Why I Won’t Move to the Suburbs


If you’re a city dweller and you have a baby, everyone feels the need to ask you when you’re going to move to the suburbs. Especially if you come from privilege, there’s this assumption that you will follow suit and move out to the burbs to raise your family.

I’m a kid from San Francisco whose parents moved to Marin and provided us with a wonderful childhood. We were free to roam our world, playing house in the trunks of redwood trees and exploring the lengths of bubbling creeks. We had a first class public education and all of the opportunities we sought were available to us. I’m very grateful for my childhood.

With that disclaimer, I have no desire to repeat what my parents did. I don’t want to leave the city, and frankly, I’m getting tired of being asked “when” I will.

Behind my desire to stay is a strong conviction that our family belongs here. The fact is, I won’t leave the City because I won’t find a community like this anywhere else.

We live on Telegraph Hill and I do specifically mean the North Beach community. It’s not necessarily something I could find elsewhere in the city. It’s my own special neighborhood and its closeness that keeps me from desiring to leave.

Who needs a green lawn or a backyard with a treehouse when a short walk down the hill (while taking in gorgeous views of the city and bay) leads to an awesome playground with a pool and a library that offers tons of free kids activities? Not only do I have perfectly good alternatives to what the suburbs offer, but these places are where I meet up with the gals who make up my mom posse. Isolation and loneliness are not an issue when community is built into your reality.

I have a corner store two blocks down the hill, and I can’t run out for milk without getting into at least two social interactions on the way there. Whether it’s the cigar smoking old dude who feeds the pigeons, the girl who does my dry cleaning, or a neighbor out walking her dog, I’m surrounded by people I know, who know me, who know my family, and who fill me up with happiness, human connection, and a sense of belonging.

You know—I’m an introvert and I do like being able to retreat back to my flat and meditate. But I’m a very social person and I have a deep desire to be known within my own small world.

It’s really special to bring up a child in North Beach. I moved here as a teenager and from my teens into my early twenties it was my mecca for lounging in cafes, playing pool, and staying up all night. So when marriage and kids brought us to our home on Telegraph Hill, I had no idea how family-friendly the neighborhood would turn out to be.

I absolutely love our afternoon walks where my toddler pops in and out of the shops on Grant Avenue to spend a little time with the shop workers and owners. We even met some of our closest mom/kid friends this way at family-owned shops.

We’ve toyed here and there with the idea of living in Tiburon or Mill Valley. On the logical side, my husband isn’t crazy about lengthening his two-minute commute on foot to half an hour behind the wheel, plus the financial investment of traveling to work. And I’ll miss coming by to say hi whenever and help him out with some small tasks. But our decision to stay comes from so much more than that. It’s one of those heart decisions, where you just can’t argue with your inner voice. Home is where the heart is, and in the words of Tony Bennett, I left mine in San Francisco.



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