I live in Hoboken, NJ, an amazing town just across the Hudson River from New York City. I admit, I moved here in August 2007 from my NYC apartment somewhat kicking and screaming,but knowing it was the only way to be with my then-boyfriend (who knew he had to propose by the end of that year. He did on December 22. Typical.). It took a while to adjust, especially since my commute tripled in length, but eventually I fell in love with the views, the restaurants, the space and the community.
We bought our current condo in 2009 and the new, uptown location had me fall deeper in love with Hoboken. Trees! Even more space! Brand new restaurants! A ferry commute (best. thing. ever.)! I was smitten. But - no one in our building would really talk to us. We didn't have either of the things that made us fit in - a dog or a baby. Luckily many friends lived in town who knew we were worthy of spending time with, and within a year we were pregnant with our first child.
After having Rebecca, and now again with Lila, I have realized how incredible this town is for raising children. Aside from the fact that you can't walk one block or enter any establishment without tripping over a child's stroller, scooter or a toy that they have flung to the floor, there are tons of options of activities to do with kids (art classes! tons of playgrounds to choose from! baby yoga! indoor playspaces! toddler music classes! baby gymnastics! infant massage! how to make baby food! prenatal meet-ups so they have friends while still in the womb!) and it is virtually impossible not to meet other moms, a staple in maintaining sanity after birth.
Hoboken is still somewhat a transient town. Many people leave after having their second (or third) child, fleeing for the greener pastures (read: yards) and larger square footage of the 'burbs. I can't even count the number of friends we've "lost" to the suburbs, the number of times Evan and I have contemplated if we should be staying or going, or the conversations that I have - even in passing on the street - with other moms who simply ask, "are you staying?" It is the single-most popular topic as kids get older and people in our same situation consider where to raise their children. Where are the best schools? Commutes? House prices? Sigh.
We love Hoboken. We love our apartment, as cluttered as it may be. (I venture to guess that if we had more square footage, I'd just fill all of THAT with crap too!) We love being able to walk to 50 different stores, restaurants, playgrounds and more within five minutes (okay, ten at preschool pace). We can't imagine having to load kids into the car every time we need something from CVS or the grocery store, though of course we both grew up doing so and know that it's doable.
So for us, right now, the benefits of this town and community outweigh what the 'burbs have to offer. Don't be fooled - I scroll through real estate listings every night, fantasizing about what we could afford, what we could do with all that space, and how much we could sell our apartment for (right now? A KILLING. Way to make this debate even harder, Hoboken...).
Then I put down my iPad, grab my girls and some combination of our strollers / infant carriers / ride-on board / scooters, and walk out of our building. We run into friends right outside, and Rebecca frolics on the hill in front of our building with kids she's known since she was born (others who are staying... some for now, some for good, some for another two weeks). We stroll together to the playground where we run into more friends,and then stop for an impromptu lunch or dinner outside a restaurant where they've known us for years. We visit the ice cream place and walk back up the waterfront, gazing at NYC and knowing that this is the best place for us... for now. Right? Right. I think.