grew to be both a city girl and mountain girl. I live in Boston now but plan on moving back to Portland to start a family.

heather said...

There was a great op-ed piece with fantastic comments about living in NYC vs the suburbs last week in the NYtimes. You are fortunate that you can consider different locations, presumable you and your husband have jobs with some flexibility. There are advantages and disadvantages of any geography, with cultural diversity, education, recreational activities to consider. But I don't believe in these lists and "best" and "worst" places to grow up. Geography doesn't create happy, well balanced, considerate, curious and moral children; parents do. Maybe Toby will have happy childhood memories of rocky Maine beaches, or maybe of biking on Governors Island. But most importantly, he will remember being loved!

Anonymous said...

Rural Vermont. Born and raised, moved away, and then back to raise my kids.

robynbeatrix said...

My family is from Venezuela so our parents moved us there when were 3/7. We lived in an apartment with my grandmother and I got to share a bedroom with my sister. I became fluent in spanish and got to travel around the country. Some of my best childhood memories are from the years we spent there. I haven't been back in 10 years since it has been so crazy there but I desperately want to raise my kids (when I have kids) in another country or in a city with a very diverse culture. I would want them to see the world from that perspective and also to learn another language.

dreamscapes design group said...

I have two kids myself and have lived in or near quite a few places on that top 100 list! I have to say I am in LOVE with New England... specifically Connecticut. We have great schools, lovely neighborhoods, quaint towns and there is so much to do! Plus in no time at all you can be in NYC or Boston... two of my favorite cities. For me, it allows the best of all worlds. Good luck as you grow your family!

Gabrielle said...

I grew up on a farm in the South Island of New Zealand, and then small towns and small cities in the South Island. I loved living in the country as a child, space, quiet, climbing trees and building huts. As a teenager I liked the small towns we lived in, which gave enough 'city' things to do with relatively easy access to the outdoors, with a big garden to play in.

Currently we are living in San Diego with our 3 yr old. We have a small apartment with a small yard. I see San Diego is 5th on the list. I do enjoy all the outdoor things to do here, but the access to them is not as easy (long drives, lots of cars on the road, crowded outdoor areas) as I am used to coming from NZ. It is also expensive to live here so not everyone has the ability to have a yard. We have one but its tiny and not the space we want for our children. We look forward to moving back to somewhere in NZ or Australia, probably semi-rural just outside of a small town or city that gives us the lifestyle we want at home and easy access to city activities.

Hitha said...

My husband are major travelers with family roots in India, so we'd love to raise our family in India for part of their lives. I've always envisioned a city upbringing for my kids, and love what a cozy city Philadelphia is. Then again, I'm a few years away from raising a family, so we'll figure it out when we decide to actually have a kid!

Jam-packed Life said...

I grew up in Moscow, Russia -- lived there till I was 14 -- and loved it! I want my future children to know what cities are like, to be able to use public transportation to get places, to explore and meet different people. I live in Chicago now and love it! We moved into a condo just north of downtown about a year ago, and it's sufficiently close to make everything in the city very accessible. I don't so much mind that we don't have a yard ... there's a great park down the block. Most importantly, it's a neighborhood that has a lot of young families, who aren't thinking of moving away, so lots of potential playmates.

Marta said...

This is quite challenging decision. I was born and raised in Poland. During my teenage years I moved to Shelby Twp., MI (so close to where you grew up Joanna :). For 2 years I lived in Washington, D.C. And this summer my newlywed husband and I moved to Los Angeles. From my own experience, I believe it is very rewarding to live in different places, cultures even. Very eye opening. Plus, learning foreign languages does not come easier than when you are a child, therefore Toby has all the advantages :)
Good luck to you!

Isabelle said...

I grew up in Quebec city's suburb and it was amazing. It was the eighties and we still had a lot of liberty to ride our bikes, go buy candy at the corner store and go play in the woods... i don't think it would be the same today... i am convinced the 80s suburbs were a rad place to grow up

I live in Paris and like in NY people are stressed and space is cramped. Very often here people who can afford it remain in the city during the week and leave to their country house on weekends so kids can play outside and ride bikes (by the sea often!). The high speed train is great to espace far in little effort and time. Whilst having a cleaning lady in order not to have all the housework to do when they come back. A bit of the best of both worlds but I consider people with that kind of money super lucky to be able to do that.

