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Finding Our Groove in the ‘Burbs

This is the 12th post in The Blog Backstage series about the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How behind Honestly Modern. Periodically, I share a peek behind the scenes about how and why all the magic happens to bring Honestly Modern to life.

In response to a few readers who have asked for a little behind-the-scenes peak into why we left Chicago and chose a new and different lifestyle for our family, here’s the second of a two-part post (you can read part one here) on why we left, what we miss about Chicago and what we love about our new stomping grounds outside of Philadelphia.

As much as we loved so many things about our seven years in Chicago, we knew it was time for a change. We wanted warmer weather and to be closer to family. We wanted great public schools (without needing to win a spot in a lottery). We wanted well-equipped sports programs in which our boys could participate.

Also, we were ready to slow down life a little bit. The parallel angst and excitement of the city was wearing on us.

From our downtown apartment where we drove once or twice a month, we moved to the outer suburbs of Philadelphia, making our cars necessities. Living among windy, wooded and narrow roads where “white picket fence suburbia” meets “rural, horse farm Pennsylvania”, we now rely on our cars heavily. I don’t love this (though it’s nice when it’s cold or rainy.), but it’s been well worth the benefits for which we’ve traded in our walking commutes and daily stroller adventures.

In Chicago, the city park was great but required a 15 minute walk each way. With a large yard, the boys now spend so much time playing outside in our own yard and driveway. I can make dinner or send a few work emails while I watch the boys through the window as they play their little hearts out.

T and J love sports more than just about any child I’ve ever seen (especially T), and I grew up an athlete around lots of sports-oriented families. Urban living required long walks to busy fields and courts, often filled with people lined up and waiting their turn for some time to play. In our new area, open fields and courts abound.

We have a fantastic local youth sports club that offers intramural and competitive leagues for a wide range of sports. T just finished his first soccer season and, despite my nervous hesitations, it ended up being a really great experience. T loved every minute of it.

Parents of school friends and sports teammates have all been so nice. Activities, stores, restaurants and community events are all designed to be kid- and family-friendly. We live near M’s family, who has been able to help us with the boys in a pinch and also take the boys for a couple days while M and I took a mini vacation or went out to dinner for the evening. We are still getting settled into our new community, but all these things make life so much easier.

Living where we do now brought with it many of the benefits we anticipated: lower cost of living with much more space, a more family-friendly lifestyle, great public schools, better weather, and so much more.

We replaced our concrete jungle with lush trees adorned with beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring and plenty of green leaves all summer. We hear birds chirping from our bedroom, something we haven’t heard in years.

Chicago has so much to offer, but we came to see it wasn’t right for our family at this time in our lives. As much as we can “plan” for a decade or two from now, M and I love city life and anticipate we will return to living in the city someday (some city, who knows which one it will be), maybe after our boys have graduate from high school. Who knows???

For now, we’re settled in suburbia, and coming to love where we live even more each day.

If you’re interested, you might also like this post on 12 Ideas to Learn About and Love Where You Live.

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