For city dwellers with children, there is always this dilemma of whether one should move to the suburbs. The case for the suburbs is pretty cut and dry: there are the obvious lifestyle reasons such as more space for children to run around, and also financial ones, like being able to send kids to great public schools where you don’t have to fork out private school tuitions in the $25,000-to-$30,000 range (per child, that is).
In our family, thoughts about moving to the suburbs always lurk in the background, even as we go apartment hunting in the city. In fact, one year, the lure of the suburbs was so strong for my husband that we even went house hunting in various towns in Westchester and New Jersey. Obviously in the burbs, you get more for your money. A spacious house, a nice yard, maybe even a swimming pool if you’re lucky. The pitfalls of moving to the suburbs seem so few, aside from the inconvenience of having to drive everywhere (it’s a given anywhere else, I know, but for Manhattanites, it’s a huge deal!). And oh yes, the high taxes. This is especially true in good school districts in Westchester and Long Island.
According to the New York Times (“Leaving the City for the Schools, and Regretting It,” November 13, 2006) however, there is an interesting upward trend of people who move to suburbs like Westchester choosing to send their children to private schools. That seems to defeat the whole purpose of moving to the suburbs in the first place. The high property taxes AND the tuitions? Apparently, many of these families did not plan to do this when they moved out there but decided to do so after finding public schools a little less than ideal, even in the good districts. The common complaints are that the programs are under-funded, too many kids in each classroom (many of them unmotivated), the administration is not responsive to parents’ needs, and the list goes on.
Guess you can’t have everything, even in the burbs. I’m just glad that we are still in the city, paying just the tuitions but not the high taxes. Of course, it’s not a given that you’ll find the schools in the burbs unacceptable; plenty of families are very happy there. But there is always that “What if?” You can bet that I will be showing my husband this article every time he muses about moving out of the city.