Should it not be possible for me in a few years when i'll have my kids, i will consider getting a weekend house with close friends...

Anonymous said...

If I had the money I would raise a child in NYC with no problem! With such amazing schools and tons of culture, it's really a leg up in my opinion. I grew up in the southern USA, where public schools are not an option if you want to actually get an education. So I attended a Catholic school from k-12 and lived in a suburb in a medium sized stereotypical city. If I knew my parents had moved from an exciting metropolis because of me I would have been so mad. *lol*

Right now my husband and I live in Austin, TX but when/if we decide to have children I would definitely be up for moving to Dallas, for the advantages of an even bigger city.

Anne said...

My boyfriend and lived in Chicago and I really didn't want to have kids there. It is a hard life (as you describe) and I wanted more space, more grass, more quiet and less cold weather! Right now I see myself raising kids in Austin, but I'd be happy with several of the major cities in the South.

Anonymous said...

I live in Vermont and will be raising our twins here... I'd say live where you would want to go on vacation with children. I loved your post about renting a house in upstate New York. Looked pretty perfect!

PDXer said...

I have to echo all the votes for Portland, Ore. My husband and I moved here from Brooklyn about a year ago and had a baby boy this past summer. I'm head over heels in love with the place. The people, the food scene, the bike culture—it feels like a cross between Brooklyn and a Scandinavian city.

Amanda G said...

we just decided to make the big move with our 4 and 2 year old out of the city and into country living! We live a nice piece of land in a duplex with my parents-in-law who wanted to be a part of helping raise the kids and in turn we help them grow old gracefully by doing the yard work etc. There is a lake across the street and the neighbors have been more than friendly as we have settled in

It was scary! But it has been a couple months now and I am amazed at how the quiet of country life is soul healing. We get to walk down our community street every day with our kids running around, our dog off leash and we feel blessed and lucky. My kids breathe fresh air, romp around in the forest behind our yard, explore whats in the garden and I feel like I am teaching them a different, more simple way to live life. I am teaching them that your home can be separated from your busy life. It's where you come to just be. To relax and reconnect with yourself and the family.

Amanda

Amy said...

I grew up in southwest Wisconsin (right on the mississippi river!). I didn't appreciate it until I moved to Dallas - hot, humid, and all suburbs. LaCrosse, Wi is a fairly small town, gorgeous and green, and has big back yards with the country just minutes away. Great schools, several universities close by, and it's surprisingly diverse with many cultural opportunities. I'm still not convinced I'd like to raise my girls there, but I'm not sold on Dallas either. Oh...where to go? I'm really enjoying reading all these comments.

Nina Leung said...

I grew up in a subdivision which was the most boring existence. But, I want a combo of city and suburb to raise my son. So we decided on Berkeley, CA. We live in the hills, above the hustle and bustle, but we can go down any time to get an urban feel, and, of course, some of the best food available in the U.S.
Another benefit is the multicultural feel. People of every race, color, and creed, living together and making families together where I know my son will feel most comfortable.

Jules said...

Joanna, my boyfriend grew up on a teeny island called Arrowsic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrowsic,_Maine), right off the coast of Maine (his dad is a wooden boat builder.. they actually also lived on Plymouth Plantation for a few years!!).

He has lots of childhood stories about playing in the woods, befriending a moose, sneaking into old lighthouses, and swimming in ice cold lakes in the summer.

I vote Arrowsic! That island makes boys into great men. :)

carina said...

I was born and raised in Copenhagen and would love to raise my children here. But who knows where life will take me? Whereever you live there are pros and cons, but if you smother your child in love I don't think it matters whether the surface beneath their feet is grass or asphalt - except it hurts less to fall on your bike on the grass:-D

BTW I just read a great post today over on 'hither and thither' about the pros and cons of raising a child in New York...

I've often wondered...do you actually read all the comments to your posts? If you do, I don't know how you manage:-)

Wouterra said...

This is a conversation my partner and I often have. But, at this point we have the luxury of not having any children yet.

I grew up in suburban and rural Washington state and he grew up in LA. Now we live in Portland, which is actually a really nice blend of urban mixed with bungalows and quiet tree lined streets. Farms are close, woods and close and so on many levels it feels like an amazing place because you can have the benefits of a city and the country but it's still not the same as having the space that I did as a child.

