Motherhood

Where Would You Want to Raise Your Child?

Alex and I have a recurring conversation topic; it comes up over dinner all the time: Where should we raise Toby?

We love New York and it has been an amazing place to fall in love and have a baby. But as Toby has gotten bigger, our apartment has started feeling smaller, and I have daydreams about having a backyard (and maybe even a grill or a hammock!).

And New York can be a tough place to live. It sounds random, but I keep having a vision of trying to teach Toby how to ride a bike on the crowded Manhattan bike path, and having to yell to my sweet wobbly five-year-old, “Toby! Toby! To the right!!!” as groups of cyclists, rollerbladers and runners blast past. I can’t get that image out of my head. Wouldn’t it be nicer to learn to ride a bike in a sleepy subdivision or country lane? But then again, Alex and I are in love with the city; with some thought and practice, it could be a really rad place to grow up (I mean, there are 8,000 different kinds of pizza:).

So, I’d love to hear your thoughts: Where did you grow up? Where would you want to raise children? Your hometown? A certain city or state? Do you envision your children’s childhood to be very similar to yours, or would you want it to be different? I am SO curious and would love to hear! (I always think Maine sounds amazing.)

P.S. A list of the 100 best places in the United States to raise a family.

(Top photo by Jenna Park of Sweet Fine Day; bottom photos of my sister and me growing up in England and Michigan)

  1. May says...

    In the Hub west of Boston, close to the Charles River is my core home. Vermont with all its quirks, is a good place to raise kids. Scout out wherever before moving there. There are some nice backyards in New Jersey not far from the City.

  2. I don’t know how LA ended up at #12. We live here and we’re about to have our first child, and can’t wait to leave! It’s way too crowded and expensive, I’ve heard terrible things about the schools, the people are generally unfriendly… not a good place to raise a family at all.

    On the other hand, I grew up in a 4,000-person town in Michigan and it was much too small for me. Ideally I’d love to live somewhere in-between; not too big, not too small, like Austin or Seattle.

  3. I really don’t know how Honolulu made number one, the school systems are horrible!!! And the kids get the craziest days off like Kamehameha Day and Aloha Fridays… I loved living in Hawaii, but I moved so I wouldn’t raise a family there.

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  5. I’ve always loved the city; I think the cultural diversity of a city is also important in a child’s upbringing, but confess that so is space… Having lived in Lisbon (kidless) and San Diego (with kids), moving to the suburbs was never an option. However, when I observe how happy my daughter is when she is running around in open space, just for the sake of it, jumping, exploring, pretending and laughing, it takes me back to when I was a kid growing up in Connecticut with a lot of space to do the same, surrounded by nature, and how happy that made me. So… we moved to Portland (OR) recently, where we get the best of both worlds :) I’d also consider moving back to Europe with the kids, among different things, because I think it’s easier to acquire a particular taste for food, which is also important, in my opinion, but, until then… Portland is pretty cool in regards to that as well!

    • Marta says...

      I am from and grew up in Barcelona, Spain, where i met my husband. We got married and live in Aurora, Illinois and now have a 7 month old baby.
      We are debating moving back to Barcelona or Portland for the sake of our child and also my sanity (remember I said Aurora, Illinois…and I’m from Barcelona. It’s been hard).
      I know this post has a few years, but I’d appreciate some advice as I am very confused. We both can’t wait to get out of here, but we would be jobless in Spain for who knows how long and with a child. In Portland we might have opportunities, but then in Spain we have family. It’s a really tough decision.
      Did you ever move to either place you mentioned? How did it go?

  6. amy says...

    anyone without kids who answered this question with the answer, “move to brooklyn” shouldn’t have answered! you have no IDEA how much the idea of where you live and how you use the city you once adored once you have a child. everything looks and feels different (i am not speaking for all, but for many). after being a new yorker for 13 years, the last 2 i have been dying to get out. it makes me sad to feel so down on a place i once adored, but paying so much for a dump and having my kid listen to idiots say “f**k” every 5 seconds or blast music w/ the N word every 2 seconds in his ear (oh and how about almost running me and stroller over to beat the read light on 4th ave???), I’m done. I can’t use the city for what I once loved about it because a babysitter costs $18 an hour and we have no money to play with since our rent is so damn high and I spend my time when the weather is cruddy in such awesome places as “lowes” and “ikea” just so my toddler has enough space to run around. you’re laughing… i can hear it! but it’s TRUE!!

    would love to use the brooklyn museum of art as a fun place for my child but getting there w/ all his toddler crap while carrying it all up and down subways steps is just a pain. hoping he doesn’t want a nap the second i have traveled with him 50 minutes on 2 subways is something i pray for the minute i leave the house.

    oh and did i mention that i am paying over $3000 a month for all of this?

    i love new york and all it has to offer but i know both me and my child will love it even more when we visit. 2 more months and we’ll be able to move to the philly area where i can afford to buy something and actually save money. good food, museums, culture, parks etc. etc. there too.

    not sure if you moved yet but i think you’ll make the best decision for your family. for my family, i feel like my kid deserves more than what we can offer him here in nyc/brooklyn. and brooklyn may seem family friendly (and it is in some areas) but it’s getting harder and harder for an average to make it there financially. (brooklyn is quickly becoming manhattan – give it 10 more years till there’s a bank and starbucks on every other corner there too!).

    sorry for the rant but i am having one of those tough brooklyn days. wait till the humidity starts and my kids diapers start baking in the NYC summer sun, wafting that beautiful smell in through the front windows! ahhh, new york. love ya, but can’t wait to leave ya.

  7. I am sixteen and I have lived in Seattle, Manhattan, Rochester, Central New Jersey, Martha’s Vineyard, Alexandria, Washington DC, Miami, and Jacksonville. I really love having a dad with a job that involves being transferred all the time, because it’s allowed me to develop my own opinions and feelings on a lot of different environments.

    Personally, I really enjoyed living in large metropolitan areas (Manhattan and Seattle), but all of the really ‘Childhood Memory’ type of experiences I had did happen whilst in the suburbs (riding a bike, treehouses, etc).

    You guys staying in the city definitely has my support. I can describe from experience that there is no joy equal to that which you feel when you finally convince your mom (after months of begging) to brave the tourists and take you to Dylan’s Candy Bar!! It had to be better than riding a bike for the first time in a quiet subdivision haha.

