What is it like to raise a baby in New York City? I’ve had this question asked to me a ton and while I have responded to those via DM, it dawned on me the other day I have never really put my thoughts, feelings and experiences into words for others to read, share and come back to.
If you asked me 11 years ago when I first moved to NYC if I thought I would be here with my first child, I would have laughed HARD and answered a very quick “heck no.” Well, as the years passed, both Matt and I continued to fall more and more in love with NYC and the idea of starting our family here no longer seemed insane, instead we were excited about it and all the possibilities it would bring. And, as you know, it quickly became our reality.
Will we be living in the city forever? ! NO! Both Matt and I grew up in the suburbs and ideally do want that for our children. But are we in any big rush to leave at the moment? No! In fact, our timeline keeps getting pushed back and I think we have come to a place where we want to ride it out for as long as we can (thinking another year or two or maybe even three) before we make the switch. Baby #2 will for sure have some impact, but we are even saying we could make do in our place for the first few months when the baby is young — and nope, not currently pregnant 😉 just thinking ahead.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, If you are debating starting your family in the city, my overall opinion is 5,000% DO IT!
When Matt went back to work and I had Logan all day every day (until he was 4 months old and we hired our part-time nanny), my saving grace was walking around with him, popping in and out of coffee shops, being surrounded by the liveliness of the city, easily making new mom friends and the list goes on! Also, having Matt be able to maximize his time with Logan (he will always have to commute into the city for his job once we leave), has been reason enough. Logan goes to bed so early, so having Matt be able to stay a little longer in the morning and rush home from work just in time to make bedtime is the best.
I plan to break this post out by sections: cost, space, getting around, etc. If I missed anything, leave your questions in the comment section below.
A small, small glimpse of city life with a babe:
S P A C E:
When Matt and I moved into our current spot, we knew we wanted to try and start to have a family quickly after. With that being said, we looked at a more family friendly area of the city, but also a slightly more affordable one as well, knowing we would like a two bedroom at least. Our lease was up in the winter and we typically would always score some sort of deal because no one wants to move during the cold months, so we lucked out getting 3 months free with our current spot, which helped and led us to grab a 3 bedroom (since I work from home and needed an office we knew this was ideal, but 2 bedroom was our main focus, we just got lucky). Yes, there are many times Matt and I go through finances and realize how much we are “throwing away” in rent, but also we don’t have the stresses of being first time homeowners AND parents at the same time figuring out everything at once. If something breaks, there is a leak, etc. we have management who can come fix it. I will say the hardest thing for me being a mom and living in an apartment building, is not having a washer and dryer in our unit. I am constantly having to do laundry, but timing everything is tricky, with being home or doing it while Logan is up because I can’t just leave him in the apartment. A benefit though, is when I was recovering postpartum, stairs were not a factor and I could get into our apartment and walk all around since it was one level.
Also, I have realized in the past few months, the older they get, the bigger their “stuff” gets. I have had to let go of our perfectly set up and decorated apartment and moved things around and placed things into storage to make it a safe space and fun place for Logan and his friends to play (apartment play dates are a big thing in NYC, especially in the colder months). At first I thought I would struggle a bit more with this (and I totally do at times when I feel like we are busting at the seams), but you get creative and use cute baskets to hold their toys, store ones that aren’t in use (God bless our parent’s and their basements), etc. and I know when our kids are teenagers I will look back reminiscing about these days and how fast they went. Are we on top of one another half of the time, sure thing! But are we making the best memories possible, heck yeah!
Also, I will touch on this more below, but when the weather is nice, you are STEPS away from so many incredible things that this city offers that you truly aren’t in your apartment that much. Being a 2 minute walk from the park have been heavenly.
C O S T:
I’ll break cost down, just to help you get a feel…
So I will start off by saying the obvious, when you live in a city, things are generally going to be more expensive. Food, school, classes, babysitters/nannies etc. The biggest thing is to do your research and figure out what makes the most sense for you and your family’s budget.
Since we have a car in the city now (more on that below, but we pay $400/month for our garage spot, you could also forego that and take time to find street parking, just keep in mind how often you need to “move your car” for street cleanings, etc). Any time we are visiting family, I make it a priority to grocery shop in the suburbs, grab diapers, stock up on my favorite wipes from Costco (shoutout to the KIRKLAND brand). Little things like this truly do add up.
When it comes to classes for Logan, we have him in two classes that, through chatting with other moms, I felt very strongly about. Also, to be honest, it was a great mental escape for me, especially when he was super young and I was able to connect with others in the neighborhood. One class is his music class (Little Maestros), which is our favorite BY FAR. The other is a gym class (My Gym) and what I love about this class is in addition to your one structured class a week, you can attend (for free) any of the “practice & play” sessions throughout the week and there are a ton! During the winter months, this has been such a game changer and also helps you justify the cost of the class (most are around $40-$50 a class).
