I never thought that I would leave Brooklyn. Well, except when I was 18 and I hated Brooklyn and desperately wanted to escape New York. But after that, and especially with the kiddos, I felt a pull towards Brooklyn – mainly due to its familiarity and ease of having family nearby. And it felt good to be there. There were adventures to parks and museums and beaches and walks. There were new friends and friends from past lives and career opportunities. But it was also really hard and annoying. Dealing with small spaces and expensive rents. Not having a washing machine or dish washers. Shuffling on the subway and crime. Conversations about school that were making me both enraged and nauseous. Ok – maybe these aren’t real issues but with three kids it just seemed that we couldn’t (and would never) get ahead as the idea of leaving became more and more alluring. We really didn’t know where to go or what area would be a good fit for our family. It all sort of happened naturally without a plan and going on a whim, which isn’t the way most people roll. We stumbled upon a house, that while was way more expensive than our rent, offered us the chance to have space and test out living in uncharted suburbia. We’ve been here since August and so far these are some of the things I love and miss.
- Hometown: I thought the allure of being their would be stronger than it is. While I do miss it, I love having access to nature and quiet for the kids — simple things that weren’t part of my own childhood. The fact that they can play outside and run wild after dinner without shuffling to a park is incredibly freeing.
- Expensive: Brooklyn is no joke when it comes to rent, having a car and trying to do anything cool with your kids. It is becoming one of the most expensive places to live where you trade the prices for a lot of space. I definitely don’t miss that.
- Gentrification: Brooklyn is rapidly gentrifying and as someone that is from here it is shocking to see how much the borough has changed (re: rent). While I get the benefits of having people from all over the world come to BK, it’s also painful how many people are being pushed out.
- Ease of walking: I love walking. Like, really love. When I lived on 123rd street in college I used to walk to my waitress job on 42nd street as much as I could. When I started working in the real world I walked from the Wall Street area to Sunset Park Brooklyn. That is how much I love to walk. I love looking at things and people, and basically not being in the subway. With the kids, I miss walking down the block to the park and running into friends
- Access to the city: When we first moved, I said that I would come into NYC once a week. While I do go in, I definitely don’t keep to that rule. I really don’t feel like I have to and honestly don’t want to. Maybe it’s denial or maybe I feel free? Who knows…
- Friends: My kids had really great friends in Brooklyn. While I grew up there, it was also where I became a mom and meet mom friends and parents when people I knew weren’t quite having kids yet. My kids grew up with these families and they became people we saw all of the time. I was nervous about leaving our community and these familiar bonds but remarkably my kids quickly adapted and meet some new people that are turning into lovely friendships.
- Coney Island: We used to live pretty close to Coney Island where we could just hop on the F train and be at the beach in about 30 minutes. I miss the ease of that and being close to one of my favorite places in Brooklyn.
- New adventures: While I love experiencing NYC through my kids’ eyes, it has been amazing to experience explore and discover together. Maybe it is the city person in me but I really knew nothing about Westchester and all that much about NY State so everything stills feels really fresh and exciting.
- Still expensive: Probably obvious but Westchester is also expensive but it feels like we are getting slightly more bang for our buck by renting a house with a backyard, dishwasher, and laundry that would be deemed luxurious in Brooklyn. While the housing is pricey, I’ve found that extracurricular activities are way cheaper, especially after school programs and sports.
- Good schools: The school issue is a nightmare in NYC. Everything is either based on your neighborhood or your income based on what you can afford. I was honestly just sick of the whole process where my daughter now goes to a good school that she loves and is thriving at.
- Quiet: Growing up on the B16 line or hearing fights and yelling during whatever hour can really wear on a person. Now, I hear nothing (well, except for the kids’ screaming), which is so calmly and refreshing.
- Driving: I don’t think I ever would have started driving if it hadn’t been for the move. Even when we got a car, it just seemed like something that wasn’t for me. But then the realization of getting around and simply picking up the kids wouldn’t happen. There are cabs but with three kids that sort of shuffling is really nutso. And having the ability to get milk (diapers, wipes, etc) on a whim is actually freeing.
- The train: I adore the Metro North. After living in Brooklyn forever I was starting to get paranoid (crazy) of having to shuffle the kids on the subway. The rudeness alone was driving me insane, not to mention the smells and the fear (whether real or not) was making it difficult for me to take the train with the girls.
- Outdoors: Maybe it’s something you say, but having more access to the outdoors is really incredible for the kids. The simple act of having them play after dinner is revolutionary. We never had that in Brooklyn and watching them run around and go wild makes me see how free they really are.
What’s the same:
- NYC: We are still really close to NYC (50 minutes) and go whenever there is something going on. We still go to museums and parks and check out cool restaurants but probably a little less so than we did in the past.
- People: With Brooklyn and Westchester, we’ve encountered some amazing people. I still miss the parents that I meet when I first become a mom some eight years ago (yelp!) but it is also incredible how nice and inviting some families have been in Westchester.
- Kids: They are basically the same but here it does feel like they have a sense of calm and freedom.
Do I miss Brooklyn? Yes! Do I love Westchester? Yes. Leaving NYC is incredibly difficult, and no matter where you wonder you’ll always feel the push and pull of life in the city. But what I am loving is discovering a new life for the kids and seeing what living beyond NYC is all about.