Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Raising Kids in the City and the Suburbs Or Why the Middle Class Leaves the City

Apartment 401 and Matthew Yglesias say that city kids grow up just fine, if not better, than kids in the suburbs.

Maybe. But it takes a lot of money and parental energy.

Education. Let's take Dalton off the table. It costs $26,000 per year. So, now we're limited to parochial schools and public schools. The only good parochial schools are on the east side of Manhattan - 1-1/2 hour commute. The local public school is okay until third grade and then we're dealing with a 40 minute commute downtown. That's back and forth for me and Ian - 4 hours on the subway.

Pre-K, daycare, babysitters. Double the price in the city.

Diapers, formula, milk. Double the price in the city.

Outdoors. Kids like to be outside. Try carrying a bike, a stroller, and a three year old down four flights of stairs. If the baby needs a nap, then no one goes outside. If one kid is sick, then no one goes outside.

Activities. My kid loves soccer and swimming. There's nothing like that in our neighborhood, so take the subway again for 40 minutes and pay primo dollars.

The Car. To make runs to Target to get the cheaper diapers, one needs a car. Grandparents demand visits; need a car. A parking space costs $300 per month. No parking space means $300 in parking tickets and guys sitting on the hood.

Chores. One really needs a dish and clothing washer with kids. Lots of older NYC apartments, like ours, do not permit this equipment. I spend at least an hour a day hand washing dishes. I spend 1-1/2 hours picking up my kid from pre-school. What could I be doing with that time?

More than one. Admittedly, things became really annoying after I had a second kid. One kid is doable in the city; two kids makes it much more tough.

Kids do grow up just fine in the city. There is a lot of great things for them here -- diversity, energy, culture. But it helps if you can afford a million dollar apartment in the right neighborhood and hire help to do some of the shlepping. We're not moving for the space or even safety. We're moving because I'm sick of the expense, subway schlepping and all the stairs. I'm moving to make my life better.

We're moving to an older suburb with small pieces of property and sidewalks. The downtown is around the corner. I am hoping that we still come into the city once a week.

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