Sharing the news of our pregnancy with friends has been bittersweet. While everyone is excited about our newest addition, not everyone is quite so happy about the other big change coming with it: we’re leaving New York City for Philadelphia in order to be closer to family. We’re ditching our Jersey City condo and plunking down a chunk of change on a four-bedroom rowhouse in Manayunk.
New York is an amazing city, and after three years I’ve only see an tiny, tiny fraction of it. There are amazing things happening all the time, incredible people, an infinite number of places to eat, and a 24 hour subway system that means never having to worry about a designated driver. My local fabric store is so immense people make pilgrimages to the city just to visit it. And most of all I have an incredible network of fantastic friends here; the kind of friends who come to your baptism, even though they’re atheists, or help you lug an anvil-bolted-to-a-log across town. For science. But despite everything I love about this area, I realized it’s not where I want to be forever.
Our decision to move was based on a lot of things. We want more space; our current place has so little storage I keep my bike in the bathroom. The cost of living is substantially higher in New York, and the fast-pace of living is starting to wear me down. But ultimately it’s family that’s bringing us south. My husband’s huge closely knit family is in Philadelphia, and even before we got married I knew it was just a matter of time before their gravitational pull sucked us in. Getting pregnant was just the thing that put us over the edge.
Raising kids in New York City can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with some unique challenges. The subway system, with its mazes of stairs, is downright hostile to anyone with stroller. A mini baby-boom over the last 5 years has made getting into preschool both competitive and expensive. And just like anywhere else in the country, if you don’t have friends with kids nearby it can be isolating and lonely.
For those with family (or friends with kids) in the area, getting a precious few hours of kid-free time is as simple as dropping them off at Grandma’s – with a bottle of wine as a bribe, of course. For those without, it means shelling out for a sitter – assuming you can find one who is both trustworthy and available. At 6 months postpartum, a friend of mine confessed she hadn’t been out at all because she still wasn’t ready to leave the baby with a stranger.
Only a few of our friends live in our neighborhood, and none of our friends with kids live nearby. I didn’t want to have to choose between wrestling a stroller up four flights of subway stairs and being a shut-in. We found a place in Philly that’s in a neighborhood a lot like the one we’re in now: very walkable, lots of public transit, good restaurants. It has enough room to have as many kids as we want. Best of all: it’s only a few miles from both my in-laws and great-in-laws.
Plus, New York won’t be rid of us entirely. We’re both lucky that we’re able to do our jobs from most anywhere, but we’ll still need to pop into the city periodically for meetings.
I don’t have any delusions of my life staying the same as it is now once the baby arrives, but I’m hoping that with a little help from the family we can sneak off to see the occasional movie or grown-up restaurant. There may not be quite as many amazing things happening in Philadelphia as there are in New York, but by moving closer to our support network there’s a much bigger chance of us being able to get out and do them.