It’s a commonly debatable topic – the City or the Suburbs? Most young twenty somethings have romanticized about moving to a big city during or after college and for me I had a love affair with the city of Boston for six years. I loved having everything accessible to me, I loved the energy and city vibes and I especially loved getting lost in Boston’s little alleys and always finding beautiful corners of the city to swoon over. After my oldest daughter was born however, I moved back to the burbs of Connecticut (where I was born and raised) so my family could help me as a single parent.
A few years later, after meeting Joey in New York City, we would travel back and fourth for a nice balance of the Connecticut suburbs and his apartment in Spanish Harlem. We had the cozy fireplace at my house and the endless eateries of New York. While we awaited to find out Joey’s residency program match, my current job at the time added Philadelphia into my territory. The stars were aligning.
A year ago, we moved into the historic neighborhood of Old City, Philadelphia. Philadelphia, PA is ranked the 5th largest city in city in the United States. My biggest concern about moving into a city was finding the best school system as Bailey would be entering kindergarten. I wanted a safe street to live on. I wanted her to play outside. Like every determined mom, I elbowed my way into one of the best public schools in Philly and we signed a lease.
Living in a city with kids has far surpassed my expectations. It will be hard now to get me to the burbs, even in the winter when there’s nothing more I would love than warming my car in a garage! Here are my favorite things about living in the heart of a big city with kids.
1. There is ALWAYS something to do
When you have really young kids, the “what to do with them” is always a struggle. Have you ever stayed in a house all day with a toddler? I wouldn’t wish that on anyone! Ha. Living in the city there is always something to do. You don’t have to drive 30 minutes to get there. Our neighborhood always has something happening and there are plenty of centers with activities for kids lined up. Being in a city gives you options – plenty of em’ for young kids.
2. A Park at Every Corner
I think we all dream of a beautiful yard for our kids to play in. Here in Philadelphia as in most cities, there are parks everywhere you turn. Philly is home to 25 National Parks with plenty of space to run a muck and burn some energy. The city is also filled with playgrounds like Three Bears Park, Spruce Harbor Park and Franklin Park. After school we are able to meet friends and play.
Living in a city, kids are exposed to so many different walks of life, people and cultures. It was important for me to have my daughters surrounded by the beauty of diversity.
4. New Friends + Community
Bailey’s first friend here we met at the neighborhood dog park. A cute little girl came running up to her and asked if she wanted to play. The two ran away and we connected with her parents who were sitting on the park bench. Turns out, her new best friend and her would be going to the same daycare program followed by the same school. Day 1 of kindergarten Bailey came home with so many new friends that we learned lived in our neighborhood. Sometimes a play date is as easy as sending her up the street to the other end to meet a friend! That just wouldn’t happen in the burbs.
Our neighbors have welcomed us with open arms. Living all next to each other, different neighbors have invited Bailey to play, helped us build her a bicycle and brought over pies. Living in a city is really about community and it’s great when kids can feel that.
5. Local Shops and Storefront Pets
Probably one of our most favorite things about living in a city is that after a while, everyone gets to know your name. We routinely stop at the same store fronts each week to say hello to the owners but also to see their pets! Here in Old City there are multiple shops with cute cats, a terrier named Bean and a little Chihuahua that loves to soak up the sun in the window. I can’t forget the Golden Retriever at one of my favorite boutiques around the corner. Entertaining Bailey is sometimes as simple as taking a walk around the neighborhood.
6. Access to Multiple Daycare and After School Facilities
Again, options. There isn’t one daycare we have to attend because of location. There isn’t one after school program. While it’s hard to get into any good day care, you still have access to multiple options living in a city where as in a town there may only be 2 or 3. Being a working mom, I was a little stressed out about how to deal with the fact that school ends at 3 pm. Here in the city, the after school programs pick them up at the school and walk them in a group to their destination for a fun activity until parents are out of work and ready to pick up until 6. The kids have the most fun on their walks usually stopping at a park if the weather is nice.
7. The Farmers Market
Seriously, is there anything more convenient than picking up your fruits and vegetables weekly on the corner of your block? My grocery strategy was made for city living. Every other week I do a large haul, but each week I need fresh fruits and veggies for our family. Philly is full of farmers markets. Every city has their array but my favorites are the Old Christ Church Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays and the Head House Square farmers market on Sunday. There are plenty of farmers markets in the burbs, but usually always took a drive!
Visiting Philadelphia soon? Be sure to check out 6 Must Try Ice Cream Spots in Philadelphia’s Historic District!
Going back to work after baby? Momma’s it can be done! Check out my story on going back to work after my first daughter.