I grew up in the suburbs, in a big house with a backyard to run around in. I don’t have children yet, but I’ve always thought that when the time comes, I would move out of my apartment in the city to somewhere more child-appropriate — like the suburbs.
But according to trend forecaster, Bernard Salt, a growing number of families are choosing city living over the great Australian dream of a suburban castle. Those who can afford it are simply buying the family home without the commute (driving up the median price for four-bedroom houses in inner-ring Sydney suburbs to approximately $1.5m according to Australian Property Monitors). But for those of more modest means, choosing to raise a family in the inner city means being prepared to opt for apartment living.
On the plus side, there is proximity to work and play. Apparently for many of us time-poor Generation Xers low-maintenance and location rate higher than the traditional quarter acre block. There are parks-a-plenty in the city, with lots of grass you don’t have to mow, and fountains and birds and trees — more than you might see in your average backyard.
Instead of driving everywhere city kids would walk more, so they’d probably be healthier in the long run. They’d also be more likely to use public transport, so they would grow up making a much less negative impact on the environment than their suburban-reared parents. And there’s easy access to all the cultural and educational institutions the city has to offer.
But what about the practicalities? Do existing apartments really cater to the needs of families with young children? Easy access for prams and strollers, tonnes of clever storage, child-safe balconies, a laundry area and access to a secure garden are just a few of the essentials I’d be looking for in that situation.
And how many parents are really willing to give up on the dream of raising their kids with the same carefree freedom they enjoyed themselves? Would you swap backyard cricket, BBQs at the neighbours and roaming free during school holidays from breakfast till dusk for ballet and music lessons, competitive sport and holiday camps and kids clubs. And that’s without even touching on every parent’s foremost concern — safety.
What do you think? Would you choose to bring up your children in the city over the suburbs? Or do you think growing up in the suburbs would be a safer option?