  8. We’ve been having this discussion lately. We live in a small {tiny} town right now, because we’re both attending graduate school here. I’m studying speech-language pathology, which, thankfully, is extraordinarily high in demand, so I can live where I’d like. My Mister, however, is a Poli-Sci/Anthropology student, so his fields are a little more limited. Too, I’m a city girl and he adores the rustic. I know we’ll need to be at least nearer to a city {we’re vegetarians living organically in a town that has exactly 4 feet of ONE grocery store dedicated to these nutritional demands. Super.} I’m not opposed to 4 seasons so long as I actually get warm weather, but the Mister loves 2 seasons: snow, and less snow. Oy! We have 3 years to decide, and in the meantime, we’ll travel to find the right spot for us!

  9. Anonymous says...

    I think there’s a distinct possibility that you and many readers have a romanticized impression of Maine. Please, don’t get me wrong — I *love* my homestate, really I do — beautiful rocky coastline, lovely communities, farmlands, mountains, blah blah blah. But it’s only fair to point out some important drawbacks about “the way life should be” —
    severely depressed cities (Lewiston, Rumford, Waterville, Augusta — drive through any of them and you’ll see what I mean),
    extremely heavy tax-burden (consistently ranked in the top 10 in the nation),
    prescription drug epidemic and related crime,
    lack of economic development and related unemployment,
    lack of cultural diversity,
    high rate of poverty (2nd highest rate of population on public assistance)…
    I could go on, but it breaks my heart. My best advice if you really want to move to Maine is this: make sure you are employable, either working from home/telecommuting or working HERE IN MAINE. And don’t believe what everyone says about the cost of living being so much lower — I moved back home from Boston expecting the “lower cost of living” and had kind of a rude awakening. The only thing that costs less here is housing. And that might not even be less once you factor in property taxes.
    Sorry to be such a downer, but I wanted to inject some realism to whole topic of Maine. All I’m saying is, don’t think it’s all sunshine and lobster tails here, and don’t just vacation at some lovely coastal B&B and assume that it’s the “real” Maine — do your homework and make sure you can actually *live* here.

  10. Isabelle says...

    I grew up in a neighbourhood in Saint Paul, MN, (and was bred to strongly dislike Suburbs) and I think neighbourhoods in cities are the best way to go (though I don’t know much about neighbourhoods in New York). I say, trust yourself! I’ve seen a lot of people try to decide between the two extremes, and I wonder why.

    thanks for your blogging! I appreciate the bitties!

  11. Anonymous says...

    My hunnie and I are still only dating. But he’s much older than me so the topic of kids comes up from time to time. I was raised in the country, big house, big yard, driving everywhere. But I also lived in England for a few years as a kid. He was raised in an apartment in the Lower East Side. But both of us are wed to raising babies in the city. It’s challenging but the opportunities are amazing. That said, I would love to raise kids in Brooklyn!

  12. Maine IS amazing. My husband and I don’t have a child yet but we are eager to start a family and this question is ALWAYS on my mind.

    I grew up in Maine and had such an amazing childhood. Interestingly, my parents left NY to move to Maine in the 70’s and never looked back. I yearn to raise my kids in Maine but we live in Paris right now (beautiful but we don’t want to raise our kids here forever for a lot of the same reasons you gave)and my husband is French. We both love New England but it’s always a difficult question. One of us will always be away from our homeland.

    Anyway, I miss the beauty of Maine daily. Another plus: it’s really not that far from Boston so the city isn’t far :)

    best of luck with this decision!

  13. Anonymous says...

    We did make that move from city to smaller town! Recently left the wonderful city of Los Angeles so that our 2 year old could have a house with yard and we could have more time, plus be near family. So here’s my take ~ I absolutely love LA – the ocean, the people (from every place in the world!), the sunshine, fashion, mouth-watering restaurants, scent of jasmine at night, geraniums blooming out my window in January, everything at your fingertips. Now we can hike the Rockies, walk right outside our home and play with tons of other kids (who are out there unchaperoned! Would never be done in LA that I can think of), and we get about twice as much done each day because it doesn’t take 30 minutes to get from one side of town to the other. We have so much fun. Oh, and in smaller towns people actually look at each other, smile, and say hi when walking by! Very easy to meet lots of other families, which is amazing. We were ready for the change. You have to be ready to leave a beloved city & you’ll know when/if you’re ready.

  14. Anonymous says...

    I grew up in the city and came out fine! Toby will learn so much in New York. To ride a bike just take him to the park!

    Jenna

  15. Anonymous says...

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure there’s only one other Utah fan that commented.
    Utah, Utah, Utah!
    It’s so gorgeous here. The mountains are great–skiing, hiking, we have it all. The people are so nice here too. Its safe for kids to run around outside.
    I can’t say enough good things. Three cheers for Utah!

  16. I can’t believe it’s Friday night and I’m just catching up on your posts from this week and they are all amazing! Thank you for all of this NYC-centric goodness.

    We have been talking/thinking/daydreaming and changing our minds about moving our little family out of Brooklyn for a while now. The whole subject of school, for one, is a black hole I can’t seem to make myself fall into, though now that our son is the ripe old age of two, we’re feeling the pressure to figure it out. (ha)

    Seeing your dreamy posts about the magic of New York first makes me feel foolish for even considering leaving–we have SO MUCH at our fingertips and it is such am enriching environment…or can be. But then I remember the hard or bad parts about city life and I worry that we’re exposing the little one to too much, too soon. Like everything, it’s all about finding the right balance for your family, but in a place of extremes, that can be a real challenge.

    Anyway, thank you for the inspiration/thought-provocation!

  17. My husband and I are in the process of looking for our first house, and we know that we’ll have kids within the next couple years. We’ve decided on Alameda, CA. We currently live in San Francisco, and while we LOVE it, 1 bedroom apartments with no yard are 500k+, so it’s not really an option for us to buy here. Alameda is a small island in between Oakland and SF, and has an adorable small town feel, and it’s just a short drive or ferry ride back into San Francisco.

  18. I’ve picked Maine myself, for now. The small town feels like a great compromise between city/suburbia. I’m loving the walkability and outdoor opportunities so far!

  19. Jeannie says...

    Asheville, North Carolina.

  20. I love Maine! It’s not where I grew up but I have never considered anywhere else ‘home’. I have recently moved from Maine to NYC and if I ever do start a family I want to go back.
    :)

  21. My 4 year old daughter has just learned to ride bike living in the centre of Barcelona. It is definitely not as nice as learning to ride a bike in a small village of 600 people like her cousin does. But then she impresses her cousin by knowing which side the tube doors will open at the next station.
    It’s a tough call. Can’t wait to hear their take on it when they’re grown up.

  22. Anne says...

    I grew up in a subdivision. As a kid it was probably great, but as a teenager, I found it incredibly boring. I longed for the city.

