The American dream has long been painted as being married with 2 children, living in the suburbs with a white picket fence. The ideal lifestyle for a 20 something with a thriving social life has been seen as living in the┬ábustling city streets of a downtown metro area, with close access to restaurants and museums. Although these may be society’s norms, everyone has different preferences. Would you fault a mom for wanting to raise her child downtown instead of Pleasantville, USA? Where is the best place to raise a child: the city or the suburbs? It depends on who you ask and it depends on your priorities.

Financially, the two contrasts provide you different perks for your money. You have many different lifestyles to choose from when it comes to raising your child in one environment versus the other. Personally, I grew up in a suburban neighborhood 20 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles. I had several jobs and internships in the city, and I admit it was completely different from my home life. Even my friends who lived in that area expressed growing up differently than I did. Is one truly better than the other?

Let’s look at the different things your child could be exposed to if you choose one over the other:

  • Living Space: What you can get for $1,500/month in the suburbs you can’t get in the city. $1,500/month in my hometown could get you a 4 bedroom, 2 bedroom, 1,600 square foot house with a 5,700 square foot lot. This includes a garage for your cars and a nice size backyard for your pets and/or children. $1,500/month downtown gets you a studio apartment with 1 bathroom, not even 500 square feet, with a parking garage (or street parking) and no yard (but maybe a balcony). You may even have to pay extra for your four legged friends. This can be really cramped living for a growing family.
  • Amenities: When you live in the suburbs, more than likely you’ll have a mortgage as opposed to renting, although this isn’t always true. Your amenities will only go as far as you pay for. You’ll have to do your own laundry, pay for your own pool, and find a park with a local tennis court. In the city, many apartment complexes have deluxe amenities like 24 hour security, someone to pick up your dry cleaning, and a complimentary business center. Amenities are bonuses, however, and none of those mentioned (with the exception of laundry) is absolutely conducive to your child growing up properly.
  • Schools: There has been a negative connotation when it comes to innercity schools. Many of them, as of late, have been taken over as charters and reforming their educational progress. You’d have to certainly do your research to find a good school for your child if you live in the city. I know in LA, schools like Locke High School and Jefferson High School are infamous for their low performance on standardized tests and high amount of violence. Suburban schools usually have better resources, more parental involvement, and a safer environment. This isn’t always true, but it’s the norm.
  • Transportation: Urban areas are where a lot of the big, corporate jobs are. When I worked downtown, traffic would be horrendous because everyone had to be in the same place at the same time. You pretty much needed your own vehicle if you wanted to be somewhere without getting up 2 hours early if you live in the suburbs. So if you live in the city, your commute can be cut short with a short walk, a brisk bike ride, or even a bus ride. Are you comfortable with your child taking public transportation? Are you okay with the possible commute to your job and back?
People may say that you should move to an area where your child has a yard, their own room, and the best schools with an active PTA. However, it’s up to you where you believe your child will best thrive. Urban areas are close to places like museums and other places that offer cultural exposure. Would you rather spend your money on space and housework or a lively atmosphere with many conveniences?