It is really hard to imagine that I spent my first 18 years of life in the suburbs of Philadelphia, hating any idea of living in New York City. From there I went to West Virginia for college and spent about 3.5 years living there, which was a good mix of city and suburbs being a college campus and all. But, in 2014, my husband and I, mind you two of the most anti city living people took the leap and moved to the Big Apple. We have been living in Manhattan for the last 5.5 years and by no means did I image being pushed out of my city by a worldwide pandemic! I honestly expected to be pushed out of the city in the next 5 to 7 years from my husband telling me he wants our future children to grow up and go to school in the suburbs.
We have now been in the suburbs of Philadelphia now for the last 9 weeks out of the 10 weeks we have been on quarantine and I have to say as much as it is really nice to have so much space, I am definitely a city girl!!! Now let me get this straight though, if we were to be in a pandemic for the rest of our lives then yes the suburbs make way more sense, but if I can live my everyday life safely then I would be a city girl for life!
No matter if you’re a city or suburbs kind of gal there are always going to be pros and cons to both sides. After having the chance to live both in the city of Manhattan and suburbs of Philadelphia, I am here to share with you today my pros and cons to it all! But, like I said, this is if we are living our daily lives, not our COVID-19 lives.
The convenience that city life gives you is like no other place. Have you ever been in the middle of cooking and forgot one silly ingredient? Don’t worry I do it all the time and in the city, I can just send my husband downstairs to the grocery store under my building to grab it. The convenience of knowing you are rushing and have time for a quick manicure and it is right across the street from your apartment is such a time saver. It is just so quick and easy to get around anywhere in the city whether you are seeing some friends, popping into a bar, commuting to work and more!
- Creativity + Inspiration
If you aren’t in fashion or a creative person then this doesn’t affect you, but for those of you who love to thrive on the energy of creativity then the city is the best place to be. I am surrounded by so many people every day creating so much inspiration that flows through my head. I come up with amazing photoshoot locations, street art, unique streets and coffee shops. The list is endless when you need a little architecture inspiration.
- Nature + City
The luxury of living your city life that you have always dreamed of, but having the opportunity to still have nature like Central Park, a boat ride on the Hudson or East River is really cool. There are national parks very close to the city, which really gives us the best of both worlds.
- Attractions + Entertainment
The city offers endless amount of entertainment in walking distance like Broadway shows, musicals, museums, sports, the park, pop up events, street fairs, restaurant week and more. There is always something to do and never an opportunity to feel bored.
- Public Transportation
Don’t have a license? Who cares! Public transportation is the easiest way to get around the city or you can walk almost anywhere. It is very convenient not having to get in and out of a car and find parking because the subway and bus grid get you anywhere you want in the city. The best part is you always have an excuse as to why you are late for an appointment! I know that every place now has taxis and Uber etc., but that is another perk of how quick you can get somewhere in the city as well. If you’re like me and hate driving, then get your butt to the city!
- Restaurants + Shopping
For some reason the restaurants are always better in the city and you have access to a variety of different food types whether you like a specific ethnic food or have allergies or dietary restrictions, the restaurants here are much more accommodating. The best part is they are open at almost all hours of the day and night! There is no place like 5th avenue shopping or a stroll through Soho. I know King of Prussia Mall is huge and has it all, but that feeling of walking through the city while shopping is so magical.
- In Person Networking + Endless Job Opportunities
Every single day in the city there are endless amounts of networking opportunities, whether it is attending an event, going to a business happy hour, or a dinner, there are just so many ways to network in person verse hiding on Linkedin behind the computer screen. I know that the job market is very competitive, but there are endless amounts of opportunities for you to work with recruiters to find the right fit. The best part is you do not have to move in Manhattan over a job change! Everything is convenient to get to and no driving commute!
- Melting Pot
New York City is truly a melting pot of people. You never know who you are going to meet in your NYC adventure and where you will meet them. There are so many extraordinary people, with so many amazing backgrounds that you only have this opportunity in an overly crowded place like Manhattan.
