WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT LIVING IN THE SUBURBS

One takeaway that surprised me from the reader survey I did earlier this year was how many of you were interested in hearing about our move to Greenwich and life in the suburbs, particularly as a twenty-something couple without kids (well, Will just turned 30 and I just turned 29, but we were 27 and 28 when we moved here!). I’ll try to answer the most frequently asked questions here, but feel free to leave any additional questions in the comments section and I’ll respond to you there!

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What made you move to Connecticut?

I grew up in Darien, Connecticut, and had a pretty open mind about where Will and I would settle down. I was never hell-bent on living in a certain town or even a certain state, but we both agreed we’d ultimately want to raise our family somewhere in the suburbs as it’s where we both grew up (me here and Will in the suburbs of Dallas).

After college, I lived in San Francisco for three months (on my own), at home in Darien for a year and a half (while I launched the e-commerce site I ran from 2012 to 2017), New York for two and a half years (when I met Will), and the University Park suburb of Dallas for two years (where we moved in together), before moving to Greenwich about a year and a half ago.

When Will accepted a new job back in New York in late 2016, we briefly looked online at apartments in Manhattan before deciding we didn’t want to give up many of the suburban conveniences we’d come to appreciate while living in Dallas and could recreate several of them if we moved to the Connecticut suburbs where I’d grown up. These were things I didn’t even think about when I was living in studio apartments in New York, but once I’d gotten a car and a walk-in closet, there was no turning back! (Incidentally this is how Will feels about a double vanity in the master bathroom as well; I never knew someone could feel so passionately about a sink, but he’s informed me that it’s “life-changing” not to have to remove my makeup bag from the sink before he shaves, so there’s that.) And it was a huge bonus that my parents still live in Darien and two of my siblings are in New York, so Connecticut also solved the homesickness I’d been experiencing in Dallas.

Moving across the country in 2015 and moving back in 2017 made for a lot of chaos in our lives during that time, but it also gave us a lot of perspective and made us both more confident in making the move to Connecticut. We definitely could have lived in New York for a few more years before moving out to the suburbs, but after so many moves we were anxious to start putting down roots in a place we could see ourselves living long-term.

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What do you like most about living in the suburbs?

Where do I start?! We love living in a house and being able to walk Rory to the park or run around with him in our own yard. Living in Fairfield County isn’t exactly affordable, but we do have more space here than we’d be able to afford in New York. We’re still walking distance from a few coffee shops and restaurants so we don’t feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere, but there’s still a level of peace and quiet that’s impossible to find in a major city. 

We share one car since Will takes the train into the city during the week and I think we both feel like life is just easier here than in the city. When we lived in New York, we used to think we were killing it if we got coffee, walked Rory to the dog park in Madison Square, and ran an errand at Bed Bath & Beyond on 6th Avenue before meeting friends for dinner. Now we feel like we can do all those things in the first two hours of the day; seriously, when we first moved to the Dallas suburbs after living in New York, we would look at each other at 11 a.m. and go, “What do we do with all this extra time?”

I also love living 10-15 minutes from my parents and know we’ll value that proximity even more when Will and I are ready to start our own family. Plus we can still be in midtown Manhattan in 45 minutes, so we get our fix of hustle and bustle and then come home to peace and quiet.

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What made you choose Greenwich over other towns?

Greenwich is the CT suburb closest to the city which means the shortest commute time for Will. It’s also bigger than Darien and has a little more going on in terms of restaurants and nightlife. That said, it’s also more expensive than Darien, New Canaan, etc. and we talk about potentially moving north once we have kids. But for right now, this feels like the right fit for us!

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How did you find a place to live in the suburbs?

Good old Zillow! We knew we wanted to rent as we were still in the process of selling our townhouse in Dallas and we didn’t know (and still don’t) whether we’d ultimately want to be in Greenwich or another town in Fairfield County. So we started looking at rentals online and contacted the realtor for one of the listings we were interested in and she wound up showing us a few places before we signed the lease on the original listing we’d found. When we had to move again last year, we again found a rental listing online but contacted the same realtor as last time to show us the house and draw up the lease. 

