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Raising kids in the city

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Pulitzer Wannabe, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. My wife and I are thinking about raising our kids (we don't have any yet) in a big city. Not the suburbs, but the city itself. New York. Chicago. San Francisco. Somewhere like that.

    Has anyone tried this or is anyone doing it now? I'd love to hear some of the good and bad. Seems like it would be a really vibrant way for kids to grow up.

    And, yes, I understand it's expensive. That's a whole other issue that'll need tackling.
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Major issues to consider if you are going to do it in NYC. It just takes a ton of money. There was an article in New York magazine a month or two ago, that basically made the point that New York has lost its middle class. All that is left are really wealthy people and really poor people (with exceptions, of course). The public schools mostly suck in New York, so the wealthy people send their kids to private schools. This creates a host of problems First, they can afford to pay what amounts to college tuition for 14 years (Yes, this crap begins with pre-kindergarten) even before their kids get to college. But even more sickening is how competitive and bitchy getting the kids into these elite private schools is. Instead of it being about the kids and their well-being, they have become status symbols. Parents freak out thinking their kids' whole life is going to be determined by the school he or she gets into at 5. And do you want your kid dealing with a pressure-packed test and interview just to get approved by some douchebag making decisions about which kids get to enter the club (and it if it is your kid or Ron Perelman's kid, guess who gets in).

    For the rest--the immigrant or the poor black guy--it leaves the NYC Public Schools, and while there are some exceptions, 95 percent of them are zoos that will set your kid back in life. Then there is is the issue of living like a roach. Forget about the nice house you can buy for $200 or $300K in some suburb in middle America. $200 or $300K is not going to buy you a co-op apartment large enough for a family. Think $500K, and you will still be crammed in, living like roaches. Having grown up in the burbs, and now living in the city, I also firmly believe that kids need open spaces and playing fields and grass. And those can be hard to find depending on where you live in NYC (less so in the outer boroughs). So what happens--and again, this is the "rich people dominate NY" phenomenon--is that you have people hiring their nannies who shuttle the kids around from activity to activity outside of school. So take Chelsea Piers for example. You get your kid into a soccer league there or a basketball league and you pay a fortune for the privilege. And the kid isn't even getting fresh air because as nice as the facility is, it is indoors.

    Anyhow, I don't mean to be such a downer. I don't have kids. If I do have kids, I am getting the hell out of dodge and giving them some green grass and bikes they can ride around without having to worry about getting sideswiped by cabs.

    One other thing that taints my perceptions: I went to college with quite a few kids who had grown up in Manhattan--some rich kids who had had every advantage and attended those elite private schools. Others were middle class (which equals poor in NY). This is a generalization, but across the board they were some of the most screwed up people I have ever met. By and large, they were left on their own in a city with lots of traps and were out partying and snorting coke when they were 14, while their parents were clueless. The city makes it harder to monitor your kids. I'm sure it's possible raise normal, well-adjusted kids here, but it just feels like the odds are against it. I don't know if you remember the Jennifer Levin/Robert Chambers story from the 80s (Chambers was in the news again recently, when he got busted for dealing coke). That kind of stuff--teenage girls raised in Manhattan out partying at all hours (not them getting raped and killed and dumped in the park)--is pretty par for the course.
  3. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    I got nothin'....my kids have been growing up in the rural north woods.

    I wouldn't have it any other way. They've been exposed to big city life as we make trips to "The Big City" for pro sports, museums and the like, but they also know how to find their way around in the woods if lost.

    There's ups and downs to where ever you decide to raise your children. The number one constant should be parental involvement. Not being your childrens' best friend, but knowing what they're doing and when they're doing it and with who.
  4. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    I concur with Ragu. We just went through this decision and very reluctantly ended up moving from Manhattan to the burbs. I'm the product of Brooklyn public schools (as well as coming from a family of teachers) and I turned out pretty well. I also love NYC and enjoyed the fact that my wife and I can be home from work in 15 minutes if we needed to be.

