Can this city girl handle the burbs?

by mssinglemama on April 9, 2008

I’ve officially launched my house hunt.

The neighborhood in my sights is a suburb. The houses are adorable. There are plenty in my price range (thanks to the housing bubble burst) and the schools are top-notch. It’s not a cookie-cutter suburb, it’s an old suburb, but a suburb nonetheless.

Tomorrow I am cramming three house viewings into my lunch break. So tonight I popped Benjamin in the car for a little trip … our mission to get a feel for the neighborhood in the evening.

First we stopped and looked at a few houses from the street, like this one!

Benjamin said, “House, house!” I looked back at him in his little carseat, “You want that one baby?”

“Ya!” he yelped.

“Okay, honey, we’ll see…whatever you want my little angel.” Then he threw his sippy cup at my head and shattered the moment entirely. But, hey, it was still cute.

We stopped at the park, just a quick walk away from the house. Unlike my downtown park this one was bursting with families, some rebel teens smoking cigarrettes and little girls climbing trees. Pleasantville. I asked a mom how she liked it here.

“Oh, it’s fantastic. We’ve been here for five years.”

“What about getting downtown, is that a pain?” I asked.

“Downtown! We never go downtown. We’re always here.” Always here. Here, in the suburbs, how is that possible? What about the coffee shops, the street musicians, the bars…the art galleries? But then I looked at her daughter and all of the other happy kids. They were safe. Cozy. Comfortable.

And then….Benjamin discovered the rock climbing wall. One you can only find in a super, duper fancy suburb neighborhood. And then he started climbing…

And climbing…

And climbing…

Until he reached the top. All by his little two-year-old self. The happy married couples were shocked. “That was pretty impressive!” Yep. That’s my kid. This is just SO funny because his day care ladies, my mom, his dad – everyone who knows him always jokes “This kid is going to be a mountain climber or something.”

So after relishing in the glow of the Pleasantville playground we jumped in the car for one more spin around the neighborhood. On one street I actually had to pull over because there were at least 20 kids outside playing – in the street! Just like when I was a kid. Amazing.

I called my older sister tonight. Told her how torn I am about the idea of moving to the burbs and she said, “You know what? The kids are happier. They just are. And sure the parents are kind of stuck out there but it’s so good for the kids.”

So what do you think… a hip single mama out in the suburbs? Can it happen? Will I go nuts out there? And isn’t that house adorable!!! [I’m seeing it on Thursday]

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

liz April 9, 2008 at 11:47 am

That house is adorable!!!!

You are well aware of all the trade-offs of living in the burbs so no need to go over that.

The comment about ‘We never go downtown’ is not at all surprising. But that doesn’t have to be your life — You can live in the burbs, enjoy the nice playground, big yards and great schools and party in the city.

Keep us posted on the house search. That one is really cute…


Jolito February 4, 2015 at 6:41 am

I’m only familiar with what CoD (College of DuPage) has to offer. I know about this baseuce a friend to classes there while he was home from college over the summer last year.Look at the links in the source list.Good luck


Cato April 9, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Continuing to party in the city when you’ve got a little one at home with a babysitter (even Mom & Dad) sounds a whole lot easier than it works out to be in practice over time. The trains don’t run after about 1 am, babysitters are expensive, and Mom & Dad may look askance at your trundling in at 2:30 or 3:00 am. (best bet, have M&D take the kids at their house for an overnight – less scrutiny that way). Also, neighbors will notice late night comings and goings. If you can say “we were in for the symphony and saw friends afterwards” that’s probably OK, but “we were out clubbing” will not enhance your local relationships.

The house looks charming. NJ or NY ‘burbs? Make sure you figure in all the costs – including taxes and the cost of upkeep (nothing will make you unpopular in the ‘burbs faster than not keeping the yard and house looking trig)

It’s a tough trade off on the surface – you’re giving up a lot of lifestyle – but it’s really true that the kids are happier. Of course, I grew up on the edge of a small town, 50 yards from the “country” and divided growing up years between playing in open fields and going to San Francisco a couple of times a month for museums, the symphony and the opera with the grandparents… But, I really do think kids need to grow up with dirt between their toes. If you can’t afford the big NYC apartment + place in upstate/LI/CT/Maine/MarthasV/Nantucket where the kids spend the whole summer, the ‘burbs are the only solution that works.


ana.biosis April 9, 2008 at 1:47 pm

okie dokie…from one singlemamma/proud new home owner let me tell ya this:

I bought a house amazingly similar to the one in your picture. It is in the ‘burbs’ of Houston. I used to be the super hip city chick, but now, the thought of going downtown is a mere thought….unless it’s been eons and I get a night out. Otherwise, we are completely happy living here, climbing our rockwall at our park too. My neighborhood is also old, but unfortunately doesn’t have the kiddo population yours seems too 🙁 but we do have the park not far away, and we HAVE TONS OF FUN there. And we do drive “into the city” on the weekends sometimes, to go to the zoo, or a resturant or whatever floats our boats that day.

