It’s been almost one year since we moved out of the city after more than a decade. When we returned to Philly from NYC in 2002, my husband and I rented our first place in The Touraine a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square. It was a studio apartment that was great for relationship issues. Place was so small that you couldn’t stay in a fight too long. There was no where to go! It may have been a closet at one point. Couldn’t really say. However, we absolutely loved it for the location and our introduction to this city that, really, I only knew as a place to see shows or go to a milestone dinner. From there, we moved to Washington Square to a “massive” one bedroom in Independence Place (200 square feet bigger!). It was serene and initially felt so far away from all we knew, but we quickly fell into step with the rhythm below Broad and our love for the city expanded. After a few years, we were ready to buy. At the time, I was running my Pilates studio in Old City and that neighborhood felt like it had a vibe that jived with our lifestyle. In a stroke of luck, we found our dream condo on Craigslist, and in what was the most smooth real estate transaction I’ve ever heard of, we settled on our first owned home 11 years after our first date.
We spent 5 amazing years there. Our place on Race Street was an old paper mill and so it had exposed brick, high ceilings, hard wood floors and a ton of character. It was there that we both felt was a reflection of us. We celebrated New Years, birthdays, new job opportunities, and even more importantly, where we brought home our first daughter. We had front row seats to the excitement of the 2008 Election and the Philadelphia Marathon, I walked the Ben Franklin Bridge a few times a week, and the familiar faces in the neighborhood made me feel grounded. Why move? We were expecting our second daughter and our place was less than ideal for one kid let alone two. We also needed at least three bedrooms, possibly four since we work from home. And the last reason, was the schools. Wherever we could afford to buy, we’d probably have to consider private school, which wasn’t an option.
Moving to the suburbs wasn’t totally foreign to us. We both grew up outside of Philadelphia – me in Bryn Mawr and my husband in Ambler. However, we both felt such a deep connection to the city and the decision to move pulled the rug out from under me. It was because of this and a few other reasons as I describe for my article in DailyWorth.com that we chose to rent for the first few years in the suburbs.
One year later, we are honestly still trying to figure out our next move. We miss the city terribly. I love the freedom of walking everywhere (and the exercise I got!), the variety of places to eat and shop and the serendipitous encounters that seemed to happen on a regular basis. I will say that I don’t miss fighting for parking or lugging a stroller up a flight of stairs just to get in the front door! Being in the city can be tiring and exhilarating!
Things are different a few miles away from Old City. Just like any ecosystem, there are various social norms…ways of doing things – especially when you have kids – that you have to get used to and have the strength to figure out what works best for you and your family. Slowly, but surely we’re doing just that. Our daughter, Sophie, loves her new (temporary) home. It’s priceless to see the joy she gets from walking out the front door twirling in the front yard and actually playing in her room since there’s space to do that. We’ve been to neighborhood parades and playgrounds and gotten used to the relative silence (although now she is super sensitive to loud noises!).
Renting this year has given us time to get a feel for what we really want when we do buy. We were on VERY different pages this time last year as far as what was important to us. Luckily the clarity we’re getting as we live this chapter of our lives has brought us closer to a common vision for our future.