Leaving the City: A Mixed Experience

Ever considered leaving the city for the more open spaces of the suburbs? In this article Toronto Mom Now Top 30 Mom Blogger Christella Morris shares her mixed experience.

I spent the majority of my formative years in a fairly small town. In fact, to call it small is a bit of an overstatement. I lived in what is commonly referred to as a “hamlet”. Less people, more cows. I travelled over 55 minutes to school (each way) on the bus to a small-to-medium sized city. That city had a couple of malls, over 100,000 people, it was big enough to warrant a transit system…

…but it wasn’t big enough for me. Not even close.

I remember how out-of-place I felt then. I dressed far more fashionably than most girls in my school did. In a big city like Toronto my fashionista ways would’ve been admired, but in a smaller town I was just plain weird. Moving to the city was just a natural progression for me. The day after my last high school exam I packed my bags and headed off to one of the biggest cities in the world. I wasn’t afraid, not even apprehensive really. I felt like I was going home.

Fast-forward just under 10 years, about seven apartments, three cars, two kids and one house later and I am smack-dab back in the middle of suburbia. I never thought I’d be here again, but shockingly: I’m thoroughly happy that I am.

Having a family can certainly change your perspective on things and where you live is just one of them. If you were looking for a pros and cons list to decide to leave the city, this probably isn’t going to help. I’m just as divided as you!

Leaving the City: Top Five Reasons I Miss It

5. Late-night dining. Dining in general, actually. When we lived in the city we ate out probably two or three times per week. Okay, okay, we ate out almost every night. There were so many choices, tastes, cultures and I’m sorry but no matter how good the Artichoke Dip is at Applebee’s, it just doesn’t compare.

4. Public Transit.love my car and the independence it provides me, the gas mileage alone is enough to make you give up bi-weekly mani-pedis! Public transit allowed me to go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted and it always only cost (roughly) three bucks!

3. There’s always something going on! Most neighbourhoods have great community events and you don’t have to travel far to try something new. Plus, there’s a lot more free things to do. Free concerts. Zombie walks. Cinemacabre! The horseshoe! Ah! I could go on!

2. Cultural Diversity. I’m not saying my new “Toronto Adjacent” home in the Greenbelt is white-washed, but I’m just saying I see a lot more Confederate flags these days! I do miss the cross-sections of cultural neighbourhoods like Chinatown. (I do not however miss the smell in the summer.)

1. The Shopping! As much as I love H&M, I do miss the little boutiques and vintage stores across Queen Street West and around downtown in general. I could spend 45 minutes in Fashion Crimes and Missdemeanors just staring at all of the pretty dresses!

Leaving the City: Top Five Reasons I Don’t Miss It

5. Public Transit. “But you just said you missed it!” I know! But seriously, cramming yourself (and your baby, baby gear etc.) into a streetcar during rush hour is comparable to water-boarding. Not to mention the hoards of lovely (see: creepers) people you can find riding transit, leering at you, smelling “that smell” as my son would say, at all hours of the day and night.

4. The Other Parents. I loved having a baby in the city, but one thing I noticed (especially since leaving) is that the average age for becoming a parent is somewhere around 39. At 23 going-on 24 I felt like a high-schooler. Also, the competitive nature of parenting in the city is far worse than the suburbs. “My son just got his doctorate in Ancient Philosophy, what did yours do by two and a half?”

3. Being Neighbourly. I loved my neighbourhood, but I didn’t know my neighbours beyond the general “hey” and “how’s it going?” you do when you meet each other at the door step or in the hallway. Smiling at random strangers was often met with sneers or questioning looks. In our new town everyone is so friendly and welcoming, it’s a nice change of pace.

2. The space! As I sit here, stretched out in my 600 sq.ft living/dining/kitchen area in our teeny tiny town-home, I’m still overwhelmed with the abundance of space we have compared to the city. Squeezing a family of four into a 800 square foot condo and trying to pretend the “den” is an adequate living space for a four year old just wasn’t a good time.

1. The Cost of Living The one thing that truly made us decide that leaving the city was the right choice was the fact that, unless we sold our internal organs (and I mean all of them) on the black market, there was literally zero chance of ever being able to afford a home in the city. Everything is cheaper here. Grocery bills have lost as much weight as I’ve gained! Gas (although still expensive) is at least affordable. Our family has more space for less money. I think it’s a good trade off.

Although I miss a lot of the attributes of the city (see: everything but Rob Ford and the housing market) I don’t think, at this point anyway, that I regret leaving the city. I miss the idea of it, but between the amazing community we’ve built here and the ever-growing population, I think we’ll be sticking around for a long time to come.

leaving the city christella morrisWhat she lacks in cooking and cleaning skills, Christella Morris makes up for in humour. Taking up blogging in her days touring with bands, she has since transferred her niche from merchandising to mommy blogging with a side of sarcasm. Christella lives in Bowmanville, ON (which she swears is still part of the GTA) with her two boys, Cash and Carter and her partner, Colin. She blogs at crawltheline.com and if you can figure out what her kids names have to do with her blog title, tweet her at @christellasays.

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1 Comment
  1. I love the ‘burbs and I think it’s such a great place to raise a family. However, hubby and I have already decided that once the kids are grown and started lives of their own, we will move to the city. We love the city… without kids. lol Whenever we get a chance, we try to plan date nights in the city. We love the atmosphere, the choices for places to eat, shows to see, etc etc… even just talking a walk late at night in the summer, looking at the architecture, people watching, grabbing a drink at some new little place we found tucked away. We could have a lot of adventures living in the city. 🙂