    As adults, my husband and I battled with whether to stay renters or purchase a home. The home won out. But that meant moving. We now live in a small town that’s close to the city. It’s much more interesting, charming, and filled with character than a subdivision. It has some great stuff going for it, and it’s surrounded by beautiful green spaces. Now that we have children, we do feel that it’s a great place to be. It does make some things easier.

    That said, should I ever win the lottery, I’d be back in the city in a heartbeat. I’d be closer to friends, cultural events, stunning architecture, and great food.

    Everyone is different though. And I often wonder if I have a case of the grassies (the grass is always greener on the other side).

  23. Anonymous says...

    We moved to San Francisco from Manhattan a few years ago and never looked back. I couldn’t imagine raising my kids in NYC (too expensive, too crowded, etc) but the thought of the ‘burbs scared the sh*t out of me.

    We’ve found an awesome compromise between city living and having all of these vast green parks and ocean living in SF. It’s a much greener city than NY, very friendly, and super sophisticated. There are hiking trails in and outside the city – plus tons of other cool things like kayaking and surfing to do year round. Oh…and wine country is only an hour away!

    Not sure if you’d ever consider making the move to the West Coast but there are a ton of NY transplants here.

  24. Anonymous says...

    Hi – I grew up in mainland Europe, my husband in Asia, so our kids are bound to experience a different childhood from us.

  25. Maine! I grew up here, and now my children are, too! Portland is a great little city, and Camden a wonderful small town! I can’t imagine life without the ocean!!

  26. Anonymous says...

    Portland, Oregon!
    We just moved here with our 10 month old from LA for various reasons….but mainly because Portland is a place where my son won’t grow up too quick and a place where he will have a relationship with nature. Oh and The Columbia River Gorge is like visiting another planet. Ahhhhmazing.
    For kiddos–because it’s wet here for 8 months/year there are tons of activities for children to do inside all over town.
    We lost the keys to the house somewhere in the move and haven’t bothered replacing them…haven’t locked our front door in months… I’ve never lived in a place that feels this safe….it’s very liberating.

  27. This is so interesting! I always lived very close to the majority of my family and really never considered any other way. It was only when I was 21 and had a 7 month old that we left the city I (and my parents, and my boyfriend, and his parents) were born and raised in! I find it really hard to imagine going anywhere but home when my boyfriend and I are done university. My hometown is a city, but not a big one and I didn’t realize how much I would truly love to raise my own family there until we moved away. I do still have dreams of taking off to somewhere totally different, like New Zealand, but I don’t know if I could be happy that far away from all of my family. I want for my son to truly know and love his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

  28. I am from Des Moines, Iowa and it is the best place to raise a family. I looked on the list and I was right – it is #6 out of 100. It has those Midwestern values you hear so much about. Everybody is very friendly and the education system is outstanding. It’s just a great place to live. And it is a lot cooler than most people think. We have quite a few great places to shop. Upscale areas and trendy urban areas. I love it here. Definitely can’t complain. We also have great seasons. Hot summers, cold winters, beautiful falls and springs. :)

  29. We just moved from #12 Los Angeles to #9 Colorado Springs to raise our 2 1/2 year old (working on #2 :). While I miss the beach and culture in L.A., I don’t miss the astronomical education costs and terrible pollution. I’m still learning to love my new city but looking out at the Rocky Mountains and taking a deep breath of the fresh air makes it alot easier!

  30. I grew up on top of a mountain in Maine on a small farm, on a dead end dirt road, our closest neighbors were two miles away and we didn’t have our own phone line until the mid 80’s (up until that point it was a party line). Growing up in an extremely rural setting had it’s obvious drawbacks but it also forced my siblings and I to be creative and independent. We played in the woods, rode our bikes great distances to see school friends, worked in the garden with our mother, and cared for our animals.

    When it came time for me to go off to college, I knew I would take advantage of everything that would be around me in the city, and I did. I still miss the woods and the serenity that rural living grants, but now that I live in the city, I make sure to take advantage of the things around me that weren’t there growing up.

  31. I’m totally, totally with you! My beau and I currently live in a “cozy” (tiny) 1BR on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. It’s great for us because there are tons of bars and restaurants within a 5 block radius. But. We often talk about where to go after NYC. Maybe Upstate NY in the Hudson River Valley (NYT called it “the new Brooklyn). The original Brooklyn is cool, but you’re still beholden to small/expensive homes, the MTA, and general NYC aggression. Not around my kids!

  32. How about France?! There are lovely little towns with quiet streets and fresh baguettes just outside Paris. Toby would grow up be bilingual and his world would open up. What an adventure that would be!

  33. My husband and I were living in the Mission area of SF when I got pregnant and we’d already been discussing moving back to the Pacific Northwest. While in SF we sold our cars and it’s important to us to try to live car-free, even with out babe. She’s now two months old and we are loving Seattle! We live in a central neighborhood, Capitol Hill, that allows us great access to public transit and all the activity of a vibrant city. But the trees! It is so green and beautiful… so glad to be back in this beautiful part of the country. My husband and I both grew up in suburbs and we’d never choose to live there again… but we choose to live in a city that will allow us to have a house and yard while still having access to the stimulation of a city. While we may have a car again eventually, I am so excited to raise my girl exploring our beautiful city walking and riding the bus!

  34. I am from Maine, grew up in Maine, got married in Maine and if I could convince my husband to leave Michigan (our current residence as he’s from here) I would happily raise our children “the way life should be” in Maine; calm, simple, fun and lovely. Oh how I miss the pine tree state!

  35. I grew up and am currently raising a family in Gloucester Ma, and love it. We have the ocean all around, beautiful parks and playgrounds, an incredible art scene, great restaurants, music and theater. The schools are good, crime is low and it has a real community feel. The pace is slower and more relaxed but we are only 30 minutes from Boston, and a four hour drive from NYC. Join us for some fishing sometime and experience this lovely tourist spot with some locals.

  36. Annie says...

    My children are now young adults and I asked my daughter what she thought about her childhood in the Yorkshire village, 15 miles from the city, 15mins from the airport and 2 minutes to the countryside where we still live. Pretty much perfect, was her verdict. Local schools, lots of friends, lovely scenery and easy links to urban stuff. I’d second that but am feeling a huge pull to return to the South of England where I was brought up. Miss London lots. Sigh.

  37. Seriously Joanne, move to Carroll Gardens in Brooklyn. I’m 7 months pregnant and we are surrounded by parks,hip parents,strollers, great public school options and kid friendly everything. We just moved from SF and couldn’t have picked a better spot to have kids!

