Did you catch the premiere of American Housewife? It’s a fun comedy—and who couldn’t use a little of that right now? But more than that, the show really captures some of the unique challenges of moving your family to suburbia. And, more importantly, it really nails why choosing the right ‘burb comes down to a lot more than A+ schools and quick commutes. Like Katie Otto discovers in American Housewife, every town has a personality—and, in some towns, that personality is a lot bigger than others. So what did this suburban mom learn that parents considering suburbia can take away? A few things…
#1. Towns Have Personalities—BIG ONES
In American Housewife, Katie and her family moves to Westport, CT. It’s a fantastic town, with great schools and top notch amenities and activities. We’ve worked with many families who, now, call Westport home—and LOVE it. But is it the perfect town for everyone? No—no town is. And it’s certainly not the right town for Katie, at least in the premiere episode. She’s uncomfortable in her new town right off the bat, not meshing with the other moms and feeling like an outsider in her own community.
Exploring a variety of towns would have given the Ottos some choice, In Fairfield County alone there are lots of outstanding school systems and towns that may have aligned better with Katie’s expectations and her own strong personality. Expanding her search into other NYC suburbs would have given them even more choice. But, from what we saw in episode one, it seems like the Ottos didn’t take the time to really dig in—and that can be a challenge.
#2. Schools Aren’t The Be All, End All
Every parent who moves to suburbia wants “good schools” for their kids. It’s a no-brainer—who wouldn’t? That said, though, “good schools” don’t have a single definition. Some parents see big schools with tons of AP classes and after school activities as “good.” Others like a small school where there’s less competition and more individualized attention. Some might even be focused on private or parochial schools, and that means the “good” schools don’t even necessarily have to be in town—they could be in a neighboring community.
Our advice? Don’t just scan the rankings and pick a town—there’s more to schools and school districts than just reviews and test scores. And, beyond that, don’t just pick a town for its schools. Lots of towns have great schools—focus on a town that has the educational path you’re looking for and fits your family’s personality, wants and needs.
#3. Moms Matter
The only working mom in a sea of SAHMs? Or planning to stay home in a very nanny-friendly community? While it doesn’t have to be the deciding factor in your town search, it is something to consider. If your kids are in daycare or home with a nanny all day, while their classmates are with mom or dad, they may miss out on playdates and other fun activities. And, likewise, if you’re home while the bulk of the parents head to the city each day, you may not find the level of kid-friendly classes and programming you’re looking for—or you may wind up being the only mom in the sea of nannies. Again, it may work for you and it may not—but it’s something to weigh in your decision.
In American Housewife—as the name suggests—we’ve mostly seen housewives, including Katie. But it’s not their work-or-not status that’s the challenge—it’s the fact that these moms have interests and commitments that don’t necessarily fit with Katie’s priorities. These green juice swilling, yoga class taking, athleisure moms are in direct opposition to Katie’s big, bold, brash personality. What comes next? We’ll have to see…
Our takeaways? That American Housewife really solidifies what we’ve always said—get to know the town, get to know the neighborhood and decide if it’s the right fit for your family. No two ‘burbs—and no two families—are the same. When you’re ready to make the leap from urban to suburban, we’re here. We’ve got experts in the field to help you really get a feel for who’s who and what’s what. And for a move this momentous, that’s the most important thing.
To figure out which suburb your family truly fits, click here for your complimentary suburbs strategy session.