One of the biggest questions that I receive about living in Brooklyn is if we plan on staying long-term and what my thoughts are about bringing up a baby in our 2 bedrooms, 1 tiny bathroom apartment in New York City.
Those who I’ve had this conversation with in person know that the thought of doing this is annoying, yet exciting at the same time to me. One one hand there are endless things to see, do, and experience with a little one, and on the other, it’s a hassle to get to all of those places with a baby from a fourth-floor walk-up apartment sans car.
Before we dive in, let me preface all of this by mentioning that my husband and I had the opportunity to move anywhere in the country and we chose to move to New York City two and a half years ago — when we were actively trying to grow our family. After he got laid off from his job in Detroit, we were having a hard time with infertility, so moving somewhere new felt right. We spent the next six months researching and planning where our next adventure would lead us, and (somehow) all signs pointed to a new start in Brooklyn.
It seems crazy, but we crunched every number and angle of where to go and why, and we ended up moving here without jobs lined up, without an apartment, and simply went off of faith in God’s plan for us here. After living here and actually building up a savings account and a community, it feels great knowing that we made the right decision to start a new chapter in a fun city … now as a family of three!
I could go on about the pros and cons of living in a big city and a lifestyle that we do, but I’d like to save that for another post down the road if you would like to hear more about it. For now, I’ll include a portion of my thoughts and move onto answering the question that prompted this conversation!
Like most New Yorkers that I talk to who have moved here from other places, there are days where I don’t want to hear one more siren passing by or take one more crowded subway ride. If it’s a holiday where I would normally be out on a lake or celebrating at a backyard barbecue, I’ll get bummed out walking the hot city streets and yearn to be closer to family and friends around water and other parts of the country. I don’t have access to an outdoor pool (unless I want to pay a not-so-modest membership fee to a club), and, as a Native Floridian, I really miss the luxury of being able to drive to the beach for the day.
Like most New Yorkers that I talk to who have moved here from other places, there are days where I still can’t believe that I live a quick subway ride away from endless places to go in Manhattan. I can have a picnic in Central Park, see the lighting of the Rockefeller Tree, go to a Broadway show, attend nationally televised parades and fireworks shows, and pass by movie sets on the regular. There are endless restaurants to try, including more than we could ever get to within walking distance. And, there’s absolutely nothing like walking through the streets full of lights and high-end Christmas decorations during the holidays.
If it were up to Scott, we would live here for a long while. I don’t want to say forever, because I don’t think he wants to live anywhere forever. He’s an adventurer at heart, and I knew that when I married him. He loves to travel and explores every inch of a new city when we visit one. He goes where the opportunities take him, and after years of realizing that’s never going to change, I’ve embraced it.
Living in Brooklyn has been amazing for us. We can see the Manhattan Skyline from our bedroom window, we live in an extremely safe and family-friendly neighborhood, and we are a short walk from a gorgeous park that is filled with events, festivals, races, concerts, and beautiful scenery. It’s been fun navigating the subway system and it’s wonderful knowing that we don’t have to worry about keeping up with an outdoor space, car maintenance, or drive in traffic or scary weather. I never get sick of walking around our neighborhood, and it’s convenient to be so close to anything we need at any hour.
At the same time, living in Brooklyn has been exhausting … especially post-baby.
In order to get out the door, I have put Skyler in his wearable baby carrier, take Roadie downstairs, take him around the block, bring him back upstairs, make sure Skyler is nursed and changed (because who knows when or where I’ll be able to do that comfortably once I’m out in the City), put him in his car seat, put on the diaper bag backpack, treck down four flights of stairs, keep him at the foot of the stairs while I put the stroller base down more stairs in front of our stoop (I finally started leaving it there instead of hauling that thing up and down, too!), go back and get Skyler, and finally book an Uber to go somewhere if I’m alone or walk to the subway station with Scott if he’s with me. I’m usually out of breath and sweaty by the time we’re actually on our way somewhere!
I know that I would still need to do a lot of the same steps no matter where I live, but I have to admit that it would be so much easier to simply let Roadie out in a backyard, put Skyler in his car seat that is already in the car, and put the stroller in the car if it’s not already there. And this is in our air-conditioned car where I could have privacy to feed and change him whenever and wherever I needed to. Yeah, that would be great! (Our apartment has a washer and dryer – thank goodness – but we don’t have central heat or air conditioning.)
As you can probably imagine, it’s not always easy getting a stroller in and out of small restaurants and shops, and not all places have a bathroom. Seriously. That’s probably the thing I like least about being in Manhattan. It’s hard to find a bathroom to use, and if you find one, it will probably be tiny, downstairs, and won’t have a changing table. While nobody would really say much about nursing in public here, I feel the most comfortable in a private space, or at least outside on a quiet park bench without too many people passing by. I’ve learned to nurse on the train, and I have even carried Skyler latched on (under my nursing cover) when switching cars to catch another train. It’s not ideal at all, but you do what you’ve got to do.
The City isn’t so mom-friendly, and it took me a while to get used to that when out and about all day. As for our apartment, it would be nice to find a ground level space with access to the outdoors, but we’re at the point in our journey here where it’s not really worth moving into another apartment.
First of all, we won’t find one nearly as large for what we pay anywhere near our neighborhood! (We got the one we live in for a steal and without a broker’s fee, thanks to friends in the building.) Second, moving into a new apartment in New York City is crazy expensive. You have at least the first month’s rent upfront (sometimes two months), a broker’s fee (most likely another month’s rent), a security deposit (another month’s rent), and if you have pets, an additional fee as a deposit (up to another month’s rent) all at once. When your rent is thousands of dollars every month … that’s a lot of money for a move into an apartment you’re renting. Third, I’ve been looking for said “ground level space with access to the outdoors” in a nice neighborhood for around what we pay for over a year now. It doesn’t exist.