- Healthier Lifestyle
Living in a city you have more opportunities to walk everywhere, whether that is the grocery store, the park, to and from work and more! I avoid taking the subways if I can walk. It is really nice to see that I walk over 20,000 steps most days! After purposely walking my dog in the suburbs multiple times a day, I barely clear 10,000 steps.
- Drinking + Driving
Don’t worry because this is never a concern when you live in a city. You have the luxury to walk home, jump on the subway, bus or a cab! It is scary to see how many DUI’s happen in the suburbs verse the city. I feel very safe knowing I can go out to a bar and not worry about how I am getting home after.
- Fast Paced Lifestyle
This can be a pro and a con, but if you’re like me you thrive on the fast paced lifestyle that the city brings. In the suburbs since it is much slower here I do not feel like I get as much accomplished in a day, but in the city, I feel like I accomplish what I do in one week in the suburbs in one day in New York. I know that sounds crazy and most people, like my husband are stressed how quickly the city moves, but I secretly love it!
- Doorman + Building Staff
I have to say if you live in a Doorman building in Manhattan this is a huge luxury. Having someone there to make you feel safe every single day and calls you when someone arrives to visit is amazing. I love that there is always someone to collect and sign for my packages. In the suburbs if you miss a delivery time you have to keep waiting or schedule it better, in the city there is always someone who is there waiting to collect. I also love that all of the common spaces in my building are cleaned twice daily, but in the suburbs I barely clean or have someone clean once a week! Having a doorman is a true privilege that not everyone in the city life get to have, but if you do hold onto it!
- Small Living + Lack of Storage
Yes, we all know how small your apartment will be in Manhattan and we definitely know that there will be a lack of closets. Our very first apartment in NYC was about 980 square feet with one sliding door closet and one mini walk in closet. We barely had any space to cook let alone sleep, but that is what you sacrifice to live in the best place in the world. We then moved into a 1100 square foot apartment, which was a true one bedrooms with three sliding door closets, a full kitchen and full living room, which was definitely an upgrade and I’d say the average size for a couple living in New York City. Now we are fortunate enough to live in a full two-bedroom apartment with 2.5 bathrooms a full living room, dining room and kitchen at 1400 square feet with 1000 square feet of outdoor space. This was a huge upgrade and definitely not your typical NYC living situation, but like I said if you have the chance to live in this amazing city and love the energy that it brings, the size of your home, that you are only in pretty much for dinner, bed and the weekends is totally worth it!
- Public Transportation Sanitary
If you haven’t heard, NYC just started cleaning the subways from 1am to 5am on week days during COVID-19 for the first time….EVER. Yes, the subways are not super cleanly, but they are convenient and you can have sanitizer in your bag at all times. (and now gloves and a facemask!)
- Expensive + Higher Taxes
The city will always have higher taxes and the cost of living is much higher. This is because there are so many people trying to live on this city island and it costs more for goods to be imported in through the waterways. It is not easy making it in Manhattan, but with expensive living also comes a higher salary.
If you do not do well in tight spaces then the city is not for you, Bars are always packed, well before COVID-19 they were, and the sidewalks are swarming with people, especially during rush hour. This is definitely all about comfort and you have to make that decision are you okay with being squished on a subway at 6pm to get home from work?
Noise would have to be a pro and a con of city living. If you are used to the suburbs, then the noises that you hear in the city during the night might be alarming and frustrating. If you are like me and you’re used to the loud city noises and then came to the suburbs for quarantine, sleeping has not been easy. I love the city noises, especially when I am going to sleep. I love the idea that there is always something going on around me verse the scared feeling in the suburbs that someone might break into my home and that’s all I will hear! Also, lately bats at night have been hitting my window and I pretty much jump out of my skin each time!
- City Traffic
I have to say this is the only part of the city I really do not like. The worst city traffic occurs when it is raining and everyone is jumping in a cab or Uber to avoid walking to the subways, rush hour or leaving the city on a holiday weekend! Otherwise the regular daytime traffic doesn’t exist because like I said no one takes cars in the city like you do in the suburbs.
- Space + Land + Yard + Closets
In the suburbs, there are much more opportunities to have lots of space, a large home with land and a yard. There is much more room for storage and closets. You can have a pool or tennis court right in your back yard, a gym in your house and multiple bedrooms. This is the biggest reason I would personally move to the suburbs.