But more than anything, is the floating laughter of Doodles ripping and roaring outside our our very own patch of grass, looking like Huckleberry Fin by the end of the day. Tonight I’ll be on a mission to take pictures of the house so you can see.

It is soooo worth it. Something you’ll never look back on and forget…

I wish you had myspace… I could let you see there.


mssinglemama April 9, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Cato – nope, no where near New York. I’m actually in the Midwest. : ) But not too far off I suppose. Good points about the neighbors, the lawn, etc. Scary thoughts but thanks for the reminder. I’ll have to buy a lawn mower and learn how to garden.

And as far as stumbling in late at night – only happens about once a month anyway…won’t be a problem. And if I’m this far out I might actually go out less – which isn’t a bad thing.



Shannon April 9, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Love that house!
I think you’d be fine. I lived wayyyy out in the country for awhile and I still managed to get into the city when I needed to. 🙂 Your little rock climber needs a place to work on his mountaineering! He’s too cute.


sparklingmama April 9, 2008 at 2:28 pm

I live in the suburbs and love it. A lot of people don’t venture into the city because they don’t need/want to. That doesn’t mean you won’t!


QTMama April 9, 2008 at 2:33 pm

You can handle it m’dear. I think you can handle just about anything that’s thrown your way. And, there is nothing like getting into the house, and looking around and saying “MINE”. 🙂


singleworkingmommy April 9, 2008 at 3:43 pm

I have this feeling we live really close to one another. I live in the “burbs” but I’m still w/in city limits. If that makes sense. I don’t live very close to downtown (about 20 minutes or so), and I’m fine with that. When I want to go down there to party it up, I do. Unfortunately, I also go downtown when I don’t want, like every day when I work. 🙂

Go for it. You and Ben will be really happy. I love the fact I own my own home. It makes me really proude of myself. Plus, the tax breaks!


Hanna April 9, 2008 at 3:45 pm

And remember, the ‘Burbs isn’t the ‘Boonies. You are still an arm’s length away from the beating heart of American Culture.

For more on living in hicksville, CO, see my blog..hehehe.


singlemomseeking April 9, 2008 at 5:54 pm

You go mama! I’m so proud of you! I love those pics of Benjamin climbing. Look at his belt.

I grew up in the ‘burbs. Being the sensitive kid I was (and still am), I felt very isolated. But this was in Northern California, maybe it’s different in the Midwest? I’d do a little “check” to see if there are any single parents in those burbs. That was a great idea to stop that mom to chat!

City life works well for me. We are not far from nature. Mae bikes to school. We walk to the grocery store. I can go a whole day without using my car, since I run my own business out of my home. But that’s what fits me.

Still, I’m a renter… who dreams of buying a home one day.


dadshouse April 9, 2008 at 6:29 pm

Loved this line: “Whatever you want my little angel.”
Can you be my mommy?

I live in the burbs, and while it’s been extremely hard for me to date here, I love the daily life. Soccer practice, BBQs, bike rides, kids playing in the streets, drinking a beer on the front porch (me, not the kids). Wouldn’t trade it for anything. (Though I’d love a little apartment in Manhattan as a place to crash whenever I feel the urge…)

Happy house hunting! And who knows, mabye you’ll meet a handsome Pleasantville single dad…


Cara April 9, 2008 at 9:10 pm

Hi MSM, long time no see.

What a fit little boy. Perhaps a future career as a rock climber beckons?

Good luck in your home search.




mommypie April 9, 2008 at 10:38 pm

I was the consumate city girl. I do not miss it one iota. The peace of mind I have from knowing my daughter is safe is PRICELESS. And because I feel more at ease, the leash isn’t quite such a stranglehold on her, which is nothing but good.

Change is GOOD. And the beautiful thing about it? If it doesn’t work out, you simply change again. Buying a house is not an irreversible thing (although in this market … but still, you get my point.).

Plus, looks like a very cute ‘hood! 🙂


damyantig April 10, 2008 at 1:59 am

Suburbia….I know how you feel. You have to weigh the options, if Ben is your priority, then I am afraid the suburbs it is!


mssinglemama April 10, 2008 at 2:03 am

Thanks everyone so much! I’ve been digesting all of your advice and am thinking, thinking, thinking ….


jon b April 10, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Ha, taht is too funny. We can’t keep Noah off the rock wall part of his swing set. She lives out in the STYX but i have to say it is quiet, we can see the stars, and he can get out and ru nand run without concern. But I do miss Starbucks, traffic lights, and black people when I am there more than 24 hours.


O Solo Mama October 8, 2008 at 7:11 pm

Did you buy that house? It’s adorable. I gotta show you a pic of our house in the burbs (which I sold in 2005). Very similar feel! We had to sell–Sim’s asthma did not like that greenery.


Lisa January 21, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Meh..very very late but i would say not just no, but hell no. We live in the suburbs now and absolutely hate it. Sure, the kids are happy, but kids can be happy most anywhere. If mom and dad aren’t happy, no one is happy. If you don’t fit the suburban stereotype,people shun you, at least here. ( ie we do not go to church,and when people find out, they want nothing to do with us. It trulyis scary.)


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