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11 differences between raising kids in a big city versus the suburbs

Published by Business Insider on Mon, 14 Oct 2019


Raising children is expensive no matter what, but whether parents decide to raise them in a city or a suburb can impact the cost significantly.Besides the cost, major differences between raising children in cities and suburbs include transportation, schooling, and housing.Here are 11 major differences between raising kids in a city versus the suburbs.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.While many parents leave the big city to raise their kids in the suburbs, others opt to keep their family in a more bustling metropolitan environment.Some of the key differences between the two lifestyles include transportation, cost of childcare, and the overall racial, socioeconomic, and cultural diversity of people you'll interact with. Reports have shown it's sometimes cheaper to live in a city, despite many preconceived notions. However, while suburbs certainly have hidden costs, the size of a family home is always bigger compared to a city apartment at the same price.Read more: 6 of the worst hidden costs of living in the suburbsUrban versus suburban experiences will always vary depending on city or neighborhood, but there are some general categories that remain true for every area. Many cities are not designed for kids. However, some parenting blogs ensure readers that most cities are adaptable to family lifestyle.Ultimately, a key difference in raising kids in the city versus the suburbs is what you'll spend your money on. Though it is important to note that kidsregardless of where they are raised are extremely expensive.Keep reading for some of the key differences between city and suburban life for kids.SEE ALSO:I'm a die-hard Costco fan who shopped at Sam's Club for the first time ' and I know which store I'll continue to visitDON'T MISS:14 things you should always buy at Home Depot ' and 13 things to avoid at all costsBoth the mode and the cost of transportation will vary between cities and suburbs.Transportation varies depending on the city. Residents in major cities like New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC, use public transit systems, while suburban families are generally forced to drive cars for commuting and everyday activities.A Vox report emphasized that traveling with a child in non-driving situations allows for multitasking, like reading or talking with them without fear of getting distracted. Additionally, raising children in the city usually entails more walking, which can help keep families healthy.There's a monetary component as welltransportation can also be cheaper in cities if you decide to take public transportation, avoiding costs like car maintenance and fuel. Gas is a major hidden cost of living in the suburbs.Read more: 6 of the worst hidden costs of living in the suburbsFinally, smaller suburbs might not have access to other modes of travel such as Uber and Lyft. As children grow older, the opportunity for independence is greater in bigger cities as they begin to use these modes of transportation on their own.As a result of transportation, children often have a greater sense of independence living in a city.Some parenting blogs mention independence as a key difference between city and suburban living. Without the need for parents to drive them places, children learn how to become self-sufficient much sooner in an urban environment.This independence in cities is often without choice: Schools and friends are located across town and children learn at an earlier age to travel alone. Opportunities for independence certainly exist in the suburbs, but driving restrictions greatly affect this.City schooling and suburban schooling is a big difference.Unless parents opt to send their children to private schools or receive special permission, schooling in the suburbs is generally determined by geographical district.Therefore, young students will usually attend schools with children in their neighborhood, oftentimes with those who live just a few houses away. Meanwhile, in the city, students attend schools with kids from all over the metro area.This has pros and conswhile city schooling allows kids to make friends from other neighborhoods, it may be harder for clubs and other after-school activities. For parents, too, forming communities is easier in the suburbs, since most parents in a neighborhood will send their children to the same school. In the city, the neighbors across the hall could attend a school in a completely different area, despite having the same address.Schools in the city can also be more competitive, especially when enrolling a child into preschool and kindergarten. Still, while schooling can be difficult, there is a much wider selection than in the suburbs.The cost of childcare is higher in the city.For parents who work, someone needs to watch the children after school hours. The cost of childcare in a city is much higher, including full-time daycares."Average childcare costs are astronomical," economist Elise Gould told Curbed. "The majority of families with kids have both parents working. In states that lack infant and child care, the cost of childcare has a massive impact."Hourly rates for babysitters are higher as well."I soon learned, post baby's birth, that I was about six months too late to the waiting-list game for daycares, and while adding my daughter to waiting lists in the city, I was baffled to learn the cost of childcare mimicked that of a second