    But the public schools in my 'hood were bad, meaning that in NYC I would end up paying 25k per kid per year for school. On top of that, if you want a 3BR apartment with a doorman, you end up paying at least a million, if not much more. Throw in a car, storage space, etc. and it was cost prohibitive. Plus, with one kids (and hopefully more), it's not as if I had time to do a lot of things that made the city so great. Ragu is right that there is so much money in NYC, that you get priced out very quickly.

    My wife and I promised that we would take our kid(s) into the city as much as possible when they got older so that they could at least enjoy the cultural aspects of NYC.
  5. Mystery_Meat

    Mystery_Meat Guest

    They beg to differ:

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  6. In Exile

    In Exile Member

    If you have the option, either raise them in a city or the ultra-rural (and take trips back and forth whenever you can), but do your kid a favor and keep them away from the suburbs. All the f-ups I've ever known grew up in that frictionless, inhuman environment.
  7. A friend of mine grew up an only child in Manhattan.

    Very good writer. Great guy. He turned out fine, and never got involved in all the trappings of NYC.
  8. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    kids can grow up effed up anywhere. being an involved parent is a key that can help never any guarantees.

    but speaking as a life-long brooklynite who moved to the 'burbs at 32, i can't imagine raising my kids anywhere else. we're a 35-minute train ride from manhattan. great community with wondeful friends, loads of kids. terrrific schools. virtually zero crime.

    my take is parents who choose to live in the city are often being selfish. i don't really see how they think it's "best" for the kids.

    and this from a former city snob.
  9. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    I grew up in the city. I kind of had to, since neither parent drove and we needed to be close to public transportation.

    While good public schools are important, I believe education starts at home. No, being exposed to the zoo that some inner city schools are -- I went to one briefly in eighth grade, before going back to Catholic school for high school -- is not good. But there are decent public urban high schools out there with good programs.
  10. JR

    JR Active Member

    I grew up in the Leave it to Beaver burbs in the 60's. It was all-white folks, all the time.

    We raised our three kids in the city--albeit a neighbourhood in the western end of Toronto.

    Kids learn a little self-reliance growing up in the city--using public transportation being just one example.

    And I can only speak for Toronto but the one great thing is that my kids have been exposed to kids of all races, religions and socio-economic backgrounds. Whatever my kids faults, I know intolerance isn't one of them.

    I can't think of a single advantage that suburban kids have over city kids-at least in my neck of the woods.

    And the quality of schooling --public---was never an issue.
  11. We're two suburban kids ourselves. It was all right - my town had some character. But like a lot of people I tend to remember the good times. There is a lot of anguish for adolescents in the 'burbs. And I sometimes feel like I was robbed of a lot of flavor. Mostly a lot of Little League parents bickering.
  12. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    My wife and I are raising our two boys in a suburb of San Francisco. What we get are tree-lined sidewalks, a great community center, new library, and great public schools with tremendous local support from the parents and merchants. The elementary school yard is huge with grass for football at recess and hoops for basketball with a basket full of balls for recess for everyone. My boys have a buddy who lives behind us who just hops our fence to play with our boys. There are kids around the corner and on our street. They enjoy playdates with their friends. I get to walk my boys to school across the street (we live directly across the street from the rear entrance to their school) and they can see their school from their bedroom windows. We get to walk into town for dinner, breakfast, and picking up the dry cleaning.

    I spent 12 years in SF for law school and afterwards (before family). I loved SF as a single guy but there was too much hustle and bustle for me to envision raising a family there. Too much concrete, not enough trees, too much traffic on the streets. Yes there's more diversity in the City but if you go private, I don't think as much. Besides it comes down to economic stratification, not so much ethnic/racial stratification. I had dinner with a buddy last night and he's raising his two boys in the City. He loves it but he's confronting the pressures of getting his boys in the "right" pre-school already.

    Good luck.
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