It’s the question countless city families have asked for decades: Should we stay or should we go?
If the answer starts to veer towards “go,” the next question is almost always the big one:
This can be an especially big hurdle for families leaving New York City. With over 500 commutable towns navigating the suburban landscape can be tricky—overwhelming, even. Doing your research and having a great advisor is key.
One such firm specializing in urban-to-suburban family transitions is Suburban Jungle Realty Group. Launched in 2008 by founder and mom of 4 Ali Bernstein, the unique firm is designed exclusively for those transitioning from cities. Relying on a “lifestyle first” approach, Suburban Jungle has helped thousands of NYC families find the perfect place to call “home.”
Their comprehensive approach starts with a thorough assessment of families’ needs, preferences, and day-to-day lives. From there, a personal strategist, not a real estate agent, helps families explore and evaluate towns to ensure a solid fit and smooth shift to suburban life. It’s a distinct approach and one that’s generated significant buzz in NYC and beyond. In the last few months alone, the Suburban Jungle team opened offices in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami.
So where should YOU begin if you’re considering making the move? We caught up with Ali to get her insight on the most important questions city families should be asking themselves if they’re considering relocating to the suburbs. Here are her 6 questions to ask yourself before moving to the suburbs:
1. How do I start—and where should I go?
This is your time to weigh everything. Big town or small? Something walkable? Or by the beach? Active sports scene? Tons of wilderness or outdoor activities? Well known or off the beaten path? What did you love, or not love, about where you grew up? What do your weekends look like? Think through what you’ve always envisioned for you and your family. Granted, this might change once you dive into the next few questions, but it’s a good place to start.
2. Should I even leave the city?
This is a HUGE question and one we all families to ask themselves. Why? Because not all families should leave NYC! The answer isn’t always to pack up and head for bigger, greener, more suburban pastures. Everything is a tradeoff and it’s important to understand whether or not those tradeoffs make sense for your family right now.
3. When is the ideal time to move?
Just like no two families are the same, there’s no set “right” time to make a move to the ‘burbs. That said, we often find the preschool years are popular with Suburban Jungle clients and, overwhelmingly, seems to be a good timeframe to consider. Families are out of the baby stage by then and won’t rely so heavily on instant access to everything. That Duane Reade on the corner, for example, or the grocery store that delivers, or on being in such close proximity to things to do and moms to hang out with.
During the preschool years, great bonds are made. Many children will move onto kindergarten and beyond together. Every birthday party, gymnastics class, and soccer game is an opportunity for you to meet other parents, many of whom you’ll be surrounded by for the next 15+ years.
4. Then there’s school…
While no one starts out by saying, “I want a terrible school…” everyone’s definition of a “good” school district is drastically different. Think about how you grew up, where you went to school and what you liked or didn’t like, and think about what you’d want to replicate (or shy away from) in those experiences. You might love the idea of your child attending a big high school in a huge building with loads of classes, activities, and programs. Alternatively, small schools may feel more personalized and comfortable to you. And, of course, there’s the private/public question. Will you be sending your children to public school in the town you find up in or will they attend a private, religious or specialized school? That can definitely influence your search as well!
5. Think about your childcare…
Again, it’s important to think about your own family and what your childcare situation looks like in the immediate future. Will mom or dad stay home? Are you hiring a nanny or au pair? Or maybe considering daycare? Often towns have a pervasive personality when it comes to childcare and it’s important for families to sync up. It’s tough to be the only working mom in a heavily stay-at-home community (or vice versa!) or find out post-move that your kids are missing out on after school activities because they’re in daycare and everyone else is home with nannies.
6. What about the commute?
Don’t dismiss towns simply because they don’t have a train station. There are likely plenty of convenient commuting options that can get you to the city fast. Likewise, don’t assume that the towns with sub-29 minute commutes are the perfect fits for your family. Look at options based on your needs and preferences and specifically at parking at certain train stations and whether you can even get parking at that coveted station!
Feeling lost? Firms like Suburban Jungle Realty can help. Get a jump on your conversation by filling out a quick online questionnaire. From there a local strategist will be in touch to dig into your personality, preferences, lifestyle, and what makes your family tick, at no cost of course.
The rest is pure urban-to-suburban magic!
This post is sponsored by Suburban Realty Jungle.