The Pros and Cons of Raising Kids in a Big City

Before having children, choosing where you wanted to live was pretty simple. It probably came down to picking somewhere that was close to work, and other than that it was simply what sort of atmosphere you enjoyed the most. But now that you have kids, you and your partner have a great deal more to think about. Your choice could come down to school districts, the location of parks and playgrounds, and even where your parents live. But what happens if you’ve got all of that handled, and the choice is between a big city and the suburbs? We all know the safety and security that suburbs provide, but it’s also a very particular lifestyle, and may not suit you, even if you do have kids. Is it possible to raise healthy and happy children in an urban environment?

Before you take the plunge, here is a look at some of the pros and cons of raising kids in a big city. The home environment will be massively different. Chances are, your big city lifestyle will revolve around an apartment or a condo, and many of them don’t have a great deal of outdoor space. The city will become your playground, and you’ll have to have enough time and resources to take advantage. You won’t be able to just let your kids play in the yard. But you’ll also often be much more closely connected to your neighbors. Since everyone lives in tighter proximity, there’s much more interaction, and neighbors look out for one another. You won’t have that same connection in the suburbs, where people stick to themselves. But you’ll also probably have a much smaller living environment. That could be very stressful in the big city.

Choice of schools is also much different in the city. Most public schools are massively overcrowded, and some are even unsafe. If you want to make sure your children are getting the best education, you may end up having to pay for private schools. Of course, many big city schools get a lot of government funding, and are actually better than comparable public schools in suburban or rural areas. You’ll also often have the opportunity to walk your kids to school, a unique experience that most children don’t get. Just make sure you check out the neighborhood in advance, to see if private school is needed. If it is, that could be financially very difficult.

The great thing about growing up in the big city is that there are tons of learning opportunities outside of the classroom. In the city, your child will have easy access to world class museums, music and performances. Many renowned thinkers visit libraries and bookstores in the cities, giving kids the opportunity to meet and listen to people they never would otherwise. And the variety of people in a major city is also enriching for a child. They’ll experience individuals and cultures from around the world, all within a short walk or subway ride. This leads to children growing up with a much broader appreciation of art, culture and humanity than they would otherwise. Of course, the flip side is that the city can be a very dangerous place.

Your kids will more often experience crime, and the need to keep an eye on them is even greater in the urban environment. If you’re smart and careful you can minimize these dangers, but you’ll probably always think of them.
Finally, your kids will get a chance to mingle with a wide range of other children, and make contacts that can seriously benefit them later in life. If you live in one of those incredible UWS apartments, their friends may be the children of politicians, famous actors or leaders of industry. The connections they make in childhood could lead to recommendations and jobs when they’re older, a distinct advantage to growing up in an anonymous suburb.

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