The Chicago Tribune reports on city dwellers who have kids and decide that they can’t make it work and have to move to the suburbs.
Some of the transplants have an identity crisis.
“I see this all the time with my practice,” said David Klow, owner of Skylight Counseling Center, which has offices in Chicago and Skokie. “Where we live gives us a sense of identity.”
Swapping city life for the suburbs is different from moving to another town or neighborhood. Real estate agents say city-to-suburbs folks often need special hand-holding.
“They wake up in the suburbs, and there’s no brunch,” said Karen Gilbert, a broker agent with Dream Town Realty. “There is a different kind of lifestyle.”
With apartment life, she said, “They’re used to having a corner coffee shop and a corner bar. They’re used to pushing their stroller to the store.”
Longtime city dwellers are attached to a lifestyle they’ve intentionally cultivated. Many try to make it work — creating room for a crib in the toddler’s room, gamely carrying a stroller up stairs.
“It’s a long part of their life,” Gilbert said. “They try to do anything they possibly can to stay downtown.”
Moving to the suburbs after a decade, or more, living in the GreenZone of Chicago can apparently be traumatic for some.
For starters, he said, many worry that their social lives will change. They fear missing out on art, culture and restaurants — even, he suggests, a connection to their younger selves.
“What happens when they move to the suburbs, will that be threatened?” he said. “Will they still feel connected to things that will enliven them and their relationships?”
Klow counsels families to think through a personal mission statement of what they value in a fulfilling life. Some of those components, for example, might be education, safety, quiet, diversity or opportunity.
Put aside the worries about becoming a suburban stereotype, he said.
“Some of that is unfounded, because you really can create a life you want wherever you are,” he said.
For some, moving to the suburbs might sprout as school decisions loom. Others may consider it while tripping over toys in their two-bedroom condo downtown.
“That’s our sweet spot — people with a 2-year-old,” said Bernstein, whose local ties include attending the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a husband from Skokie.
Many GreenZone residents find they can recreate many amenities of their lives in their current neighborhood in their new suburban towns.
As we’ve chattered about before, if you live in the Southport neighborhood and shop at Athleta and Anthropologie and eat at the Potbelly and Noodles & Company, it’s not like you cannot do the same in downtown Naperville or downtown Evanston.
The Erwin family loved walking to favorite restaurants and boutiques. But having family in the Hinsdale area gave them a nudge to move.
There, they found many similarities: a home a block from a school and a 7-minute walk from the train. Even the Green Goddess boutique, she said, was in both spots.
“It felt a lot like Lincoln Park,” she said. They traded in their membership to the Shedd Aquarium and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for the Brookfield Zoo and Morton Arboretum.
Schools used to be the main reason that city families left for the suburbs. But most of the families highlighted in this article were in what most would consider “good” school districts, i.e. in Lakeview and Lincoln Park.
Recently, traffic and crime concerns, appear to be higher on people’s lists as to why they are willing to leave the city.
Katie Hotze, 36, a Winnetka mom of a 1-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter, said she and her husband were sure they’d buy in the city. Her husband spent his bachelor years in the Gold Coast. Renting in Lakeview, they hoped to buy in Lincoln Park.
“We were shopping in the city, we loved it,” she said. “We would be whisked away in a snowstorm to a fabulous wine bar in River North. It was just amazing. We loved the city for that reason.”
But while they were shopping, a variety of factors — from crime to a 20-minute 2-mile drive to her daughter’s day care — had them second guessing.
“We did a complete 180,” she said, asking the agent to instead target Winnetka, where a friend had invited her to coffee.
Now they delight in the ease of safe, traffic-less streets, abundant parks, a house and a driveway.
“It’s so much easier up here,” she said.
Given future budget cuts and tax increases that Chicago faces, along with the recent surge in property crimes in some neighborhoods like Lakeview, will young families face an easier choice to move to the suburbs?
And are record high housing prices in the GreenZone neighborhoods one of the reasons they are being pushed out to the suburbs?
You can get a 3-bedroom house in Winnetka for less than that 3-bedroom $900,000 duplex down in Lakeview or Lincoln Park, where the bedrooms are all in the basement.
Relax. Take a deep breath. Moving to the suburbs is going to be okay. [Chicago Tribune, Alison Bowen, January 12, 2016]