If you’re looking to make a move from the city to the suburbs, you’ve probably spent lots of time exploring towns, houses and life outside the hustle and bustle. It makes sense — before you commit to spending the foreseeable future in a community, you want to ensure it checks all the critical boxes for your family. Maybe that’s a certain type of school, commute, sport, activity or overall lifestyle — the outdoor adventurer, beach-goer or chic city-to-suburbanite, let’s say.
But, before you take the plunge, make sure you’re really getting below the surface and discovering who’s who and what’s what in a particular town. And that means going a little further than most city dwellers go when they’re exploring suburbia. Some good places to start?
#1. Stop by School Drop Off & Pick Up
By now you’ve probably researched the schools and, maybe, even popped by for a visit or tour. But have you taken a spin through the parking lot during drop off or pick up? If not, give it a whirl — you might be surprised by what you see.
Who shows up at school pick ups and drop offs tells you a lot about a community. Is the scene completely dominated by SAHMs en route to SLT? Working moms sprinting to the train? Nannies hustling kids into the building while trying to keep unruly toddlers in check? Nineteen-year-old German au pairs making plans for post-drop off? Someone else, even?
Once you’ve surveyed the scene, really think about who was picking up or dropping and how you, your family and your child care plan fit into that scene. Sure, you can absolutely buck the trends and be the working mama in the see of stay-at-homes, or you can pop your kids into daycare in a town dominated by nannies. But, at the very least, you should know that going in.
That said, many families find it easily to integrate into a community that syncs with their childcare wants and needs. Think about it — if lots of other families are on your schedule in terms of work, school and playdates, making friends and making community connections will be that much easier. No one wants to hear that their kids are being left out of after school playdates because they head to daycare when the others head to the park with their moms or nannies. And, likewise, most moms don’t want to spend every afternoon hanging with teenage au pairs — likely not their core social group.
#2. Check Out a Soccer Game
Or lacrosse or Little League or tennis — anything that’s popular in that community. One new-to-the-burbs mom recently shared a story of heading to their child’s soccer game and seeing the town-to-town differences first-hand. The families from her suburb were relaxed, comfortable and ready to play. The other town? They were decked out from head to toe — they definitely didn’t look like moms and dads on the sidelines of a tween soccer game.
Maybe you’re that weekend athleisure mom — or maybe you’re the well-heeled soccer mom. There’s no right or wrong in the urban-to-suburban game. But you definitely want to understand a community’s culture and “standard” before you pack up and move in. Again, you might decide to go against the current but, often, families decide they want a town that syncs with their lifestyle. And, in that case, it’s good to know which side of the field is which so you can jump in where you feel most comfortable.
#3. Head to the Diner
This is a great way to check out the community — who doesn’t love a diner? Pick a popular time, like weekend brunch so you get a good cross-section of the suburb and the surrounding area. Once you settle in at your booth, scan the room and see what — and who — you see. Is it tons of families coming from church, soccer or dance class? Multi-generational families popping in for a quick bite? Teenagers cramming for finals — or goofing off? Young families? Older families?
While it’s far from perfect science, this is a good way to get a pulse-check for a community in a casual, laid back environment. If you have a chance, strike up a conversation with the waiter or waitress or, even, with a mom or dad waiting to be seated. People are usually happy to chat, especially with someone considering their town.
Suburban Jungle is an award-winning firm that specializes in moving families from urban to suburban. The company’s innovative “town first” approach helps buyers find the right suburb for their family based on personality and lifestyle, not just the house. Services are FREE and fully customized to each family and their unique journey. To learn more and to connect with a Suburbs Strategist, visit www.suburbanjunglerealty.com and click GET STARTED.
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