  38. I grew up in a small town in the South, and it was wonderful! However, I was pretty naive when I got to college. I think it would be so incredible to have the opportunity to raise children around museums and galleries and free-thinkers!

  39. Jen says...

    A garden apartment in Park Slope near Prospect Park might be a good next step, if you can afford it. Or you could try Inwood (I much prefer Brooklyn though, and there are a smattering of elementary schools that are fine there). Or, if you don’t mind a longer commute and want all of your neighbors to be Williamsburg and Park Slope expats, you could do what we did, move to Cold Spring NY. http://coldspringliving.com/

  40. I can’t believe that Portland, OR didn’t make the list. I was born and raised there and it’s a great town for the whole family. Good public transport (I didn’t learn to drive until I was 19 – I didn’t need to!), good schools, the ocean and mountains are so close. Nice quiet streets, good museums, co-ops and groceries. And everyone is sooooo nice!

    Now I live in Miami, FL and I KNOW why it didn’t make the list. My days here are numbered…

  41. We opted to move out of one of the most “urban” areas of Portland (OR) just before I found out I was pregnant. We are now in a semi-rural area on the southside of the city, but it only takes us 20 minutes to get to downtown Portland by car. We have a 1/3rd acre lot, a comfortable house, a view of the river, and nice, loving neighbors. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? For my husband and me, yes, but for our now 3.5-year old son, no. Problem #1: There are no other children close to his age within a 1/2 mile of us. Problem #2: Our son is about as extroverted as they come. He is miserable living here and on the days he isn’t in preschool (in downtown Portland) we end up driving closer into town to find parks, etc. that are full of kids. He would be much happier in an urban neighborhood chock full of people whom he could chat with all day long.

  42. My husband and I had the exact same discussions many times. We were living in Portland Oregon when my daughter was born. Awesome city and in many ways a great place to raise a child. Part of our problem was most of our family lived in the Mid-west and we were starting to feel real guilty about living so far a away. We ended up moving to Sioux Falls, SD a year ago. Yes it sounds lame but it is an unbelievably wonderful place to raise a child. Beautiful parks, great schools, and low crime rate. We also could afford a decent size house in a great neighborhood. Also shortly after moving to Sioux Falls I was watching an episode of cops and a lot of it was being filmed in our old neighborhood. I made me feel like we made the right decision. Don’t worry to much, you’ll end up in the place you are meant to be.

  43. Ooo, glad to see Indianapolis is on that top 100 list (although on a political ad this afternoon I heard that Indianapolis is also one of the most dangerous cities … I wonder how people come up with any of these conclusions!).

    We have a little house and yard just outside Indianapolis. Nice to have our own small (read: manageable) yard within walking distance of shops, coffee houses, the library. However I sometimes wish we could live out in the country so my daughter can have acres to roam.

  44. Anonymous says...

    I grew up in brooklyn and you couldn’t pay me 1 million dollars to change that [if I could.] Living in NY is so magical as a kid and even at a young age we understood that– imagine having field trips to the Museum of Natural History, having track practice along the BK Bridge, the bazillion lights, pizzas, and people. It was phenomenal. We also got the unique advantage of being sociable, early, and extremely street smart– which a lot of people aren’t. From the age of 6, I new exactly where I lived and how to get there by foot, driving, bur, or any of the trains; I knew which strangers to talk to and which not to; I saw an incredible amount of racial, sexual, religious, soci- economic diversity – that is truly hard to find outside of NY, and I developed a big city mentality– I knew that no dream was too big and no opportunity too distant to reach. How amazing to have that growing up. The advantage of Brooklyn, in particular, is that my parents own a home– so I had a backyard, I had a front yard, I had neighbors who knew me. My neighborhod is filled with wooden and brownstone row houses but a couple of neighborhoods over you get houses that rival even those in the best suburbds– huge on huge plots of land. And, despite the recent rise of hipsters, Brooklyn isn’t douchey at all. I also loved growing up here because we never suffered from “mall syndrome” as a kid– we had SO much to do, not much idle time, and such safety and comfort. I hope that I end up here when I do have a family– I wouldn’t want it any other way.

  45. I love reading the answers to this question. A great thing to think about. I never have thought so hard about it as recently with my son being two now. I have come to the conclusion that WHO he is raised around might even be more important. Would love for him to be raised around the family that love and know our kids so well…..grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. If that is not possible, at least good friends/peers who will help our children grow into honorable young men and women. We will see! A yard and front porch are high on my list though!
    :) Anna

  46. I grew up basically in the country in the midwest and then my family moved to a larger city when I was in high school. Looking back, I LOVED having all space to build snowmen, run forever in our yard and being able to look outside with NO city lights. I would love that balance between city/country life. We can have it all, right?!

  47. LK says...

    I grew up in the San Fernando Valley (a suburb of Los Angeles) and despite the valley girl jokes, it was a good place to grow up. There is a lot going on and LA is so close, so it’s hard to get bored. I live in downtown San Diego now and love it and I think it would be a cool place to grow up. There is a lot of culture and history and I love some of the neighborhoods near downtown (I could still have a yard!). No matter what, when I have a kid I want to be in or, very near, a big city so my kids won’t be bored and will have a wide range of cultures around them.

  48. Grace says...

    Cape Cod, Mass. You’re 2 hours and change from Boston and you’ve got the ocean, what more could you want?

  49. I always resented my parents in my teen years for my countryside upbringing- I’m sure I’ve mentioned before I live just four miles from Sherborne, in Dorset in one of the teeny villages that surround the little town of Sherborne. That said, now I would not want to live in a town with children so I guess I would do the same as my parents did, or by the beach somewhere that children could appreciate outdoors. I mostly see my future back in the Canary Islands and could imagine bringing children up there and them having a fabulous life. I guess that’s half of growing up though, wanting things the way they were for you.

    Do any of your friends have children in the city, who are older than Toby, how do they find living in the city with children, would they move if they could? xx

  50. Julia says...

    I loved growing up in Washington, DC. Our neighborhood was residential enough for middle-of-the-street bike lessons and a big back yard, but also incredibly accessible to the bustle of city life. Also, the Smithsonian museums are free and open every single day except Christmas. There is no better (or cheaper) place to learn and explore than the National Mall. Due to height restrictions in the city (no building can be taller than the Capitol Dome), DC is incredibly green and Parisian in feel.

    But be warned, it wasn’t until I moved to Nashville for college that I learned that states have their own senate system and congressmen. DC isn’t a state, therefore basic statehood education was somehow overlooked in my childhood. That’s embarrassing.

