As I was heading in to work the other day, I heard a report on WINS radio that, based on statistics from the U.S. Census, young parents in the metropolitan area were choosing to live in New York City rather than move out to the suburbs, as their parents or grandparents before them did.
A Bergen Record story on the trend suggested that a weak economy, a shaky suburban real estate market, more dual-income families seeking less time-consuming commutes to work, and the improved quality of life in places like Manhattan and Brooklyn -- less graffiti, lower crime, more family friendly attractions – all make city life more attractive to young parents.
The young parents in my family – my son and daughter-in-law – are still in their Manhattan apartment, with the baby and all the gear that seems to be required for an infant nowadays. It's a bit of a tight squeeze.
When I visited this past weekend, my son had just put together the baby’s stroller. It was windy and cold out, but it was a bright, sunny day. And they’d been cooped up since coming home from the hospital, so we bundled my granddaughter up and took a spin around the block.
Their neighborhood, while it has seen a lot of gentrification, could still be considered – well -- gritty. We encountered honking horns and car radios with the bass cranked up to eardrum-shattering levels. We passed through a cloud produced by some heavy smokers. There was a homeless person, too. The nearest playground was about three blocks away in a cement schoolyard, but my son said there were some nicer parks a bit farther away.
I’m a fan of the city. I’ve always said Manhattan would be a great place to retire to – all the cultural attractions, the excitement, easy food deliveries from every imaginable cuisine, and no need to keep a car. But for a family with a baby or a toddler? I’m not so sure.
What do you think? Are the ‘burbs or the city a better place to raise kids?