We like the Northwest, this much we know. Anacortes Washington is our dream town. Remote and beautiful but close to Seattle and Vancouver BC. It's beaufitul: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultra_flat/4396745419/in/set-72157623534630950

tastetest said...

I grew up in Montclair, NJ and honestly feel so lucky to have done so. We moved from Park Slope when I was 4 and at first I hated how quiet it was but now..back living in Brooklyn, at times I long for it. Montclair is a totally unique suburb that exposed me to so much culture, people and ways of life while maintaining the idealistic appearance.
At the same time, you cannot grab a slice at 3 am cause you are starving. Then again, you probably won't be awake.

Viktoria with a K said...

I don't have children yet, but my husband and I want to move to Maine as soon as possible! It seems like the perfect place to raise a family and grow old. We're both from Atlanta and want to move out of the hustle and bustle of the suburban life.

Jen said...

I grew up in metro Detroit. It was a decent neighborhood at the time, but in that city you are always just around the corner (so to speak) from more questionable areas.

When I was 15 we moved "up North" to a small town on Lake Huron. WOW-what a difference a few hundred miles makes. It's the kind of place where everyone knows you and nobody locks their doors. Now that I'm an adult, with 2 boys of my own, I'm grateful to have experienced both ways of life.

My husband travels for work and we could live anywhere in the US (or abroad for that matter) and we choose...our old hometown! In the end, we love the safe harbor it provides and a life filled with family and friends who love us!

Tanya said...

I moved to San Diego for college and my boyfriend was born and raised there, so we are hoping to move back to Oceanside (North Country San Diego)within the next two years. I would love to raise a child by the ocean and spend many days and nights outside enjoying the beautiful weather. Right now we live in Temecula (so cal's wine country) which I love, its only about 40 min north of Oceanside and its quiet and very family friendly. But after living here almost a year we definitely are missing the beach.

Joanna Goddard said...

based on these comments, we should move to portland, oregon immediately :) it does sound amazing. and everyone i know from portland is awesome (and seems so friendly/cheerful).

Anonymous said...

I'm really partial to Portsmouth, NH. It's on the coast. An hour from Portland, ME. About 2 hours from Boston, MA. Great old town with great shops and restaurants. Their Halloween Parade is awesome. That's where I plan on moving closer to.

Stella Annabelle said...

It's definitely a tough call - knowing how much you love city life as an adult, but wondering how you will adapt and could appreciate a slower pace for your little one. I've always thought I'd use the old "school rule" as my excuse. Move before they start school full time (usually before first grade). Find a great education system and community and go from there. No little ones yet - so the future will tell if I follow along...

As for growing up:

Lancaster, Pennsylvania - no matter where my current residence, I can't help but refer to it as home.

When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to leave home, see the world, experience city-life. But having lived in Chicago and now living in Atlanta - I realize all of the wonderful things about Lancaster.

Lancaster County is beautiful - and bountiful! Farm stands with homegrown veggies adorn the roads; the Appalachians are a faint backdrop among the golden fields.

Downtown Lancaster city is abundant with history, music, arts, and a great community. There are historic parks, a professional baseball team, and Central Market - the country's oldest continuously operating Farmer's market (Fresh veggies, meats, cheeses!). There's the bustling-city-life neighborhoods and at the same time, quiet-suburbanesque ones as well. It is the best of both worlds.

And! Lancaster is nestled in southeastern PA - a short drive or train ride (2 hours or less) to cities (NYC, Baltimore, Philadelphia), mountains (Poconos), rivers (kayaking on the Susquehanna), and beaches (Maryland, NJ, DE).


(Can you tell I got more and more excited as I typed:)

Whatever you decide, Toby is loved and very lucky to have such great parents - he'll love wherever you live because you do - and you'll make it great!

Anonymous said...

I spent part of my childhood in Russia, and the other part in New England. While I love my heritage and roots, I would never want to raise my child in Russia (though I am taking a lot of HOW I was raised into practice: potty trained before 1 (it can be done, and no, I am not scarred for life!), not waiting for high school before learning a second language, etc.).

I LOVED growing up in New England. We lived on the coast of Maine, and that's where my husband and I chose to settle as well. My grandmother would take us mushroom gathering, and I still have my collections of sea glass from when I was a child. The street we lived on was originally a dirt road ("country lane" sounds so much more elegant), but is now more developed (though still surrounded by maples and pines)...

