Location, location… is the city or the country the best place to raise kids?

Jun 28 • Uncategorized • 1112 Views • 20 Comments on Location, location… is the city or the country the best place to raise kids?

One of my friends has recently relocated to the South Coast and I have serious location envy. Imagine waking up to the beautiful beach every morning and being able to play on the sands with your kids every day after school or enjoy bracing walks along the Downs any time you feel like it. 

That's when the weather's good, of course. But there are definite advantages I can see to raising children in the country or by the coast (or both). Presumably they have more freedom and are healthier, for a start. Plus I'm presuming it's slightly easier to get into a decent school closer to home.

What are the advantages of raising children in a city? Well I grew up in London and I know that I was far more street savvy than my uni friends who had grown up in rural areas. Bringing up a family here does have lots of advantages. We can go to a museum or cinema any time we want, I doubt very much I'll ever hear the words 'I'm bored' because there's nothing to do, and of course there are lots of parks any time we need some fresh air and exercise.

But still I yearn for the coast and countryside. Am I romanticising it? I'd love to know what you think.

written by Liz Jarvis


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20 Responses to Location, location… is the city or the country the best place to raise kids?

  1. Becky says:

    I currently live in Hastings. It is lovely to be able to take a stroll down to the sea whenever you feel like it. Though I have to admit we don’t do it that much any more! We are moving up to Cumbria in the summer and I’m looking forward to being very close to wonderful mountains & lakes and a more rural setting.

  2. Emily O says:

    We lived in London and moved out to start our family. I love London but couldn’t envisage negotiating the tube with little ones and I wanted to afford a bigger house and garden for children. We’re now ‘semi-rural’ in a village. It’s easy to get to bigger towns nearby, we’re 10 minutes drive from the M4 and can do London as a day trip. And we can see fields from our house. I love the combination we have now. I do miss the great places to eat and drink and events and museums though. At least London isn’t far.

  3. Deer Baby says:

    I live by the sea in Brighton after living in London for many, many years. I still love everything London has to offer and we’re only a short train ride away. I love all the museums and galleries and shops. But in the end the traffic, noise, pollution, tube (no lifts for pushchairs – criminal) got to me and we left. Still love it though. My 2 year old calls it Loud London. I’m not sure I could ever do the real country countryside though -I’m quite a city girl at heart.

  4. Jude says:

    It’s a tough one – I can never make up my mind whether to move out or stay put – there are advantages and disadvantages on both sides. I would seriously miss the resources and convenience of the city, but would love the space and ‘safety’ of the countryside. However, although I think my kids would love the countryside now, I’m not sure how they’d feel when they’re older – would they be bored by not having everything on their doorstep? I sometimes think that the yearning for the countryside is more an idealised view of what I might want for myself personally, than what my children would really appreciate. It’s a decision we’ll have to make soon though if we ever manage to sell our current house – possibly the schools issue might swing it for us!

  5. Jacq says:

    We live in the London suburbs. 25 mins to Baker St by tube, 3 parks in walking distance, and 755 acres of wood within 5 mins in the car. There are lakes and mounds and country parks a short drive away. We have shops at the end of the road and Heathrow half an hour away. It’s perfect for us and great for the kids- now and when they are older and are wanting to do stuff with their mates.

  6. Ali says:

    I moved to the Isle of Wight about a year when we decided to start a family. I regularly commute for work, whether to London or other cities, but I yearn to get back to fresh air and "community" after a long day in the urban jungle. I’d like my daughter to try both (and more) when she’s old enough, but for now she’s relatively safer and happier playing on the beach in the summer, and wading through the countryside in wellies during the winter.

  7. MuddyNoSugar says:

    I grew up in the out back of beyond, in one of the Shropshire border villages I would leave the house in the morning and come back when I got hungry, dirty and wild, in the summer I would be ‘brown as a berry’. I now live in the suburbs of Birmingham, with my husband and 2 girls. I made a concious decision to stay in the city when we had kids. When I was under 10 the country was great but then as a young teen it was very very boring. Drugs and drinking was rife, as was under age pregnancy. I left as soon as I was 18 and went to London, which strangely was quite tame in comparison. Less booze, less drugs, less fighting..where I was anyway. My parents and friends still live there so my kids get plenty of opportunities to play in the country but we also have the opportunity to let them grow up in a truly multicultural part of the world and see all kinds of people. The people of Birmingham are open minded and on the whole pretty darn lovely it is a great place to live and it’s right in the middle of everything.

