Having a second child is making me consider something I never thought I would do: moving to the suburbs. As much as I love living in New York City, I just can't take the financial pressure and the stress any more. So rather than argue about money and career choices with my husband, we're thinking of putting our home on the market within the year. Frankly, we'd do it now if only I wasn't so far along in my pregnancy.
It seems we aren't the only ones in America feeling a bit strapped these days. According to a recent ING Direct survey, nearly 30 percent of couples say the recession has "added stress", "strained", or even "ruined" their marriage or relationship. But unlike some of the folks who were interviewed by the bank, we are willing to make some dramatic sacrifices to ease some of the tension.
For us, however, a move to the suburbs could actually create some new problems. By leaving the city we'll have to accept that our marriage will get a bit more traditional than we'd like. With very small children I just don't see how two parents can commit to long commutes. Should a child get sick or hurt, someone needs to be close enough to handle the situation. Since my husband has more earning potential than me, I would likely end up working from home for an extended period of time and giving up the job opportunities that come along with being in New York.
Second, since my husband works long hours, I also wouldn't see much of him and would by default become the primary caretaker of our children. Now, with just a 20 minute commute, my husband is able to co-parent and show up for school events.
Finally, by moving we would also give up living close to family. Currently, my parents reside just 20 blocks away. If I ever get caught up with work or get sick, my mother can easily go and pick my daughter up from day care. That's a huge help that I would be walking away from.
Despite all of these challenges, my husband and I still think the sacrifice may be worth it if we aren't constantly stressed about money and the prospect of affording private school for two. We also know, however, that we'll have to be very careful and give our plan a lot of thought before we call the movers. Many couples find they don't actually save as much money as they had hoped when they move from the city to the suburbs. The expense of maintaining a home and two cars is often far greater than urban dwellers realize.
So what's our plan? To make our move worthwhile in our minds we'd need to feel like we were coming into some kind of financial windfall. To do that, we'd need to buy a modest house in a great school district. If possible, we'd like to use the proceeds from our apartment to fund the purchase so we would no longer have a mortgage. On the car front, we'd buy two very small, cheap and fuel efficient vehicles that don't bleed us dry. Fortunately, neither one of us feels a need to impress the neighbors with fancy wheels.
Where would the extra money go? That's easy. First we'd make sure our retirement savings looks flush. Next, we'd feed our kids' college savings accounts. And if we still had money left over after all of our family necessities, we'd go on the kind of vacations we used to take before we had children.
What would you sacrifice to save money? I'd love to hear from other families to see how they manage the added expenses of kids.
For More Nesting Blog Posts:
Nesting: 10 Tasks for Second Time Parents
Nesting: My Pregnancy and Health Insurance Headaches
Home for Sale image by brokersaunders, CC 2.0.