Do your homework and look for free classes that are offered as well. Almost all of the libraries offer free classes throughout the week! When the weather is nice, head to the park!
Cost of a babysitter and nanny is around $20-$22/ an hour. When Matt and I plan nights out now, we just try and be a bit more cautious of our time and maybe meet up a little later if seeing friends or call it a night a little sooner, because it all adds up when you factor is babysitter, cab, dinner/drinks…
G E T T I N G A R O U N D:
Love/ hate relationship with getting around the city. When it is nice out, we walk EVERYWHERE! It is easier, I prefer it and one of the ways I get in some exercise. Needless to say there are times where that isn’t possible. Taking the subway or bus is the most cost efficient, but I have two complaints:
- Subway – A SMALL FRACTION of them actually have elevators. It is so sad, not only for the strollers, but those in wheelchairs. It is one of the things I am the most disappointed about. I have been stuck on a platform with Logan in the stroller thinking there was an elevator and it absolutely sucks. But if you plan ahead and do your research to ensure that a station you are going to has an elevator, it can be a good option. If Matt is with me, we are fine as he can lift the stroller.
- Bus – You would think this option is great and before kids I loved taking the bus. The hard part is they make you collapse your stroller. So if by yourself it is a bit of a circus getting your child out, holding them safely all while trying to collapse your stroller and grab all the crap you have underneath because no one is not rolling deep with stroller clutter.
- Cab vs. Uber – I prefer Uber with Logan. I just feel a little safer, they take their time and actually find it to be cheaper.
- Our own car – We do have a car in the city. I used it for his first few pediatrician appointments because it was raining so we couldn’t walk, and I wasn’t comfortable yet with taking him in a cab, but we truly only use it for weekend getaways, which have drastically increased since having Logan. We are constantly visiting family, trying to find fun activities outside the city (orchards, tree farm, etc.) or simply checking out new places (we go into Brooklyn a lot, and often use our car). For us, with Logan and having Hadley, it was getting too much to lug all our stuff to a train and the cost of train tickets and renting cars was almost surpassing the cost of buying a car. Totally not a necessity for making living in the city with a family work, just adding some food for thought. It does make a big difference and has been very positive inour experience.
M A K I N G F R I E N D S:
I saved the best for last, but I truly can’t tell you how many other moms I have met from simply walking around our neighborhood and taking Logan to classes. This has been one of the greatest joys and gifts of raising Logan in the city. Long story short, but one of my mom friends (and I use that term, but she truly is just an amazing friend) I met because we happened to pass each other on the streets with our babies and got talking about distressed mom jeans (shoutout to you, Jess!). Our babies were born two days apart, we started meeting up for weekly walks, she heard about my struggles with finding a part time nanny for Logan. Her nanny had a cousin looking for part time morning nanny work, Matt and I met her, instantly clicked and fell in love (ha, but for real..I mean she is taking care of your babe so you need to feel this way) and our nanny is the reason I have time to write posts like this for you all…all thanks to me meeting Jess on the streets that day!
I’ve meet so many other friends like Jess and have similar stories with. You learn from each other, teach each other things, and go through the experience of raising a child in the city together. It’s a great bonding experience and the city really facilitates making these friendships. That was a long way of explaining things, but so many times I have been so grateful for living in this city as a new mom and the sanity of even a quick afternoon stroll together.
Also, we have a few of our best friends with babies in the city and it has been so fun and easy to do things together and at times last minute. Dinner and wine on a Friday night at our friend’s who live 4 blocks away, coffee and a zoo date on Saturday morning, you get the idea! All walkable and easy to pop back and forth between apartments.
Also, our nanny schedules play dates to socialize Logan (since not in daycare and getting that great exposure), takes him to the park, and so much more.
O T H E R:
- Noise – Logan can sleep like a champ through ANYTHING and I swear it is because since day one he has heard all the noises in the city. Especially in the beginning when the weather was nice, our windows would constantly be open.
- Opportunities to learn – GAH! There are so many opportunities to expose Logan to and for him to learn just living in the city. From all the different modes of transportation, cultures, cuisines, I could go on forever. Sometimes I get upset that all of our other kids won’t have this experience, but also think it is kind of cool and special for Logan to be able to say he did!
- Family Stressors – A personal stressor for me is worrying about how we will host family who come to visit and the expense for people who travel in for celebrations (such as his birthday). I know I can’t worry about these too much, but it is always in the back of my mind. We do have a blow up mattress which we use in my office, but obviously it is not ideal.
I am sure I am missing so many other things, but this is all what comes to mind. Like I said, if you asked me years ago would we still be here, I would have laughed and now I can’t imagine leaving.