- Cheaper Cost of Living + Lower Taxes
Suburban life means that your grocery bills will be much lower and your taxes will be as well. It is crazy to think that the taxes to my two bedroom NYC apartment are at least 7x more than the suburbs of a 6-bedroom home. That being said, like we talked about for the pros of living in Manhattan, the pay cuts are much lower here because you have less incurred payments.
- Less crowded
If you do not like being around people, then the suburbs are perfect for you! My husband loves how calm it is living in the suburbs right now, but honestly I am sad I do not have the crowds and energy of Manhattan, well not right now during COVID-19, but daily living that would be a huge thing I would miss if we left NYC.
Having a home without a doorman, maintenance staff or building neighbors gives you much more privacy. I never thought about it that everyone in a building pretty much knows all the dirty details of the surrounding neighbors, but if you are a very private person then the more space you have in the suburbs the better.
- Better Public Schools
If you live in the city, the majority of people do not feel comfortable with the public-school system and end up having to pay for private school. I think it is a huge luxury to be able to go to an amazing public school in the suburbs that your taxes are already paying for. This is another big reason my husband and I would want to be in the suburbs once our first child is ready for kindergarten.
The suburbs like I said before are very quiet, especially at night. If you need that sense of peace and quiet, then the suburbs are totally for you! I love the sound of city noise when I am falling asleep, but this is something you have to be used to.
- Inconvenient + Cars
I find it very inconvenient to have to use a car to get anywhere in the suburbs. Yes, it is really nice to have your car on those Costco days, but if you’re living in the city you’re not going to Costco! Every time you forget an ingredient cooking you either have to text a neighbor, find an alternative or get in the car to go to the grocery store. Any time you want to leave your house you have to take the car, which means you have to have a license.
Living in the suburbs means you have a much simpler lifestyle. This is definitely a pro and con as this may be what you’re used to, but for a city girl I find myself bored and having to come up with ways to entertain myself, which again means getting in the car to go somewhere.
I find it so crazy to think that you can go an entire day without seeing anyone in the suburbs. I have a puppy so I at least see people a little bit while walking the dog, but even that is rare. In the city, at least you pass your neighbors, your doorman, and the streets are always flooded with people. If you have a family then at least you aren’t totally alone, but not everyone does!
- Slower Lifestyle
Suburban life is definitely a slower lifestyle then city living. This can be a pro if you like a slower lifestyle, but for an active person like me I find it really hard to slow down. I sometimes even start rushing my dog around mailboxes pretending we are trying to pass that annoying person walking too slow on the side walk in NYC (haha).
- Less Job Opportunities
If you live in a city you have endless amounts of careers at your foot step. If you are in fashion like my husband and I, then living in the suburbs could be a longer commute for the career we want.
- Longer Commutes
Since you have to drive to work in the suburbs, the commute will always be longer, especially after work when you hit that rush hour on the high way home. This just takes up too much time away from your family. Also for all the suburb mom’s, rush hour for you always takes place right when school gets out. Is it crazy to think I would rather be stuck on the subway for 5 minutes then to be stuck on the high way in bumper to bumper traffic?!
- Drinking + Driving
Let me stop you because I know you are thinking that this is not nearly as big of a problem anymore because of Uber. Well, guess what? It still is! Before quarantine I was recently in the suburbs and waiting for an Uber. It was over 20 minutes long and then they kept canceling because they didn’t want to go to the area I wanted to be dropped off at. In the city Uber takes 1 to 5 minutes’ maximum and will go anywhere you need to go, even outside the city! This is why you have to plan to have a DD and cannot just make last minute plans to go out for drinks in the suburbs.
Sometimes you have to take what you can get. Whether you’re a city or a suburbs girl there are always going to be pros and cons, but you have to do what is best for you and your family. On that note any suggestions for my family because half of us (ME) would do anything to never leave Manhattan, but the other half (HUBBY) would as he has been saying to me since we left the city to go to the suburbs for quarantine…. “I’ll send for my things!”
“In New York, Concrete Jungle where dreams are made of, there’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York these streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you.” –Jay Z + Alicia Keys American Singers + Artists