A City Girl’s Guide to Loving Suburbia: Chapter 1: Movin’ on Up!

 

Photoe: Huffington Post

So here you are… in a house, in the suburbs. Youre still not quite sure how it happened, but somehow, whether it was your job, your partner, or your kids, you were torn from the grip you had on your doorman’s ankles, and now you’re living with more bedrooms than people, more toilets than tushes, and a yard that mocks you and your dead house plants. You know this house was the stuff of someones dreams, it just wasnt necessarily yours. Perhaps its the #metoo movement or some other feminist twist, but for me and many of my female clients and friends, the dream of a white picket fence was not our dream. We didnt want to give up the bustle and vibe of the city, even when sharing a studio with our partner or a one-bedroom with our two kids. In this column, Ill share this city-girls journey toward loving suburbia. Its not a where-to, more of a how-to… a mind and habit-bend that I hope can help others love it, too!  

Whether youve moved here with kids or without, the first thing you might feel in these suburbs is a whole heap of loneliness. The friends youve cultivated for years have been left behind, or perhaps some made the journey before you to a different town. Most likely, your city friends were spin-offs from college or graduate school, people you met thru work or neighbors in your building. So where do you find your new besties now that youre no longer in school, perhaps commuting to work and your neighbors are strangers? 

Littles are a great gateway to social activities and structure. Once I had my first, I signed up for every library, gymnastics and music class in a three-town radius. This was a great way to meet and, very often, after the class a group would head for lunch at a nearby stroller-friendly place or one of us would host a lunch playgroup. Go to every school meeting you can and sign up for parent committees – even if youre working, there are opportunities to help out that become opportunities to make new friends. I know not everyone relishes the idea of walking in cold to a group of new faces. It takes a little time and patience. The key is to tamp down the feeling that your soul is withering and slap a mild smile on your face. When others ask how you like the new town you should reply: ‘Pretty good. It’s just a big transition.’ Some will nod knowingly. These are very likely your peeps. 

No kids? No problem! Find a book group – my favorites were really short discussions of the book mixed with lots of wine and snacks in someones cozy home. Join a tennis league or yoga class – embrace the easy access to sports in the burbs! There are fabulous meet-ups for hikes in local parks, kayaking, wine-tasting, you name it. You wont meet your new friends sitting in your new house so get out there and soon youll find that there is life and friendship outside the city. Youre not alone out here – youll find your kindred souls, just like I did!  

Leave your comments below. Id love to hear how you went about making new friends and otherwise settling in. Or share the struggles that youve had adjusting knowing youre not alone!  

Hillary is a city girl-turned-suburban mama and a social worker-turned-realtor who focuses on the transition over the transaction. As a top-producer with Hillary’s Homes at Houlihan Lawrence, she has clearly embraced life in the suburbs! Check Hillary out on Facebook too!

19 Comments

  1. Hillary nailed my emotions about moving to the burbs from the city, it was very lonely at first (and still is at times, especially in the winter), but once you start to find friends, it gets much better! Great article, Hillary!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Garin! It can surely be tough going and always easier when people can find a way to move in the spring/summer instead of during the dreary winter months when everyone is hibernating. Hang in there – Spring is on its way!

  2. Best sentence I’ve read all week:
    “The key is to tamp down the feeling that your soul is withering and slap a mild smile on your face.“
    Funny, honest, and so spot on, Hillary. I need this! Looking forward to the next chapters!

    1. Thanks for the feedback – a wise friend reminded me how hard it can be to make it look easy breezy when you’re just not feeling it. But fake it til you make it!! And trust me, you’ll make it! xx

  3. Wonderful article Hillary and great topics to explore more. No wonder you’re great at what you do. Even after 30 years in the burbs I have “miss my NYC” days! Thank you for this

  4. Hillary was my first new friend in the suburbs! Might have fled back to Brooklyn if I hadn’t met her 🙂

  5. A great article Hillary… I see every day young moms and dads “discovering” our studio “ just like in Brooklyn”. And as you said depends on a personality, some are very lonely, overwhelmed by the … lack of community. You gave a great tips for creating community for yourself, that’s how it is being done here. With the social media it is much easier than before. Even my studio is very often a meetup place for young moms( with these trendy- hip city babies s d toddlers which we just adore!).

    1. Oh, yes! Whether it’s a kids’ class or a GNO painting event, A Maze In Pottery is a great meet up spot! Thanks for your comments and suggestion . . . I’ve enjoyed many a time at your studio -thanks for always helping me find my artistic side, as slim as it is!! xx

  6. Such a great article! I agree that you kind of have to put yourself out there and it takes time, but if part of what attracted you to the town is the community there, you will make new friends! I made a lot of friends by going to activities with my kids, but feel like there’s more of a chance to form connections when I do things without my kids!! Joining local organizations and volunteering my time with other like-minded people has been a big way for me to meet people. Plus having friends who are connectors in the area who like to bring new people together 😉

    1. I’m thrilled that you drank the Kool-Aide, Naomi, by jumping in not just with your kids but also by getting involved with some amazing local organizations! It’s people like you that help create our wonderful communities! xx 😃

  7. Hello! I was happy to come across your article. I fall into the camp of no kids.I moved up here a year ago and have been trying to find a social life outside of work or home. I have looked at events in the area and libraries to try and find meet ups or a book group. Could you expand on where one can find the ones like you describe in your article? They sound more like the ones I would enjoy and I just haven’t come across yet. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Nicole! I totally get it … I moved up to Westchester before I had kids, so boy do I feel your pain! There’s a terrific group called Meet Up – https://www.meetup.com/topics/westchester/ – where you can surely find something fun to do. Also, as Naomi mentioned, volunteering locally for a cause or group that’s meaningful to you can connect you to some like-minded people. Zwilling in Pleasantville – https://www.zwillingcookingstudio.com/classes – and Sur La Table in the Westchester Mall – https://www.surlatable.com/sku/4081394/Sur+La+Table+Test+Kitchen – have fun cooking classes! Have fun trying new things. I’d love to hear back! xx

      1. Hillary – Thank you for your thoughtful reply! I will absolutely go and explore the Meet Up – Westchester. Great recommendation. I have taken cooking classed at Sur La Table but not Zwilling, I will definitely look into that.As for volunteering – I work for Volunteer New York!, so I am already all about volunteering 🙂 Our website is – http://www.volunteernewyork.org which has hundreds of volunteer opportunities and organizations that anyone could can connect with should they want to find such opportunities. I appreciate your blog and look forward to reading more form you!

  8. Great advice that I wish I had when I moved from the city to the burbs 19 years ago. As scary as it seems, the suburbs are a great place to raise a family and there are plenty of like minded people. We have no regrets! The kids turned out pretty good too 🙂

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