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How did you make friends in the suburbs?

I’m lucky to have grown up in the area which has helped immensely with making friends outside the city. One of my best friends from Bucknell grew up in Greenwich and has introduced us to lots of her friends in town and I’ve gotten to know a bunch of Fairfield County bloggers and small business owners thanks to group get-togethers organized by Julia from Lemon Stripes. I’ve also met up with friends of friends who are new to town… It definitely takes time to get to know people in a new place (or a place you haven’t lived in several years), but then all the best things do! I wrote a post on making friends in a new city back in 2016 and still stand by all the tips I shared there. And of course we still have family and friends we adore in New York so I try to make plans in the city a few evenings a month as well!

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What is it like living in the suburbs without kids?

We have a few friends with kids but for the most part we’ve found a crew of fellow late twenty-somethings or early thirty-somethings who either grew up here or moved here for reasons other than the relative ease of raising children here. We’d love to have kids in the next few years and I’m happy we’ll be here when we start down that road, but for now we definitely don’t feel like we’re the only couple in town without kids! I can’t speak to the suburban dating scene or any bar that’s open past midnight, but there are definitely more DINK (dual income, no kids) couples here than we were anticipating!

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Is there anything you miss about living in the city (either New York or Dallas)?

I really miss the restaurant options we had in both New York and Dallas. There are some great spots in Fairfield County but nothing like being able to walk down a street in the West Village and find five new places you want to try. We also had an ideal takeout situation in Dallas which I reminisce about embarrassingly often (True Food, please make your way to CT/NY!). In Dallas we lived only ten minutes from an airport (whereas I now sometimes have to budget 90 minutes to get to JFK or LGA from CT) and appreciated being equidistant from both coasts. And we miss family and friends in both places for sure!

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Do you think you’ll be in Connecticut for the long haul?

Yes, we do! I never really thought I’d wind up back so close to (or maybe even in) my hometown, but living in so many different places in my twenties made me so much more appreciative of where I came from. I now appreciate that we’d be insanely lucky to send our future children to the public schools my siblings and I attended and that I’d taken a lot of the area’s natural and architectural beauty for granted growing up. I was a little nervous about how Will would like living in Connecticut given the commute into New York, but he really loves having more space and more amenities than we would have had in the city (maybe even more than I do!). It’s less affordable here than in Dallas but anyone who knows Will knows he is extremely positive and there are days when he’ll just say, “I love this house” or “we have a great life here.” He definitely misses being able to play tennis year-round in Dallas but thankfully our friends here have introduced him to paddle, which he will happily play even when it’s snowing outside, which I fail to understand even as a born-and-bred New Englander. And while it’s tough to be a three- or four-hour flight from his parents, we’ve been making plans to see them every two or three months and are trying to get our guest bedroom up and running so we can finally host them at our house!

I’d love to know: do you live in a city or the suburbs? What do you like most about where you live? 

21 thoughts on “WHAT WE LOVE ABOUT LIVING IN THE SUBURBS

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  1. Such interesting timing you wrote this! I just turned 27 and I live in Boston with my boyfriend. I swear lately I have been experiencing house fever more than engagement/wedding, baby and puppy fever! I grew up in the suburbs and have been fantasizing about how great it would be to have more space and privacy, and peace and quiet! We go out so much less frequently than we used to, which used to make city living so appealing – so much so that we were willing to live in an overpriced tiny apartment with no car (I fantasize about being able to do grocery store and target runs without having to lug everything home myself!)

    We do however struggle with the fact that right now we can both walk to work. Commutes suck and we’ll never have as good of a commute as we do now. Ahhh decisions.

