What It’s Like Raising a Family in New York vs. the Bay Area


In November 2016, Facebook offered me a job at its headquarters in Menlo Park, which meant a cross-country move with the whole fam. My husband, almost-two-year-old son, and I had been living in Hoboken, NJ—affectionately known as the unofficial 6th borough of Manhattan—after a 12-year stint in the city, and had never lived anywhere but the east coast. After much deliberation, we packed up and took the plunge.  

Fast forward a year and a half later. That almost-two-year-old is now a full-fledged threenager, and I have since brought forth into this world a second human. Roughly speaking, I’ve spent almost half of my time as a mom living on the Peninsula and the other half living around NYC. Though there are some similarities (hello, paying ungodly amounts of money for a shoebox-sized living space), there are also some interesting contrasts between parenting on each coast. And hey, at least west-coast shoeboxes have laundry!

NYC: Mom friends from next door

Peninsula: Mom friends from NextDoor

New Yorkers literally live on top of each other, and that proximity allows for easy friend-making (well, that and my complete shamelessness in talking to everyone I meet.) My very first mom friend was a woman I “picked up” in our building’s elevator. We were both pregnant at the time and as it turns out, our sons were born five days apart. When we moved to Menlo Park, I was super nervous I would have to work harder to make friends. Of course, I should have known that here at the heart of Silicon Valley, technology would play a huge part. I found nearly all my mom friends out here through various social media platforms—not to mention our babysitters, maternity stuff, you name it. My husband even started the NorCal branch of his scotch club—a group originally comprised of the dads in our NYC crew—through NextDoor, something I hadn’t even heard of until I moved out here.

NYC: Daycares for days!

Peninsula: Good luck getting off that waitlist!

When we were living in Hoboken, everyone told me to get my unborn child on daycare waitlists as soon as I peed on a stick. New York, they said, is a tough place for a working mom like me to find childcare. Turns out, that was a pretty misplaced fear. We had CHOICES—as in multiple options—and were able to place him at a daycare a few blocks from our apartment. When I found out I was pregnant with my second, I quickly realized that if finding care in New York was tough, finding it in the Peninsula is like doing college level calculus in your head while riding a unicycle. There are so many babies out here—and so few infant care providers. We were number 117 on one waitlist and told “we are currently enrolling for 2019” at multiple others, even tiny, in-home daycares with no websites that we found via friends. Looks like we’ll be going with a nanny share—another thing that I had never heard of in New York.

NYC: Hermit status in winter

Peninsula: What’s winter?

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My eldest was born in January in New York City. Combine first-time mom paranoia about taking an unvaccinated baby outside during flu season and Tundra temperatures and I was basically a shut-in for the first three months of his life. It was pretty miserable, but, on the plus side, I watched a lot of Shark Tank. The next winter, as it was too cold to take advantage of any of the local parks, we subsisted on the indoor playroom in our apartment building and playdates at which our kids took turns destroying our and our friends’ homes. My second son was born at Stanford in March, but he could have had the same birthday as his older brother and it wouldn’t have mattered. Thanks to NorCal’s nearly perfect weather, he and I have been out and about since the day we returned from the hospital. The daily walks have been great for both of us—and the year-round access to outdoor space also really helps my three-year-old run off some of his energy. Plus my husband has taken up backyard gardening—something we surely could not do in our Hoboken apartment since we had neither adequate sunshine nor a backyard.

When people ask me if I’m homesick for New York, my honest answer is, “Kind of.” There are some things I really enjoy about living and parenting out here, but a part of me will always miss the feeling of trying to gracefully jimmy a stroller down a flight of stairs at the subway station while impatient people behind me grunt under their breath. Sigh—feels like home.



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