mortgage," Jayani Perera wrote for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.People spend money on different things in cities and suburbs.There are many hidden costs in the suburbs, but certain aspects of city living are unavoidably expensive. Additionally, moving out of the city isn't always less expensive, and sometimes it is actually much cheaper to remain in a metro area than to move to the suburbs.For example, property taxes and the cost of groceries can be higher in the suburbs, but you'll spend more on rent for a much smaller home in a city.The house or apartment your kids will call home varies greatly depending on location.The old notion that moving to the suburbs is cheaper for raising a family isn't necessarily true. In some cases, it is actually cheaper to live in a city's metro area than it is to move to the suburbsmany of which have become extremely unaffordable.However, the size of a family home is always bigger compared to a city apartment for the same price.Due to the housing crisis in many major American cities, many millennials are forced to move to the suburbs. Even without the cheaper housing market, some parents would prefer to have a spacious two-story home over a cramped apartment. Especially depending on the number of children, storage becomes a major factor for family city living.In many cases, a good compromise is living in a mid-sized city: families have access to all the benefits of a metro area, while also finding plenty of options for affordable and decent-sized housing.Parental tasks like laundry, back-to-school shopping, and grocery shopping can be harder in the city.Doing laundry in a laundromat for yourself is one thing, but the task becomes much harder when you factor in baby clothes, school uniforms, and soccer jerseys. While this is a minor difference in city versus suburban living, it's a convenience many parents would like to have.In many cases, having in-unit laundry is an amenity reserved for suburban homes.Other small tasks include back-to-school shopping or even the weekly grocery run. Without an easy way to load up a car in a parking lot, parents have to be strategic about what and where they buy things in order to make it home on the subway. Otherwise, parents are forced to spend more time making multiple trips in order to stock their family home.All that being said, in a pinch, city stores are open latereven 24 hours sometimeswhile many suburban shops close in the evening.Diversity is a major difference between urban and suburban areas.Perhaps the biggest difference for kids growing up in the city versus the suburbs is diversity. As cities draw workers from all over the world, children are more likely to spend time with students of different ethnicities, religions, and upbringings.6sqft interviewed parents on why they picked city living over the suburbs, and several called attention to wanting their children to grow up in a diverse environment."We both really value the diversity that our children are being raised in," one parent from New York City told 6sqft. "We ride the subway with people from all over the world and their friends come from all kinds of families. And that is all normal to them."In addition to hearing different languages on the subway, children in cities are exposed to different types of foods and meals they may otherwise never encounter until they are older and move to a city on their own. That's not to say parents in the suburbs can't try to expose their children to different experiences, but it makes it much easier in a city where there are streets full of different dining options.There are different types of safety concerns in both environments.No parent will ever stop worrying about their child's safety, but safety concerns vary depending on where you raise your kids. Michelle Woo of Lifehacker wrote that while homicide and crime rates are often higher in cities, car crashes are far more deadly and far more common in suburban areas.A parent's report for Vox also said that car accidents are among the leading causes of death for young people. While city parents may worry about their children walking home, suburban parents worry when their children get their driver's licenses.Families have better access to cultural events and entertainment options in the city.As a parent, you won't be as spontaneous as you were when you were before childrenregardless of location. But in the city, it's nice to at least have access to cultural events and entertainment, whereas living in the suburbs makes it hard for a quick outing.Matthew Yglesias wrote for Vox about the variety of activities available to families in major cities: "One recent weekend when my wife was out of town, my son and I went with various groups of friends to the National Building Museum, a WNBA game, and a brunch-hour children's musical performance at a hipster cider distillery (don't ask)."Finally, a previous report from Realtor shows that entertainment is actually cheaper in the city.Spending time outdoors is different depending on where you live.Finally, a key factor in the city-versus-suburbs argument is the space children have to be outdoors. In cities, outdoor playgrounds and parks replace backyards and cul-de-sacs for bike riding and pick-up hockey games.Despite more open spaces, it may actually healthier to live in the city due to the sheer amount of walking outdoors. While suburban parents may have larger backyards, you'll have to make a conscious effort to make sure you are using the space regularly.
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