How Do You Decide Where to Raise Your Family?

mother and daughterA friend of mine was recently laid off from his job in Southern California. With three kids, no mortgage and a stay-at-home wife, now was the perfect time to re-evaluate their place of residence.

Should they move to another state? And if yes, where is the best place to raise a family? The children are all relatively young, so they could very easily adapt to a new environment. And with family spread out around the country, there was nothing holding them back from relocating to a different region.

While I’m sure they are a little terrified about the future and finding employment, they also find themselves in this unique situation to make a major life change, and I know they are wrestling with the opportunity very carefully.

I’ve lived in Southern California my entire life, with the exception of a summer spent in New York City for an internship after college. I suppose I could have stayed on the East Coast, but the weather and my family beckoned me home. I now have a solid career, as does my husband, a nice home with a hefty mortgage, and three children – two of whom have started school and have formed tight friendships in our community.

We love our neighborhood. We live on a kid-dominated street where the boys and girls scooter and skate and play sports on the front lawns. My own parents live a mile from us, and my in-laws live about 10 miles away. Thus, the grandparents are a huge help with watching and shuttling our kids around. And it’s not uncommon for my boys to have a cheering section with extended family at their various sporting events.

The downside of So. Cal living? Taxes are insane. We just filed and it was heartbreaking to see A LOT of our hard-earned income go to the state and federal governments. My commute is a beast. Oh, and our mortgage is big. I know if we wanted a comparable-sized home in another state, we’d likely pay half as much.

Countryside Vs City Life for Children

Kids Running

For kids, the world is a huge adventure park that they are eager to explore. In the countryside, as well as urban areas, you will find a variety of things to explore in both. The country lifestyle in particular is a symbol for a strong relationship with the natural world. In this environment, children get the chance to come in close contact with animals, and discover beautiful meadows, plants, and trees to climb on numerous excursions. When you are in the country, the thrills can be enjoyed above all and sometimes the large expanses of fields and open space give the feeling of being free.

In cities, discovery tours are available, particularly to the parks and playgrounds. Children can develop their motor skills as well as discover an element of nature within the otherwise urban environment. Additionally to this, the city is home to a wide range of recreational activities. It has climbing areas, bouncey castles, playgrounds, trampoline, parks and so on. The city is particularly notable because of its numerous activities, giving youngsters the opportunity to test their skills at various activities. In this regard, extras like play mats must be utilized in apartments to play to avoid disturbing the neighbors.

Peers

As the children grow older, the more they step out of their parents’ shadows and the more important peer friends become. Children thus learn to engage with others, form alliances, stand their ground – and develop empathy for the needs of others. Although there may be greater cohesion in rural communities due to the established neighborhoods and often bustling associations, the childcare rate is higher in cities, partly because the range of childcare options is better.

The narrower space and population density in cities ensure dense contact opportunities, in the settlement, the playgrounds, on the sidewalks and courtyards. Distances are shorter in cities – parents of teenagers in rural areas in particular are likely to lament having to drive their children everywhere because public transportation is so poor.

Diversity

In towns there are typically more elderly individuals and fewer children as compared to cities, and those who live in towns are usually connected to the same youngsters of the same age. Additionally, in a city, children aren’t used to being in a large group of people. This can be a problem in the future when they must journey to cities.

Confronting cultural friction in the city takes energy, but pays off in a higher tolerance for diversity. One danger in the city is that overcrowding and isolation are close to each other. Those who perceive social groups only from the outside but do not actively participate in them can develop depression. Here, parents must be sensitive to whether the chosen neighborhood may confront the child with high cultural barriers that he or she cannot overcome on his or her own.

Education

school-kids

In cities, there is a greater educational opportunities than towns. Parents can pick which educational center to send their children to and to enroll them in certain classes during the afternoons In towns, there are only a small number of educational centers. Some towns do not have an educational institution and students have to go to nearby towns for compulsory schooling.

Relocation

Relocation is not in our future – at least not anytime soon. But every once in awhile, I daydream about a slower-paced life, a life where our dollar goes further.

I also don’t know if we’d really like living somewhere else. In Southern California, we are certainly spoiled with great weather and lots to do. We’re a short drive from the beach, the mountains and various cultural centers.

I took a quick Facebook and Twitter poll on this topic and my Southern California friends were split. Some want to leave and are sick of our bankrupt state. They cite Colorado and North Carolina and Texas as potential relocation states. A few others said they’ve lived in other states, and are willing to pay the premium to live in California.

A family that recently moved here from Georgia noted that it was tough to make connections here. She said her new neighborhood wasn’t very friendly, and reminisced about he hospitality of the South. I can see her point. While the street we live on now is very friendly, we’ve lived on others where we never even spoke to our neighbors.

Conclusion

Bottom line, I suppose there are many things to consider when deciding on your hometown. For my family, we’ve placed a heavy emphasis on staying close to our parents, finding a location where we can have rewarding careers, and ensuring our kids feed into good schools that are safe and generally attended by other families who place a value on education too. In all those areas, I’d rank our quality of life as high. There is always room for improvement, but that’s where we stand today.

I actually think my mom said it best. She replied, “In a home with a loving mom and dad who share parenting responsibilities, work hard and teach them strong moral values … where ever that home might be.”

How did you decide where to raise your family? Do you dream about moving somewhere new, or are you content in your present community?