3 Things No One Asks About a Suburb (But SHOULD…)

Jul 18, 2018

Virtually every city family has the same questions when they start thinking about moving to the suburbs…


What are the SCHOOLS like?


What kind of HOUSES can I expect to find?


How long is the COMMUTE?


Is there a downtown?


The reality? They’re all great questions and definitely worth asking and exploring first-hand before moving to the suburbs. But, beyond test scores and property taxes and train times, there are lots of other must-asks that, in many ways, will inform your suburban experience as much if not more than the last round of rankings. Those questions?


#1. Is there BUSING?

In some school districts just about everyone gets a bus. In others, no one does. And in many, busing happens based on distance to the school—and that distance can change over time. Be sure you’re crystal-clear on who gets a ride and who doesn’t, and be sure to keep your ear to the ground for local votes and changes. One NYC suburb, for example, recently upped seventh to 12th grade busing to families more than a mile away. “A family I spoke to has a rising sixth and seventh grade,” she said. Despite attending the same school and, of course, living at the same address, “the sixth grader can take the bus to middle school—the seventh grader can’t.”


While your Suburban Jungle Strategist can help get to the bottom of local bus policies, a quick post on an area parent board is another good go-to. Local mamas are usually very happy to add some color to any school-related conversation and often have the scoop on upcoming changes or, even, rumors starting to bubble up. Having that intel before moving to the suburbs is priceless.


#2. What are the school CUT OFF DATES?

Don’t assume your fall or winter kid has a spot in the upcoming kindergarten class. Kindergarten cut-offs can vary from as early as July or August to as late as December 31. In that vein, don’t assume because another nearby town has a September 30 cutoff your town will, too—and don’t assume a district with a December 1 cutoff will be flexible with your December 15th child.


Since cutoffs and the rules surrounding vary from town to town and district to district and, if your child has a post-summer birthday, it’s worth a call or quick-check to determine when they’ll be able to start school. While, like anything, there’s no right or wrong, it’s good to know going in if you’re staring down year three of preK or are heading to “big kid” school.




#3. What does the CHILDCARE SCENE look like?

Nannies, au pairs, daycare, SAHMs and SAHDs…every town has a distinct childcare scene that informs more than just where the kids go before and after school. Often the prevalent childcare choice dictates everything from whether or not there are weekday birthday parties to how playdates are structured and activities are divided.


While you’ll always find some exceptions to the pervasive “rules,” many families find it tough to be on the outside. In the pre-preschool years it can be tough to make new friends if you’re at work and everyone else is elbow-deep in mommy-and-me yoga. Same goes for the elementary school years—no parent wants their child left out of playdates because they’re heading to daycare after school and everyone else is hanging with their nannies. But, at the same time, what mom wants to be surrounded by 20-year-old German-speaking au pairs day after day? Probably not your go-to social circle…


Again, it’s all important and all informs your suburban experience. Dig deep, work with your Suburban Jungle Strategist and be sure you’re asking these added questions. At the end of the day they’re all critical pieces of the suburban puzzle that will inform how your family integrates and, ultimately, thrives in suburbia. Again, it’s not about getting the answers to these questions, but knowing to ask them in the first place which is where the concept of Suburban Jungle was truly born.

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