So yeah, at this point, if we move it will probably be into a house … which would not be in Brooklyn. Where is this house? It could be anywhere from New Jersey (yes, suburbs) or Upstate New York to somewhere in an entirely new city or state. Like I mentioned above, we go where opportunities take us, and we just never know where exactly that will be.
Ultimately, our goal is to settle down into a home we call ours that is somewhat close to family, or at least closer to our families. We love the idea of living on the west coast, but that might be later in life when it’s just us again. Job opportunities aside, I’ve always seen us moving back to the South and specifically the Southeast. Scott is on board with this idea, but we’re just not sure when that would be or why, aside from being close to our families.
For now, however, we’re doing pretty well where we are. Scott is running a consulting business in sports entertainment and event production, he consistently gigs in television show filmings, and he moonlights at a high-end restaurant in Manhattan. He loves everything about living here and would buy our apartment to really invest in our lives here if I was on board. Being a realist, I see our time here as temporary, and he’s okay with that, too. Life here is anything but boring, but I will openly admit that it’s not for me forever.
I really do love living in Brooklyn, and I would miss it terribly if we moved to a city that had very little to do. I would miss the unique things that we get to experience, and I would be bummed knowing that Skyler never really got to take it all in like we have.
That said, I dream of a simpler life where I can drive with the windows down on backroads when I want to. I yearn for simple things that a lot of us take for granted like grilling out, grocery shopping with a lot of trunk space, and spending time outdoors with my family (and pets) in my own private space. And, believe it or not, I would trade all of the hooplas of a big city for these simple things in a heartbeat.
Like I mentioned earlier, we don’t have any plans to move just yet … so I’m enjoying our time here while we have it. As annoying as it can be to bring a baby up in our space, it’s pretty freaking cool, too.
So there’s the long of the short of it. Believe it or not, I could go on for several more paragraphs about things that I love and don’t love about living in New York City.
If you’re interested in hearing more about that let me know!
I lived in Atlanta and thought we’d never leave. I liked having so many things to do. But then we moved to Charleston and I realized I LIKE being out of a bigger city (Charleston still has a lot- but WAY smaller than Atlanta). I actually would like to move even farther out now. My kid thrives outdoors and while there is a ton to do here, I just want to be able to spend even more time outdoors. It’s crazy how much priorities can shift, especially when I never said I’d live outside of a big city. The hardest part for me is wanting to live near a big international airport since we like to travel!
That’s funny, Atlanta has always been on our radar because it’s still a big city but has more suburban options and is closer to family. But I totally hear you! I’ve heard Charleston is beautiful and I’d love to visit someday! And man, yes to the airport. We’re still 35-45 mins away from both LGA and JFK living where we do which is always frustrating.
You are living my dream life in NYC! I knows it’s extra challenging with a baby but it’s always going to be exhausting with all the stuff you need until around 12 months so you might as well live somewhere as awesome as you guys are currently! I have a 13 month old and would love to take her to NYC but am overwhelmed. Would you be interested in writing an advice post on how to travel to and around NYC with a toddler (~1-2 yo)? For example How do we travel on the Subway (do you need anything special? Just carry her on?)? If we need an uber or taxi do you just port a convertible car seat everywhere? All advice traveling to NYC would be so encouraged.
You are inspiring. It’s already hard being a Mom but a Mom in NYC?! Killing it!
Ashley @ A Lady Goes West
Ohhhh Heather! I loved this post! So much of your thoughts on wanting convenience make me think of my years living in downtown SF. I often wonder what it would be like to have Brady while living there. What I do know is that you are making it work and you’re better because of it! Sending you LOTS of love friend!
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Interesting post! I have some friends who live in Brooklyn who just had a baby and probably will experience the same things. In Baltimore lots of people move out to the suburbs once they have kids, but my neighborhood has a bunch of families and there’s also a park and playground nearby which is nice. There’s pros and cons to city life and suburb life!
I live in California and it’s always crowded and busy wherever we go with our baby girl. I guess we are just used to it over here. But some days I do wish it was quieter.. There’s pro’s and cons to both! haha!
Interesting! Even without kid big city life is exhausting, particularly in New-York but you manage it really well.
Love from France
Love this post! I am visiting NYC soon (from Rochester, Michigan) with two kids (8 mo and 4 yr old) visiting family. Bringing the infant’s car seat but will it be easy enough to travel to our family safely with both kids?
I can relate. I grew up in Florida and after having kids we moved to Chicago and while I love the city and having family close by, it is difficult for me in the winters. not the cold so much but the grey skies. My kids and I thrive being outdoors and I miss that about Florida. Yes, there are pros and cons to both but I also think once being a mom, we search for familiarity as a source of comfort. Florida to me is familiar. We are doing our pros and cons list to potentially move. If you ever want to discuss this further, I’m all ears, as we are in the similar place as a couple, my husband travels all week and I am home with the kids so I am experiencing the “day to day” stressors more ; )
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I so appreciated reading this. It has sort of felt like a positive “sign” if you will that my husband’s and my plant to move to NYC from Florida is the right one for us right now. I’m originally from Michigan and feel one day we could end up back there but for now we’re looking for activity, community, life happening – if you will. Do you have any advice or preference for Brooklyn v Manhattan? I have a sister in the East Village and have thought being close to her once we get pregnant would be great. However, the neighborhoods I’ve been exploring from afar in Brooklyn seem to offer more space in terms of apartment living and also a sense of neighborhood a bit more…