  51. I grew up in rural Washington, in the country. It had it’s ups and downs, like having two acres of yard to play on and stars in the sky, but there were no other kids around for miles to play with. Now I live in Seattle and constantly struggle with the country vs. city lifestyle for my family. I think we’ll probably end up in the burbs, where we can be close to work, but have a yard. We don’t have any kids yet, so there is a lot of time left to figure it all out.

  52. I was born in NYC and we lived on the upper West Side until I was 5 years old and then my parents moved to Kew Gardens, Queens. It was a nice area and I had the best of both worlds since I could always hop on the subway and be in Manhattan in 20 minutes.
    I lived in Manhattan all my life after leaving home. My next door neighbors had 4 kids that they raised there and they are all wonderful, smart and well adjusted kids. So I think there is no rule to where is best. I think it is all a give and take. Give your kids lots of love and they will flourish anywhere. :)

  53. I grew up in the Middle East, Lebanon specifically. I probably don’t recommend raising kids there (war tends to get in the way of proper parenting).. But I’m still growing up, and I’ve decided on Seattle, just big enough to satisfy my big city adventure but small enough not to be scared to walk out.

  54. Athens, GA. The best little big town in America. Wonderful and cool music scene, big University that gives it a cool young vibe, but yet not too young my hubby and I feel like the old folks in town! Great school systems and we are only an hour away from a big city if we want to do it up one weekend with our kids (but we would have to endure the major Atlanta traffic- yuck!). Oh, and GA has gorgeous weather, on the hot side, but not too bad. Rather partial to my little city, but it is the birthplace of the group REM, so you know it’s got a cool factor.

  55. My husband and I recently moved back to my hometown…a small town about 45 minutes from Seattle. And now we’re expecting our first baby this January! I wanted my kids to grow up with a yard and animals around. We live on two acres and have a big veggie garden. Right now we just have a dog, but I can see us getting some backyard chickens some day!

  56. Morgie's Mom says...

    I grew up in Manila, Philippines! It was busy, crowded and at times dangerous but I knew all my neighbors and learn to ride a bike with no trainers. I turned out more than okay. I now live in the Silicon Valley which is a great place to raise a toddler, mine being 3 years old. I guess it doesn’t matter where you raise your child, but how you raise him.

  57. This is something my boyfriend and I grapple with every time we talk about our future. I’m from the Midwest and had the chance to split my childhood between a farm, a small town, and a mid-size, mostly suburban city (Omaha, NE). My boyfriend is born and raised in NY. I think NYC is great but I also know that I want my kids to have what I had – a safe backyard to run around barefoot in and the opportunity to take part in a ton of extra-curriculars – unless you are a millionaire in NYC these things don’t seem possible. Even swimming lessons here cost upwards of $200 at the Y!

    I say raise kids somewhere with fresh air and space and let them return to NYC for their own adventure when they get older.

  58. MJ says...

    I grew up in the close ‘burbs of Boston (like still on public transit line into the city). It was a great place to grow up; plenty of diversity, lots of grassy backyards and neighborhood pools.

    My babes is 8 months old and we are currently living in Madison, Wisconsin, which seems to be an awesome place for kids to grow up, although I miss the mountains and some of the East Coast sass. We are contemplating our next move…probably another small city…hopefully in a place that will allow for lots of outdoorsiness (Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, No. California)?? Although these places are far from our family in New England, so we’re not entire sure what to do.

  59. New York is the absolute best place to grow up! Apartments are small, there are no backyards or hammocks, but a whole world is outside your door. I’m a 3rd generation New Yorker, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

  60. I grew up in NH, (Keene, NH to be exact) and I could never say enough about it. My parents specifically moved there to raise my siblings and me and I’m so glad they did. It was a beautiful place to grow up with plenty of woods and streams and fields to play in and a strong sense of community.

  61. I vote Maine! I grew up in central Maine and I crave it just about every day now that I live in Dublin. Just promise you’ll drive beyond Southern Maine before you make any decisions! It’s so different once you get to Portland!

  62. Meghan says...

    I was born and raised in #36 on the top places to live list: Raleigh, North Carolina. I love my hometown- it’s 2 hours from the beach and 4 hours from the mountains so you can easily choose which type of trip you’d like to take and just hop in the car. It’s full of southern hospitality and charm. It’s got relatively bearable winters (from a southerner’s perspective, of course) and is close enough to water to escape the heat of the summer. The movers and shakers of the area are constantly bringing in new and exciting activities, venues, and restaurants for locals and visitors to explore.
    It’s just been voted, again, the best place to live in the country for a plethora of reasons (including cost of living, job opportunities, parks and recreation, etc) and I can’t help but to agree with the people who have placed my hometown in such high regard.
    My husband and I are raising our daughter here and, hopefully, she will feel the same way about her hometown as I do.

  63. Ive lived in the city forever but now that I have kids I want to move away to the suburbs. I just think its better for them to grow up there.

  64. I love living in a city. Suburbs are death. I’m not sure how I would feel about Manhattan, but try Brooklyn! Places like New Orleans, Brooklyn, and some areas of Washington, DC are a mix of concrete and grass, so it’s really a great experience.

  65. I grew up on the banks of the snake river in a small Idaho town. My 3 best friends and I were set free on a massive ranch that sat right on the river. Dressing like indians, building forts next to the horses, finding the natural-growing cat nip (yikes) and bringing home wild animals was totally the norm. By the time I was 4 it was no big deal that I went out exploring all day-as long as I came home for a nap. :) That freedom brought out an adventurous spirit that will always be with me and I am so grateful for that. Now, I live in San Francisco and I absolutely adore this city. But, when the time comes to raise a family, I think I want my kids to have space and the ability to find adventure by themselves, like I did.

  66. Megan says...

    I live in a suburb about 10 min outside of Montreal, Canada. My husband and I moved here 9 years ago when we decided to get married and purchase our first home. We loved living downtown and wanted to stay close to the city but we also wanted the greenery. Fortunately, we were on the same page. However, the hard part has been dealing with my friends. They have remained hard core city people and don’t like to make the trek to our place – even though it is only a 25 min car ride. Makes me sad. It has also made me doubt my choice to live here sometimes, that it makes me “not cool” or not urban. However, the reality is that since having our daughter in 2009, I know without a doubt that we made the right decision for us. And I guess that is all that really matters. I can wish all I want that I lived a more urban lifestyle but it is not who we are. We like having parks a 2 min walk from our front door, on a quiet cul-de-sac where kids play and draw on the pavement with chalk. We have lakes full of ducks, fish, herons and turtles. We feel that it will be great place for our daughter to grow up while still being very close to the city. There a lot of kids and we now know our neighbours. We feel like we are a part of a community. However, the most important thing that I have come to realize is that while this may be the right choice for us, it is not for everyone and I have to accept and respect that even if my friends don’t. What a great discussion and obviously where we live is an important issue for our generation. My Mum thinks it is silly how concerned we are about where we live and what it says about us. I think it is just because we have some many wonderful options available to us.