  2. Love this post! I’m from the Chicago suburbs but stayed on East Coast after college, and I just hit one year in Stamford after 5 years in the city. I don’t like driving, so I would say that is the biggest adjustment I’m still working on! Love the space we have and our home, but with more space also comes more responsibility, areas to clean/ organize, and also decorate! It’s been overwhelming for me, so that’s why I love reading and seeing how people live. You are an excellent source of home decor inspo!

  3. Love this post, but it would have been fitting if you chose a photo from Greenwhich under the section, “why we chose greenwhich over other towns?” instead of Southport Harbor (or mentioned that the photo is of Southport)

  4. Bethany, I moved out of Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan area 28 years ago (to a large, “new urban” suburb in CT), and I STILL feel grief about leaving DC. So I feel your pain! In addition to the things you cited, I really miss the palpable energy of a city filled with interested and interesting people! That said, we now have many interesting and interested people in our own circle/life, who are dear and true friends and who we know would do anything for us at the drop of a hat, no questions asked …. no one’s ever too “busy” to help a friend or be a good neighbor. And we do NOT have to deal with that traffic. Hang in there!

  5. I grew up on a farm in Minnesota, so you would think the suburbs would be the middle ground between city and rural for me, but for some reason the suburbs haven’t really appealed to me. My husband and I lived in Minneapolis for 2 years and now live in St. Paul, and neither city is of the same scope as either Chicago or New York, of course, so that may be part of the reason. I like the uniqueness and diversity of the city, and how many things there are to do. My husband takes the light rail to work daily, and I either take it as well (more so in the winter) or drive. We have talked about eventually getting into a more rural area, and my husband has mentioned the suburbs (“for the schools”) so we’ll see where we end up as we’ll likely be moving once he finishes his PhD program.

  6. We were in the city but moved back to the North Shore of Long Island after we were married. My dad grew up in the town where we live and my grandfather lives only a mile away from us! While I grew up in the city and subsequently all over the country as my dad is in the Army, we always spent a lot of time here and I love being back. I’m lucky that I know a lot of people in the area, but we’re working on making new friends especially now that we have a baby!

    Thanks for sharing your post–I loved it!!

    Sarah | all in the details
    http://www.allindetailsblog.com

  7. My husband and I just purchased a house in his hometown, a suburb of Pittsburgh. I’ve never been much of a city person and always wanted to live in the suburb and we also knew this was where we wanted to raise kids when we have them one day. The perfect opportunity to purchase a house came along so we took the plunge. We’re still only about 20 minutes outside the city and close to lots of shopping and restaurants, so it’s not isolating. I personally wouldn’t have it any other way right now.

  8. Ah, I so relate to having the business of the city so close and then coming home to CT for the peace and quiet! I have loved our move to the “burbs” in lieu of NYC. Thanks for sharing! xx

  9. Mackenzie, this post totally resonated with me! I currently live in a suburb of Albany, NY with my fiancé who is from the area, however I grew up in Clinton, CT and often feel super homesick for Connecticut when I never expected to! When I moved back home after college, I was dying to get out of my small hometown as quickly as I could. Now, we someday expect to move back to the area when we decide to start a family and to (happily) keep an eye on my parents, as I’m an only child.

  10. I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, and I have zero desire to live in the city. I love being able to step outside and go running without having to deal with busy streets, and I LOVE having the ability to drive my car, run errands, and not have to pay for parking. I don’t see myself living up north forever because I loathe the winter, and I love the plentiful restaurant options in Charleston. I’m hoping to move south soon, but I still don’t think I’ll live in CHS – likely outside. I wish more twenty-somethings talked about choosing to live in the suburbs like this because I think it would open up a whole new conversation that has zero ties to feeling embarrassed. Thank you for your post!

