Checking in on the Donovans: How This Now Family-of-Four is Settling into the New Jersey Suburbs

Nov 21, 2020

They moved, welcomed baby #2 and, now, are loving life in Maplewood

As we head into the holidays, we’re checking in with some former Suburban Jungle families who, now, are settled in suburbia—and are thankful for having made the leap. First up are the Donovans who moved to Maplewood a year ago. Heather Donovan and her wife spent a decade in Manhattan before moving to Hoboken where they welcomed their son Oliver. But, after spending nearly two years in Hoboken, they knew they needed to explore the “real” suburbs. Not only were they expecting baby #2, but Oliver was definitely ready for more space and a backyard. After connecting with Suburban Jungle and their Strategist Allison Levine, the family jumped in, exploring several towns in Westchester and New Jersey. Ultimately, the Donovans moved to Maplewood in late 2019—and haven’t looked back. They shared their story with us in March and, as they approach their one-year anniversary in suburbia, we checked in to see what’s new and how they’re adjusting. (Be sure to check out their first post, Making a Pre-Holiday (and Pre-Baby) Move to Maplewood)

What’s new with the Donovans…

“We’ve really settled into suburban life,” Heather says. “We welcomed a baby girl in July, so between newborn life and COVID-19 life, we couldn’t be more grateful for our home and backyard.” Since moving to Maplewood, she says, they’ve done a few major projects on the house including landscaping the backyard to be more toddler-friendly, installing central air and, recently, replacing the roof. An active family, they’ve also spent a lot of time exploring the great outdoors. “We’ve really enjoyed having access to the outdoors exploring nearby parks, hikes and lakes as well as weekend trips to family at the shore, a much easier drive than from our old place,” Heather says. “We loved our regular playgrounds in the city and Hoboken but we got a little bored of them. Here we have nature trails, bike paths, open fields and an amazing variety of playgrounds to keep things interesting.” Read more articles in this series: Checking in on the Staloffs: After Making a Move, This New Jersey Family Decided to Try Again—with Suburban Jungle Checking in on the Warrens: Eight Months into Move #7, This Time to the Bay Area Suburbs Checking in on Zeke & Bitsy Ridout: Getting Ready for Their Second Holiday in Rowayton

How they’re spending their days in the ‘burbs

While the Donovans have been more limited in their weekend activities since COVID-19 hit, they’re still diving into the activities and amenities in and around Maplewood. On a typical weekend, they’ll take walks, grab doughnuts at Palmer’s Bakehouse, then stop into the Soma General Store to stock up on holiday gifts and other goodies. “Then we hit as many playgrounds as possible—it’s a theme with us!” Heather says. “Our weekends were more or less the same pre-COVID, except we’d usually grab lunch at the Diner, get coffee and treats from Able Baker or have friends over for brunch.” Oliver was also quick to adjust to life in Maplewood. Soon after the move, Heather enrolled him in swim lessons at the YMCA and Oh! Canary art studio classes. His favorite part of the ‘burbs, though, is his new backyard. “As soon as we moved in we landscaped our side yard to enclose it and put up a swing set,” Heather says. “So this summer was filled with lots of pool, sprinkler and water table time!”

Thankful for having made the move

Looking back, it’s been a whirlwind year for the Donovans, but they’re happy to have found Maplewood—and Heather encourages other families to get out and explore so they can find their ideal community. “Don’t get too lost in the statistics of a place,” Heather says. “They certainly help to narrow your search—but we got an instant feeling when we saw Maplewood that it was a good fit for us. It’s turned out to be just what we were looking for.” As the Donovan Family heads into the holidays—and year two in Maplewood—they’re grateful to have made the move, especially pre-baby and pre-COVID-19. Now, fully immersed in their new community, they’re excited for all that comes next, from exploring more of the great outdoors to resuming some of Oliver’s favorite activities. “I’m so thankful for a community of like-minded individuals,” Heather says. “This has been a tough year all around—our town has become a haven.” Searching for your “haven?” Get in touch and schedule your free Suburbs Strategy session now.

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