  67. HI! I’ve been living in Buenos Aires, Argentina for 15 years! and we have the same question in owr minds, because we want to start a family soon…This is a big city good to study and work but too big for me to race a child…to noisy, crowded and not clean at all! I’d like to move soon but as you said…how? when? what about our jobs? I grew up in a small city and learn to ride a bike outside my house bacause it wasn’t dangerous at all, and i’ll love to race my child the sae way….

  68. Well, you may or may not have ever heard about this city I live in and I know you are only expecting the states in the US; but I’m gonna share mine anyway. It’s called Medan, a quite big city in Indonesia. I grew up here and this definitely is one of the very good cities to raise kids in. We’ve got beautiful houses with gardens, pools and the distance to places is not that far…

    http://veronicalestari.blogspot.com

  69. Kziv says...

    We just moved from Brooklyn to my hometown, #39, buffalo, ny! We also love the city, but with a 3 month old baby, i had dreams of raising her the way i was raised. Buff might have a bad rep as a rustbelt city with cold winters, but couldnt be further from the reality! This city is filled with amazing people, beautiful outdoor spaces, museums, theater, incredible restaurants, and a top notch public school system. Not to mention the fact that we can buy a house here for the cost of a tiny studio in nyc :) it was really tough to leave the city where we fell in love, had a baby, and started careers we love, but now that we are here, we couldnt be happier.

    And thanks for this amazing blog! All of your topics are so spot on with what is going on in my life it is like you are reading my mind!

  70. My husband and I talk about this often, even though we have no children and aren’t sure yet if they’re in the cards for us. We’ve been living in Germany, just outside of Frankfurt, for nearly two years now (we both grew up in SF Bay area suburbs and have no desire to go back to that) and can’t imagine a better place to raise children. We live in a beautiful old city with tons of history, culture and parks – not to mention forest and vineyards within walking distance! – and yet it’s not noisy, or crowded, or dangerous like most worthwhile US cities.

    Kids here are some of the most respectful and well-behaved I’ve ever seen, not to mention multi-lingual. It gives me hives just thinking of the cost to give a child a good education in the States. Here, it’s free – including university. Then there’s the accessibility to all the other countries, cultures and languages that one can’t get in the US.

    While I realize such a move isn’t always easy, it’s something worth considering. We’ve racked our brains trying to think where in the States would be worth moving back to, not to mention where we could afford the quality of life we have now – kids or not. It would be nice to closer to family. It’s a tough decision with so many things to think about, especially with kids to consider. I wish you and your family all the best!

  71. I was raised in a suburb of Jakarta. My neighborhood was removed enough from the hustle of the city, but it had its own busy town center.

    Right now, I live in Southern California, and this is exactly where I want to raise my kids someday. I want to find a nice city that’s removed enough from Los Angeles, but not too removed that a trip downtown takes more than an hour.

    I want my kids to get a good balance of urban city and suburban comfort. I want them to feel at ease walking the streets of Downtown L.A. as well as riding their bikes on a quiet street under a canopy of trees.

  72. Such a hard decision! Nick and I talk about this quite frequently since we are planning on having kids soon. I would imagine our views may change when we actually have a kid.

    Although we currently live in #30, we don’t really want to raise our kids here. I grew up in a lower class neighborhood and Nick grew up by Lake Michigan. We both really appreciate how our childhood surroundings crafted us.

    In Ann Arbor I would worry that they would grow up too sheltered. They wouldn’t get the city life or the country life, kind of this boring medium. I lean towards extremes. Either we would spend a day taking public transit or walking to a museum or they run around outside looking for frogs.

    Can we find a reason to move to Denmark?

  73. Such a tough question! I grew up in Austin, TX and think is was an amazing place to grow up. Plus we lived on a dead-end street with two tree-filled acres for a backyard so I spent most of my time outdoors. Now I live in a Phoenix suburb and I have a hard time imagining my kids growing up in such a cookie cutter place and without a huge backyard. Not sure how it will all work out – maybe we can go spend summers with my parents in Austin.

  74. My husband and I have the same discussion (and we are years away from having kids), but we always talk about the merits of having a backyard (the way we grew up), or having a whole city of Chicago as a playground (the way we live now). I am very anti-suburbs, but my husband always reminds me of how much “bang for your buck” you could get. And then I remind him of all of the chain restaurants we would have to avoid. The discussion goes on and on. The only thing that is really holding me back in terms of city child-rearing is the cost.

  75. I grew up in Bandung, Indonesia and though Bandung is technically a city, it’s significantly smaller than New York, so it felt more like a suburb. As a child, I loved it! Small, tight community, and I still look back at it, grateful for having been raised there. That said, when I became a teenager, my family moved to Shanghai, and for teen years, I think the big city is definitely more fun.

  76. I love rasing Jon here, in the little town my partner and me were born…
    With all our family around, so close!

  77. I grew up in Maine, and it was absolutely perfect! We lived just outside of Portland, so we had the the best of both worlds…where we lived felt like we were in the country, yet we were so close to all the great things in the city (and just a short drive to the ocean!) I have so many wonderful memories from there. Apple picking, county fairs, bike riding, days at the beach, sledding, ice skating, the list goes on. I highly recommend it! :)

  78. Yay Maine! Born in raised in Portland and I still love it. Portland is a very diverse little city, and Boston and New York are just a hop, skip and a jump away if you need a big culture fix. Portland is just big enough to have everything you need without the problems/hassle of a bigger city. I am happily raising my 3 year old son here and don’t plan on leaving :)

  79. I just have to put my shout out for San Francisco. I grew up in the Sunset district there and tell everyone I know that there’s no better place to raise kids. We had parks, beaches, a backyard, redwoods nearby, museums, Chinatown, and on and on. It helped that even after my mother died when I was five, my dad still managed to drag me and my younger brothers out every weekend for some kind of family activity– tidepooling, hiking, whatever took advantage of the amazing place we lived. Now I’m raising my boys in Barcelona and love it but would still trade it in a heartbeat for San Francisco. (New York and London are at the top of my list as well.)