-Lydia

Abbie said...

I grew up in the burbs in CT and after spending my young adult years in NY, San Diego and DC there was just no way I could go back to the burbs. I did want a backyard though and an affordable housing market so we are raising our kids in Denver (#57). We have a yard, tree-lined streets, the kids can walk to school (once they are old enough), but we also can walk to restaurants, shops, etc. and we're two-four miles from art museums, theaters, the zoo, our work, etc. Plus, we're close to the mountains for hiking, camping, skiing...

Colleen said...

I grew up in San Diego county in California. I never lived in the city itself, I grew up in suburbs surrounding the city. I loved it. I had sidewalks to learn roller skating and bicycling on. I can't imagine raising my child someplace where they couldn't ride a bike without running into someone. But people manage to raise kids in NYC, so Toby can't be any different. I want to move to San Francisco, which is a city with lots of people, and they manage to raise kids with gangs and little moving space.

Sarah said...

Colorado Springs, CO, is where we're raising our little girl. (Interesting to see it ranks #9 on the list!) I grew up in St. Louis, MO, which was a great town to grow up in (free world-class museums and zoo, good schools, etc.), and my husband grew up overseas. We love the "nature experiences" that we're able to give our daughter here in Colorado, but miss "home" and family. We go back and forth about whether to move or stay all the time! There are always compromises with anywhere we choose, I suppose.

Eliana said...

If you love where you live, chances are your kids will too. It won't take long before Toby picks up on you wanting to jet off to New York every chance you get!

Also, happy to see Ann Arbor made that list!

Anonymous said...

This summer we visited NYC, the first time for my husband and three kids. It was odd because we didn't see any kids until we went to Redeemer Church. No kids in the restaurants, no kids walking on the streets, no kids in the stores. It was odd and eerie. I had lived in NYC for grad school and loved it. At the time I thought I could live there for the rest of my life. After visiting, I know now that I wouldn't have been able to raise my kids there; a cab wouldn't even pick us up. I have a love/hate relationship with our #1 safest city in America address, but it really has been so good for my three kids. Good schools, lots of great parks, ethnically diverse. I just wish we had an amazing pizza joint nearby.

Caroline Royce said...

I love having grown up in Minneapolis (and I'm not surprised to see it in the Top 10 on that list). It's got everything that a big city needs, plus a sprawling metro area full of parks, lakes, bikes, nightlife and arts. I've lived here my whole life and can't imagine raising kids anywhere else. My boyfriend feels the same and we've just recently purchased our first home together in the city. Can't wait for our kids to grow up in this vibrant, beautiful place!

Mandy said...

My husband and I just started this discussion in earnest this weekend. We live in DC but want to raise our kids elsewhere - ideally someplace with a great public school system. I grew up in Troy, MI and he grew up in Brooklyn. I'd be thrilled to move back to Michigan and settle in Ann Arbor but he's lobbying hard for NYC. I'm sure our kids will be happy either way but it's such a huge question to face. Good luck!

Amber, theAmberShow said...

I'm sure number one and I are not going to be the only ones to say this: BROOKLYN, BABY!

No babies here, but I'm loving Park Slope, and hope to not ever raise kids in the suburbs.

The lack of space gets balanced out, and surpassed, by lots to do and diversity of people.

And there's a hammock in my back yard.

Leah Tacha (Lele) said...

We don't have children yet, nor are we even married, but Sean and I talk about this ALL THE TIME. I'm originally from Kansas, and I think I'm scared to even marry Sean because I'm nervous to even think about having kids in NYC (where we currently live). I just can't imagine being one of those moms that lugs the stroller up and down those subway stairs! Those women are Olympic Gold Medalists in my mind with the strongest arms I've ever seen!!! It is such a tough decision to stay or to go because nyc is so special. But then again, so are backyards. :)

Amal said...

I've been trying to convince my fiancé to move to the suburbs for the longest time. I grew up in a small town in Ontario while he has lived his whole life in Montreal.

I'm predicting that we will forever stay in the city in order to avoid as much traffic as possibly. I can't bare the thought of sitting in my car everyday for hours. And on the other hand, I can't imagine having kids and not being able to let them play in our backyard.

So I'm shopping around for homes that fit right in the middle. An area that has lots of greenery, a home with a yard (maybe a pool), and a short distance to downtown. I'm crossing my fingers.

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