It’s a question I’m going to guess most new parents (or people settling in their 30s) tackle. Do we settle in the city vs. Chicago suburbs? The debate pops up over cost, schools and, of course, space. Now that we’re [seriously] searching for a home [because we never stopped after we flipped our Lincoln Park condo], the conversation comes up a lot. Emilia is obviously a huge factor, too! Being a mom certainly changes things.
First, why move again? Aren’t we always moving?
Oh my gosh, I know. I’ve lived in 6 places in the last 10 years and 3 of those are with Matt [although Lauren is still my longest-standing roommate. I think Matt finally laps her this year, ha!] It feels like we’re constantly packing. However, I must tell you, when you move so frequently, you don’t collect too many things. I’m essentially a living breathing example of Marie Kondo.
After we sold our Lincoln Park condo [pour one out for that vintage beauty – I got really real about the situation here], we decided to rent. It sold so fast! Within 24 hours we were under contract by using a few tricks including Brooke Vanderbok. We weren’t sure what we’d want to buy if we’d have kids, [the list goes on] so we decided to rent. We also never really stopped looking (as Brooke, we keep her busy!). However, over the last 12 months, we’ve gotten super serious.
City vs. Chicago Suburbs
There are so many factors that go into a decision like this for people. I feel like the main topics everyone debates are:
Proximity to work
Some people don’t mind an hour plus commute to work. They can multi-task on the train. Others prefer to walk to work or ride the El.
Space vs. Affordability
This is a tricky one. The city is obviously much more expensive for the space you can get versus in the suburbs. On the flip side, the taxes are often higher in the suburbs because you have more space. It’s a bit of a catch twenty-two!
What do you define as convenient? Walking out your door and stumbling to the retail location you need? Or is it pulling up and finding easy parking your car? Everyone is different here. Some people wear out on the ‘communal’ aspect of the city. Personally, I love it. I love the energy and the vibes.
For us, we narrowed it down to Evanston or the city. Our big drivers are clear….
Safety is a big concern
The safety has worn on me a lot this year. We’ve heard of so many carjackings and other unfortunate situations in our neighborhood that’s super sad and scary. It still weighs on me frequently. If we don’t end up in the city, I can tell you this would be one of the major reasons why. I want to feel safe walking outside of my home. I do think some of this is solvable based on how busy the area is of our future home.
We want a yard because we’re getting a dog
Oh no, not yet! Are you kidding?! I’m still living off of dry shampoo with a baby. However, eventually, we know we want a dog. We want a yard for Emmie to run around in and a place to entertain. I’d love to have a garden. Is this possible in the city without rats eating your veggies? Seriously, someone help me here… I can picture myself planting flowers on a sunny Saturday while Matt and Emmie play catch in the backyard or a fun game of tag. Little Theo (that’s our dog, not a second child btw) running around right behind Emmie. One day…
A neighborhood school is a must
In the suburbs, everyone goes to the same school if they go to public school. In the city, that’s not always the case because there are magnet schools, lottery schools, and more private schools. If you buy in a neighborhood where you like the school through your child can attend that school. Believe it or not [I know some of you are doubting this], city schools beat suburb schools in some cases. You just need to live in the right neighborhood or prepare multiple options for lotteries, etc. For us, it’s important that Emmie goes to school with neighbor kids. Matt, in particular, has spent a ton of time figuring out city schools for us.
Walkability is huge
I kid you not – we walk 10 miles a weekend when the weather is nice. We rarely drive even with Emmie. If we can get there on foot, we’re in. Being able to walk to a handful of restaurants, a workout place or two, and a coffee shop are must-haves for us. Everyone is different here, but I would say walkability is almost our number one factor.
Our family is another big factor
They’re such good sports, but our current location is hard on our family. We’re about 15 minutes off the highway so they’re navigating city streets for about 10 minutes too long. Parking is a challenge. Plus, we’re on the second story. Nothing is easy in our current place. We never intended on starting a family in our current condo, but that’s life, right? I told Matt when we got pregnant, living here with a baby will be a blessing solely for the fact that we’ll have to live through the annoyances of a teeny condo with a baby. And it’s true. It’s annoying and it has greatly helped us prioritize what’s important in our future home.
So what’s the verdict?
Well, we need a place soon. Our lease is up this summer. If Emmie starts crawling and we’re in our condo, it might turn into the Hunger Games. Kidding, but only kind of. So far the city is in the lead. We want to be close to work. Most of my clients are downtown and my hours are random so being able to get to appointments quickly is key. Matt’s job is in Lincoln Park, which is not the easiest to get to from the burbs. We love this city. However, we’re ready to go further north or west. I personally want a neighborhood that’s new to our family. Somewhere that we can create all new memories as The Herrmannitos. If we do land in the suburbs though, I’m pretty certain it will be Evanston. It lands 99% of all the qualities we want.
Are you in the city or suburbs? How did you decide?
Affectionately known to her friends as Millennial Martha for her love of DIY and decorating, Jen can’t help but pour her heart + soul into everything she touches. She’s loved to entertain since acquiring a table and chairs, and giving gifts is one of her favorite hobbies. Jen is the creator of Girl Meets Party. Her dream is to share her passions with the world in hopes to inspire others by making the seemingly unattainable attainable.