  80. I grew up in a big Italian City (Genoa), right in the city centre.
    I never played outside becasue it was not safe to be at the garden. I saw my first real cow at 25 and I am scared of the animals in general because I never had one, living in a city appartment. Now I live for sixteen years in the green and quiet city of the NL, I have a forest at the back of my house,I have five bedrooms and a big garden.
    But you know what? I still think it was super to grow up in a city.
    The building facades, the monuments and the history are still in my memories, and you learn to be strong and fast.
    I never learn to bike, but who cares I was visiting beautiful museums, art galleries, theathers,opera and fashion designers show rooms from the age of five.
    I am totally happy with my city childhood and I terribly miss the cahotic life in the city.

  81. I love how all those photos are outdoors!I practically lived outdoors as a kid since I was raised in the country outside of Kansas City, MO. I loved being close to a city but far enough away to enjoy the quiet land with plenty of space to play.

    I now live in Kansas City and like you, I’ve been thinking that raising my son in our small yard and busy street might now be the best idea. My husband and I have talked about it a lot but we own our house and selling right now just isn’t very profitable. We’re going to play it by ear and hopefully get either more land or a quiet street (NOT the burbs). As for right now, me and my one year old garden and play with rocks and grass and watch bugs. It’s good, he’s small enough to be fascinated with our space for now:)

  82. My parents raised 8 kids in NYC in an apartment in manhattan (no nannies, cooks or maids). I’m sure it was tough at times but if they could do it back when drug dealers, muggers and prostitutes openly roamed the streets – with some hard work anyone can do it now that NY is a friendlier and safer city.

    I can think of no better place to raise your children. Want a yard? Go to central park (you don’t even have to mow it!). Want to set up a lemonade stand? We set a cookie stand on our street every summer (we have dozens of amazing only-in-NYC experiences including celebrity clients – how can you replicate that experience anywhere else?). Good Schools? NYC has some of the best in the country. Great outdoors? Take the train upstate or into CT. NYers are notoriously woosy when it comes to nature, so we spent two months out of every year living in Westchester fishing, riding bikes, swimming and making summer friends. My parents loved it and it was a good way to even out the experience.

    There is no place on earth like NYC – anyone who truly sees the place can understand that. No place has better resources for raising kids. As long as you are good parents (which it sounds like you guys really are!) – your kids will grow up with a better understanding of humanity, diversity and independence.

    If you love NYC and are happy there – stay, your kids will thank you for it and having a happy mom is more important than where you grow up.

  83. My criteria are:

    1. Neighborhood bakery/coffee shop that feels like the local pub but is actually a coffee shop (aka everyone knows everyone)

    2. Can drive to the beach, woods, and mountains

    3. When you pull in your dive way after a vacation you think, ahhh so nice to be home!

    We live on the east side of Providence, RI and it’s seriously the best neighborhood I’ve ever experienced.

    Get Toby over here, Dylan wants to play!!!!!

  84. So funny that you mentioned Maine. My mom is from Maine and I spent all my childhood summers in Kennebunk Maine with my grandparents. I always dreamed I would live there someday…but I live in Terre Haute, Indiana. I go back and visit Maine but it is not nearly was wonderful to me as it once was. I think it was more the people, my family, then the place. With that said I do wish we lived close to the water…I don’t like being so land locked. We live an hour away from Indianapolis, and our kids love to go to the city. It is a special treat. In someways we kind of have the best of both worlds being just outside the city. Living in a small town and the charm that comes with it, but being right outside the city when you just got to get out and be a part of something bigger.

  85. Anonymous says...

    Burlington, Vermont. It’s awesome, safe, lots to do, small city vibe with easy access to mountains. And the biggest perk, it’s right on the beautiful and fun Lake Champlain with views of the Adirondack mountains. AND it’s less than $100 to take the 40 minute Jet Blue flight to NYC . . . I do it all the time and it’s super easy!!! Also, a little over an hour from Montreal. Very family friendly. Check it out for yourself and you will see!

  86. I grew up in NYC. I didn’t have a backyard or a bike to ride, but I didn’t know those were things I needed.

    My parents took me to the ballet, kids’ theatre, central park, ice skating, singing…the opera & lots of museums.

    Summers were for learning to ride a bike in Long Island, swimming, playing sports and being outdoors.

    When I was a teenager all my suburban friends spent their time riding around in cars getting high since they were so bored. I spent my time in diners, poetry reading, bookshops, parks, museums and on stoops.

    No matter where Toby grows up you will have problems of one sort or another. But I can vouch for the life of a city kid as pretty great.

  87. When I lived in New York City, I always said that I would stay there to have kids. I had grown up in the NJ suburbs, and the NJ Transit trains into the city were like a magical portal into a place that was alive, vibrant, exciting.

    But then I joined the Foreign Service. No kids yet, but I feel like a major perk will be raising global children–I just keep thinking about how much I would have KILLED to have that kind of lifestyle growing. Of course, my children will probably hate it and get sick of moving every few years and want to spend the rest of their lives in suburbia eating cheeseburgers and never moving again :)

  88. Anonymous says...

    I grew up in the suburbs and hated it. Though I could walk to school, nothing else was within walking distance (parks, shops), which means our family was heavily car-dependent. I was always jealous of my cousins, living in Toronto, who would walk to the local (awesome!) park, the museum, or hop on the subway or streetcar to go some place equally cool.

    For me, sustainability and activism are important values that I want to teach my children, so we’d definitely stay in the city. I want to show them that it’s possible to live in an urban environment, but to be less dependent on our cars, to revel in sustainability, to farm in urban gardens, to develop a sense of neighbourhood and community, and to really work to make the place we live a little bit better by being involved in community events.

  89. I spent my childhood in Japan, Connecticut and then the UK. I’m not sure where I’d like to raise my future children but I am pretty sure I want to find one place and stick to it. Moving around was difficult as a child, you already feel out of control of your life and then throw moving overseas into the mix..not fun. Looking back I’m grateful for certain aspects of my childhood, being able to see the world and have a unique perspective but since my father still lives in Japan and my mother lives in France, I figure my future kids will have enough exposure to wonderful different cultures just by visiting them! I loved living in Connecticut most of all, feeling safe and having a big backyard was wonderful.

  90. I´ve grown up: 4 hrs from Paris, 2,5 hrs from Amsterdam, 5 hrs from Berlin and 6,5 hrs from London. =)

    A small town next to a bigger one in a big house with a garden and my grandparents.

    These days i´d raise kids in the suburbs of a great city. I want to have it all!

    Love from Germany
    Stefanie

  91. I grew up in Las Vegas. Now I have two kids and live in the Middle East, which is not really an ideal locale to raise kids. They are really little now (5 months & 2.5 years), and we intend on moving back to the US eventually. I’ve always thought Manhattan would be a great place for kids because of all the things to see and do (museums, architecture, etc.), and although no yards, there are great outdoor spaces. We have very limited outdoor places to play and it is often to hot anyway.