  11. I totally agree with everything above! I lived in the suburbs of Toronto as a child, and then in Toronto for my teens/university. I went to a rural school in England for more education, and came back to downtown Toronto after. I’ve since moved out and I’m in a small town about an hour or so away (my parents are 5 mins away, coincidentally!). But it is the funny things – I have more space, I can decompress, and I truly enjoying getting things done with a car. I work from home but have to pop into Toronto every so often, and for the first little bit I truly missed the big city. But with time, I’ve realized I do have the best of both worlds – I can pop in at will, but also enjoy having a lawn. Funny enough, I was in Toronto for a training a few weeks back and couldn’t get over how overwhelming my once familiar ‘hood had become. I guess it just took time but I truly love where I am 🙂

    Great post, thank you Mackenzie!

  12. My husband and I bought a house in the suburbs of Maryland last year after living in downtown D.C. for several years. It’s been really hard to adjust–I consider my old D.C. neighborhood almost like an ex-boyfriend, and it’s actually painful when my friends talk about getting HH at the restaurants and bars where everyone knew me on a first-name basis, ha–and I REALLY miss the excellent food options. We did move somewhere where we could walk to stores and the park, etc, but the food options are mediocre and limited, plus it’s been so hard to adjust to the extreme lack of people. We live in a suburb of 4,000 people, and I’m lucky if I see my neighbors once a week! No one seems to walk or spend time outside. That said, we could never have afforded to buy in D.C., and I love having space, being able to find parking spots and the easy traffic (D.C. traffic had me in tears more than once. If an important politician is coming through your neighborhood, you can add an hour plus to your commute). I go back and forth, but I do feel real grief about leaving the city. I’m glad to see other DINKs have moved to the suburbs too. I wish my friends would get on board and move out here 🙂

  13. I live in a suburb just a few miles down the road from my parents. I never expected to be back in this town, single in my late twenties, but like you said above, it’s a surprising blessing to be close to my parents. I love being friends with them as adults and career-wise I’m in an industry I didn’t expect but love so much. My one complaint is that the single men in this suburb tend to skew a little more… rural… than I typically go for. But I’m assuming it will all work out. The major city I’m near is 25 minutes away and growing so more city amenities are coming to me.

  14. It’s great to hear that you guys are loving your living situation! I live in NYC but we have talked about moving to Connecticut once we get married and want to start a family in the next few years. I love the city for my current stage of life but I’m already excited for certain aspects of suburban life like having a car and a big yard for our pup, and more space overall! And I’m definitely not one of those brave souls that can raise kids in the city, haha. I grew up in New England and have some family in Connecticut, so I’m familiar with a few towns, but mostly ones closer to MA and RI so none would really work for a commute to NYC. If you or any of your readers has a little cheat sheet of different towns in Fairfield County that would be super helpful!!

  15. LOVE this. My husband and I are both from CT, but I moved to Austin when I was 16 and he moved here last year to be with me. Not sure how familiar you are with Austin, but we live in the Hyde Park area and it’s perfect mix of suburban and city—near all kinds of restaurants/entertainment and we’re in a true Austin zip code, but we’re also in a neighborhood of cute bungalows where the bank, post office, etc. are all within a mile of each other. Once we have kids though… I definitely see us back in CT. There’s no place like home.

  16. I love this!! We live in the suburbs of Nashville and do truly love it, even if I’m still constantly trying to move us to Charleston, South Carolina. (Once again, though, in the suburbs!) I grew up in a super rural community on a bunch of farmland and while it’s beautiful and feels like home because all of my family is there, our suburban life feels like “city life” to me (which I know is laughable to pretty much anyone who’s legitimately from the city!). I love being 10 minutes from Target, having actual neighbors we have relationships with, a short drive to a church that has more than 30 members in the congregation, a neighborhood barre studio, and so many events and activities to bring our small children to. My mom always did a good job seeking out opportunities for us despite the hourlong drive it took to get to Nashville from their home, but it’s sooooo convenient to be a hop skip and jump away for our family now! I would still love to move out of state because I haven’t had the chance yet and I think we’re more “island/beach people” than anything, ultimately.