Moving out of the City: Something Gained, Something Lost.

In the Mad Men era, there was little question that dad would be commuting to work.

Maybe it’s because this is the first year where all of our kids are away at college, or maybe it’s a symptom of me always thinking about the What Else; in any case, I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting.

Recently I was mulling over the phenomenon of people who live and work in a city, but move their family to a suburb when they have kids, so that the kids can grow up in a more rural, “safer” area, with supposedly better schools.

The equation goes something like this:

Better schools + Safer, more calm environment = Better way of growing up for the kids

But I think many of the families that subscribe to this equation ignore a key factor.

Usually, when a family moves out of the city, at least one of the parents keeps working in the city (if not both). So they spend at least a couple of hours every day - and often more - traveling to and from the city for work.

This means that while the kids are attending a better school, and have a yard to play in, they’re probably spending less quality time with their parents. Because no matter what the logistics are, when you work in a different city than where you live, you’re necessarily away from home more.

And as I’ve written before, that’s time you’ll never have back.

So a more realistic equation might be:

Better schools + Safer, more calm environment – Time with parent = Better way of growing up for the kids?

I don’t know the answer to this.

Can a good school be worth a kid seeing his dad or mom less?

Any time we make a decision, there’s a value proposition and an opportunity cost in it. Which is another way of saying there’s always something gained, and something lost.

You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.

Do people weigh all the factors enough when they move their families?


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