    I spent 2 summers in San Francisco at age 13 & 14, and loved it, too. Again, great museums, and actually a more mild climate than NYC. My other ideal would be close to the beach in southern California because I love the water and kids LOVE playing in sand but it would still be near all the happenings and citylife of the area.

  92. Hampstead England!
    The nicest village in London (and it really is a village… not just another part of the city), 790 acres of beautiful untouched park land on your door step in the form of Hampstead Heath so the kids can learn to ride a bike and climb trees and you can still get into the centre of the city for work/culture in 20 mins on the tube. I couldn’t recommend it more!

  93. i wonder witch places would be best in Europe

  94. I think a part of us wants to give our children either the experiences we had ourselves or some ideal of how we think it should be. But I believe the most important thing is being happy parents and they will have their own experience, their own journey, all they need is to feel loved and safe.
    We just moved back to London with our 3 kids after 2 years on the beach in Australia. Some people thought that was crazy but for us as the adults this is where we love living and they are happy because we are. Plus I feel there is so much on offer for them in the city especially as they get older. We visit the country for holidays and they will always remember those times. We have a yard and trampoline in the city but they are hardly even interested and prefer to be in the local park with their friends! Seriously who wants to live in suburbia? Mothering can be such a lonely job and you need to be in a community where you feel supported and inspired with good friends and family nearby.

  95. Anonymous says...

    We live on the Big Island in Hawaii and IT IS awesome for kids here. There are so many great things about living in Hawaii but the public schools aren’t one of them (surprise, surprise, poll!) but there are wonderful charter schools. Also, people are really family and kid friendly. I do dream about snow sometimes and you can feel a bit isolated (Hawaii is not for everyone) but I feel good about raising my son here for the time being. Like a lot of people, it would be a great adventure for us to live abroad when my son gets to be a teenager!

  96. The city does have it’s perks too : parents don’t spend hours commuting, going grocery shopping, taking care of a huge yard… i am actually amazed how time consuming it can get.

    Personally, i can’t imagine spending 4, 3 or even 2 hours commuting per day ! Imagine getting home in the suburbs just to run trying to get everything done while spending quality time with your children. It would stress me beyond the good health of my family I am sure.

  97. I grew up in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect setting. As a child, we had a big backyard to play in and I could cycle my bike around Prospect Park. While the neighborhood in the city, it felt like a small town and I knew a good number of the people I passed as I walked down the street. But the museums, plays, and concerts of Manhattan were within easy reach, cultural stimulus that tremendously influenced the interests and values I hold today. Park Slope was the perfect mix–a small town in the big city.

  98. Great Post! I had a wonderful city-nature childhood in Seattle (my dad was a Park Ranger, my mom a Professional Musician–the perfect mix of granola and chic!). I adore animals and space and organic vegetables and muddy boots and would definitely rather raise my child(ren) in that environment, where they can tumble and explore and fall and learn, from mother earth and her creatures themselves. I currently live in the South of Spain, in a small coastal city of 150,000 people, in a 7th floor apartment. Its definitely not my thang, and the fact that my daughter is half Spanish will be interesting as she grows up, but I’m still pushing for my dream house out in the country (just found THE one for a small 1.5 million € and my hubby said no…nerd! They were even going to throw in two horses and a pony in the price!). So, while “forced” to live in this small-ish beachfront apartment with to-die-for views, I am now looking for other ways to incorporate “the country” into my weekly life (I am now looking to buy a horse), and into my daughter’s life (she’s only 10 months old right now, we’ve still got time). I don’t want her to grow up in an urban bubble without sticks and stones and broken bones.

  99. I grew up in small town suburban Canada and I can 100% say I would not want my children to have the same upbringing I received. Where I grew up was a very conservative and close-minded atmosphere that didn’t encourage individuality at all and lacked a diversity of cultures. I’m not saying all suburbs or small towns are like that but I think it is a growing problem. Which is why I would rather raise a child in a larger city centre to open their minds to more than I was ever exposed to. It was my insatiable curiosity that lead me to Vancouver and draws me to New York but I know not even half the kids I grew up with have the same desires to step away from anything but their small little world.

    http://mini-crini.blogspot.com/

  100. Wow. That’s a lot of comments! Just started reading your blog… hello! I grew up in Huntington Beach, California in the early 1970’s. Great place to grow up… close to L.A. and San Diego but still far enough away from the hustle and bustle. Looking back it was great, we had a house with a backyard and me and my brother were free to run around our neighborhood without much worry.

    After later living 12 years in New York (college years and after). I now live in Stockholm, Sweden. It’s very big change but I love it. It’s just a very different way of life and although I LOVE New York and miss it with all my heart I can’t see myself raising my kids there. Too tough. I really admire Jenna (SFD), her and Mark seem to be doing such a great job at getting out and away with the kids. Currently we live in an apartment with two kids and it’s big but we are looking to buy a house next year… I really want the freedom a yard provides. Getting away is really important. Kids need air and space and I do too.

  101. JOANNA! URGENT! PLEASE READ THIS COMMENT!! (I wasn’t sure how to get your attention amid 300+ comments already on this post.) I don’t know if you’ve read any of his essays but this one in particular is SPOT ON in relation to your thoughts about raising Toby in the city.

    The essay is called “Bumping Into Mr. Ravioli” and it’s by Adam Gopnik. I had to read it for a class at NYU and I always go back to it. He has a collection of essays called Through the Children’s Gate that you might enjoy. Please check out this description of the essay… I couldn’t find the actual text online. http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/09/30/020930fa_fact_gopnik

  102. JMG says...

    My city of Sydney, I miss your warm sunshine! I can’t think of a greater place than Sydney to grow up in, it is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city but with a really laid back feel. It has an amazing harbour, gorgeous beaches and stunning bushland. I grew up near the beach and we had a great back yard with tonnes of kids around but we could venture into the city easily and experience everthing it had to offer, especially good as teenagers.
    I miss the ocean and the sunny days, the people and the sense of humour. I dream every day of making it back there and giving my son the chance to be a little aussie, I would love for him to learn to surf.
    Unfortunately it has become pricey but the wages are higher and there is good near free public health and free public schooling.
    I live in the lake tahoe area now which is a beautiful place to live in the US but I’m getting tired of the snow and I just miss “home”.
    I think some other areas to think about would be Napa/Sonoma counties, they are so pretty and the food and wine is amazing and there is tonnes of space and it is so close to San Fran which is an amazing city.
    The pacific northwest is beautiful and has so much to offer but I’m sorry to say it, the rain is just too depressing !