One year ago this week, I moved my family to the burbs. We live almost an hour away from our old home, in a house on a hill, and the hill is full of boxes of ticky tacky. When we made the decision and actually purchased a house, I sobbed for weeks.
I think I’ve mentioned that I grew up a stone’s throw away from a pretty shady area of town, but as an adult, my husband and I were able to move west, to the affluent part of town, just minutes from the downtown core. I’m as urban as they come. I don’t hike. I like to walk in the city. I never learned how to swim or ride a bike (my parents weren’t outdoorsy either). I hate driving and avoid it when I can, so I love taking the train or walking to everything.
I loved my home in the city. I loved being able to walk to a dozen different shops for groceries, coffee, gifts, a movie theater, and anything I couldn’t walk to was just minutes away by car. My husband walked to work. I took the train and the station was within walking distance. We only had one car that we barely used. My kids went to a fabulous school close to a local beach. And being sick, I have a plethora of healthcare providers, which were all nearby. My parents lived nearby and helped with the kids. Life was beautiful.
So why on Earth would I move? One word : Space.
We lived in Vancouver, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. So while we lived in an absolutely beautiful home that was brand new when we moved in, with a third child, it quickly became too small. It was three bedrooms and 1400 square feet. It was actually a great size for the area, but I could see the future looming, with boys who were soon to be adolescents, and a girl who would need her own space.How would the kids bring friends over if we could barely fit ourselves in that space?
So the heartbreaking decision was made. We must move. But moving to a larger place in the same area wasn’t an option. We’re healthcare workers, and very squarely middle class. Our home, although tiny, was valued at close to 1.5 million dollars. A larger home would have been well over 2 million and probably closer to 3 million. There is no way for any normal person to afford a one to two million dollar jump in mortgage payments. So we did the only thing we could, other than win the lottery… We moved to the suburbs.
Our new house is beautiful. It’s over double the size of our old home, with bedrooms for all of the kids and my husband’s dream man cave. But it’s in the suburbs. The only places that are in walking distance are playgrounds. There is not even a coffee shop to walk to. We now need two cars instead of one and have to wake up hours earlier to make it to work on time. I knew when we moved that I probably wouldn’t be happy, and in all honesty I’m not. At least not yet. I miss my old neighbourhood. I feel really isolated. I have no friends coming to visit. My parents ask me why I would move so far away from everything I love.
Why would I do this to myself? The reason is because it’s not about me. I had to sacrifice my way of life to give my kids the home they deserved. They should have a youth in an idyllic setting, with a nice house and a yard full of pumpkins. They should be able to ride their bikes around the neighbourhood without worrying about cars speeding about. They should be able to play video games in the basement with a group of their friends after school. Whether or not it was the right choice for them remains to be seen. Until then, you can see me at the one of many playgrounds within walking distance from my house.