Yes we live in a big city, Toronto to be most specific – just in case you are new around here. King and Harlow are born and raised big city kiddos, they know no different and I actually don’t really have a big grasp on raising them in less populous setting. We walk every where we can and if that’s not possible (in the winter the walking usually gets side barred a bit) we take the transit, cabs are pretty rare and we use Zipcar when we need a vehicle to get around. I love our sweet little life so very much, and even though we live in a big busy city, our life and routine could not get any simpler (unless we moved to a farm, I guess).
People often ask how we raise kids in a big city, what life is like not having a private back yard, or how we live without owning a car, really a giant wide range of urban kid raising questions. I know there are tons of reasons to live in a quieter, maybe more classically family friendly setting (I think you smell what I’m cooking when I say that) and really even from here the grass sometimes looks greener where that is. But we really do love living in a big urban setting, and as green as the grass looks when we look at the suburbs there would just be so much that we would all miss about living in the city (not to mention our lives are here, but other than that). Of course we have talked about moving many times (back closer to family) and we often go as far as listing off the things we would take with us if (if not when, sorry fam-jam) we were to ever leave. Not physical things (well those too), but mostly the lifestyle things that we have grown accustomed too and learned to really love about our urban lifestyle. So instead of answering all the “how is raising kids in a big city” questions, I thought I would list all the things we would take with us (if we were to ever leave) which happen to be some of the huge positives for living in a city. Which can also be things that anyone living anywhere can adopt.
PARK AND WALK – I know, most places aren’t as walkable or accessible by transit. I grew up in a smaller city where driving a car was pretty much mandatory, so I totally get it. But why not, drive to a location where you can get a lot of shopping done in a few block radius, instead of jumping back in your car to hit the next store, walk there. How do you carry everything? Well you could make trips back to the car to drop things off or pull a granny cart/shopping trolley (like me!) – come on you know you want too!! It probably sounds like a hassle, but really it’s not I love walking from place to place doing my errands – also if I can’t carry it, I can’t buy it usually works out to be a good thing.
TURN THE CITY INTO YOUR BACKYARD – It’s silly and a little bit backwards, but as much as having a private backyard space would be great I am sometimes pretty grateful that we don’t had one. Sure it makes every outside play time a real event, but it has transformed the way we see the idea of a backyard. Basically it has turned the entire city into our backyard. When kids want to go out and play (every waking moment), we GO OUT and play – in the summer we are rarely ever home. We park hop in the summer, we jump around to different neighborhood festivals, or just go exploring.
SHOP SMALL – Big cities usually mean smaller boutique like, local mom and pop type places to eat and shop at. It’s a bit harder and more expensive for the larger franchises to pop in, mostly because space is limited. So this whole supporting and shopping local thing is easy in an urban setting, and something we wouldn’t change. It might take a bit more searching and walking but try to stick to the little guys, grab a coffee and go for a walk. Maybe choose a different part of the city each weekend, it’s amazing the cute little places you can find if you are looking (also a great way to explore).
EXPLORE – One of our all time favorite things to do. In the summer especially, we often have no plans so we just head out and see where the day takes us. Usually we walk into something, a festival or event of some kind or one of us comes up with a plan along the way. It’s fun and rarely ever boring. I know it sounds a lot harder to do if you aren’t in a big city, but maybe there is a part of town you haven’t been to in ages? Take a drive there and park and walk – I bet you find some cool new shops, restaurants or something a little bit different.
In my humble opinion there are huge pluses for living and raising a family in a big city (the only HUGE minus is not having all the people we love here with us). I could list off all the positives (from my eyes), but sometimes lists like that tend to sound a big snobby and sometimes even entitled (any one-sided lists can come off like that) so I’m not really going to go there. Plus I also see many positives to not living in a big city, all I have to do is look back at my childhood to see them.
Really there is no BEST place to raise a family, the best place to raise a family is the best place for YOUR family.
If you like the idea of big city living but like how green your grass currently is, try including some of these “lifestyle things” into your everyday – but maybe wait till the spring to try them out.
What do you guys think? Do you have anything you think, us big city people should learn from smaller city/town living? Is there something else you would add to this little, “big city living for all” list?
*photos mostly from the past summer, where the grass is ALWAYS greener.