Survival of the Fittest: Suburbutopia [Guest Post from my Awesome Sister-in-Law]

So, I’m not the only amateur blogger in the family. My brother and sister write a little blog of their own. Well, my sister in law really does, because like me, she is a work widow. We slave away all day with the chilruns and live to tell our tales. And she is funny. Like, funnier than I am. And I don’t say that lightly. I take pride in being the court jester of my family. (“Dance, Monkey! Dance!)

Now my brother and sister in law just moved to the burbs. Well, they are in the process, anyway. They bought a house. Then they gutted it. And now it is completely under construction. While doing this, they realized that commuting to the city for preschool wouldn’t work out quite as they hoped, so that was another wrench in their suburbutopia plan. Basically, like any move, they are hitting some speed bumps. And my sister in law is living to tell about it. And guys? She nailed it.

How to survive the burbs if you used to live in “the city”

1. Don’t eat out. Your restaurant days are over, unless you go into “the city” for a special occasion. Everything else will be an expensive and depressing endeavor. Instead, go to the grocery store and allow yourself to get giddy over the cheap prices (organic milk for under $7!). And forget about farmer’s markets because suburban ones are sad sad sad.

 2. Resign yourself to your vehicle. Yes, you may have imagined yourself biking everywhere because the streets are so much less crowded and the ride to the grocery store (the only place you now go) would be so pleasant. You may have even purchased a bike trailer for the kids to make preschool drop off more fun. It will stand unattached from bike that is buried deep somewhere in the garage. However, the car will be right there, in front of your door. As you will be usually in a hurry, despite the theoretical “slow down” of suburban life, you will only use the car.

3. Good-bye Equinox. Hello YMCA.

 4. Dress in work out clothes. Because you never know when the urge to drive over to the Y (which may actually be within walking or biking distance) will come upon you. Also, this gives the impression to the other mothers at preschool or the grocery store (the only place you now go) that you are about to work out or, even better, have just worked out (and still look so attractive!). This helps to negate some of the seemingly lazy car driving.

 5. Tory Burch. If you decide to dress in something other than work out clothes for some reason, go with Tory. No need to be creative. But if you can make it into “the city” flagship store on Madison Avenue, items unavailable at the local mall distributer will be spotted and commented on immediately. Worth the drive to “the city.”

 6. Commuting. Realize you will never, ever see your husband. While it may have seemed that your husband worked annoyingly long hours when you were living in “the city,” his commute will now be brutal. He will leave early in the AM to beat the traffic and come in late for the same reason. You, however, will probably cut down on your commute now that you no long need to work to support the expensive “city” life style. Just the grocery store.

 7. Make playdates. You and your kids will never, ever, ever, see another child on a playground, on the street, on their bike, on a scooter, at ice cream, etc. unless intentionally premeditated and coordinated by parental figures. While in “the city,” sidewalks are packed with strollers and playgrounds full of frolicking children, this is not how it works in the burbs. Playdates are the only way to ensure your kids do not become antisocial misfits AKA total losers. This may put some strain on you to make friends and remember names of preschool parents who do not seem at all interested in returning the attention, but it must be done. It might help to wear work out clothes and try to get invited to the mommy triatholon training groups.

 8. House Ownership. It’s likely you rented in “the city” with the cost of housing and all. Even if your apartment was fancy by “city” standards, it was probably disgusting to the majority of the developed world. Once you purchase your new home, you may find that whatever shape it’s in, it seems fine to you. And huge. And you will be confused as to why people keep calling it a “small house” that “needs work.” You will soon adjust to the new standard of living and decide to get a construction loan. Because a few thousand (or hundred thousand) here and there, really, what does it matter when you know you’re making an INVESTMENT.

9. Get past your hang-ups on schools. If you were lucky enough to move into a town with a great school system, you may soon be surprised to find out it’s actually not that good. It’s definitely not good if you compare it to schools in “the city” you’ve been salivating over but that charge 40K+/yr tuition and forced you to leave the city. It will be a little sad when you realize it’s probably not even as good as P.S. Whatever you scoffed at while living in “the city.” It’s OK to grieve a little, but you will soon get used to the idea that while the schools may not be great, no one seems to know this, and you will also forget.

 10. Your minivan may have been cool in “the city” but it’s not in the burbs. While it’s hard to say a minivan can be truly cool anywhere, a brand new, shiny, enormous minivan with its own parking space in a covered garage is a unique and useful enough thing in the city to qualify as cool. As it can seat 8 plus all their strollers, baggage, etc. it’s close enough to a bus to be considered public transportation, which is cool. Anything that facilitates daytrips to “upstate” or the Hamptons or in general implies that you have a weekend home is cool. In the burbs, there is nothing cool about a minivan. Especially one that has bumper dents and scratches from “city” traffic. You will need an SUV soon to match your “working out” look. Work on convincing your husband of this starting day 1 because it will make no financial sense. Look into bundling it into the construction loan. 


I love so many things about this list, but especially the minivan part, only because when we saw them recently, my brother was extolling the virtues of the minivan and how we had to get one. And I was convinced!  But reading this, I am wondering if that conversation wasn’t like those conversations we have had before. You know the ones: “Having kids is awesome!  You should have kids, too!” So, I guess no minivan for me. Although, here? A Volvo SUV would be more cliche. And of course, I want one.

2 thoughts on “Survival of the Fittest: Suburbutopia [Guest Post from my Awesome Sister-in-Law]

  1. I really do feel like a loser driving a minivan around NJ. Especially since Tim bought a sexy black Audi and basically refuses to transport his person in anything but the new toy. He even got the kids to hate the minivan. They talk about the “Adi” (Jacob’s pronounciation) and Tim’s work all day.

  2. This whole post kind of blows my mind, I thought this kind of stuff only existed in novels. Consider me schooled (and a hardcore upstate New Yorker for life…like 6 hours away from the city upstate) 🙂

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