  8. Victoria says:

    Having grown up in London and now living here with my children, I’d have to vote for London. I love being in the countryside and near the beach, but I’m not sure that I actually want to live there all the time. What do you do when it’s pouring with rain. Other than get muddy. If I want woods and streams, then I’ve got Wimbledon common down the road and it’s only a short train journey from Clapham junction to all kinds of lovely places. But I’m also a bus ride from world class museums. And we have a great community around here. I rarely walk down the street without seeing someone I know.

  9. Jessica says:

    Cornwall can’t beat it! I grew up here but went to university in London. It wasn’t planned but I did eventually come back to raise my own family in Cornwall. I admit that as a girl as I grew older there didn’t seem to be much excitement. I think girls tend to be more urban and I craved shops / cafe’s and to hang about with friends. But 30 years on, opportunities for things to do are very different. I’ve now found that there is no shortage of activities for children as they are growing up, and interesting things for adults alike. With two coasts, miles of beaches, fantastic and varied countryside for walks. Festivals, a variety of events and lots of sporting and outdoors activities. It has become a much more ‘happening’ place to be. My children recognise how lucky they are to enjoy so much space and freedom and I wouldn’t wish to bring them up anywhere else.

  10. samantha says:

    Mine are city kids – but there isn’t a day goes by when I don’t recollect the fond memories of my childhood in the country and wish that I could be sharing the joys of motherhood with them in the countryside instead. That’s not to say that there upbringing is or will be any worse than my own – just different.

  11. julie says:

    we live in london in a very family orientated area – school close by and my girls have lots of friends coming and going, they horse ride, play in the park, walk the dog but it is one hectic tread mill of a life – i would love a more peaceful, less keeping up with the jones social whirl ( and all this for the kids not us!) and we havent been to a museum in years!

  12. Expat Mum says:

    We live in the city (Chicago) and, as I’m saying in my current post, there are times when I long for the peace of the countryside, but the ease of walking everywhere is great. Every so often we all have "garden envy" when we see the enormous back gardens of our friends in the suburbs. However, it’s my kids who howl in outrage if I ever suggest we move there. Interestingly however, they aren’t that street savvy. I think it’s because city parents here tend to be more cautious about letting them wander around. My daughter, at 17, has only just started hanging around downtown with her friends. She’s also determined to go to a city university rather than being stuck out in the middle of nowhere.

  13. nappyvalleygirl says:

    I always said I would never move out of London but moving temporarily to the suburbs of New York has been a real eye opener. There is much more space here, it feels safer and yet we are only 40 mins from the city by train. We’re also by the sea which is fantastic both in summer and winter. If I could find the equivalent place near London, I’d be very tempted to move out.

  14. Liz says:

    I like where we live at the moment (Market Town/Smal City) l and I wouldn’t go more rural. It’s great for small children, they have more freedom and there is a fantastic community vibe. But the state schools are very overcrowded, due to us Londoners, foreign workers etc who’ve moved here where I live is an hour from London so a lot of commuters. But there is nothing for teenagers to do and I mean nothing, no cinema, no youth clubs zilch. So there is a lot of drinking/low level drug abuse and general teenage bored behavior. Currently hoping this is going to change in the next 10 years, but might have to move back to town?

  15. 21st Century Mummy says:

    I’m torn. Living in a city, especially London, definitely has plenty of pros if you have kids, lots of museums, parks, things to do, it’s probably a lot more child-friendly than living in the country. I live in Fulham, which is brilliant for kids, and have a huge network of mums friends a walk or short drive away. My 2 year old’s nursery is a 5 minute walk. It’s all very easy and convenient. I recently did a post that might be of interest about London being so child-friendly http://21stcenturymummy.com/2010/06/24/is-the-uk-really-that-child-unfriendly/ On the downside the state schooling is terrible in the area, so we have to fork out extortionate fees for private nurseries/schools. There’s too much traffic/pollution and life moves very fast. I also don’t think it’s a great place for teenagers. Pubs, clubs etc are far too accessible and I think they end up growing up way too quickly. I’d love to move to the coast, so we can be near the beach and have a big garden, with a huge trampoline, swings and slides etc. But then again I’m not quite ready! Instead we’re looking at moving to Singapore, UAE or The US.

  16. Gilly says:

    As a child I grew up in a town in Yorkshire and my parents spent their time taking us to the countryside. Now years later,married with two little people, I live in the country in Shropshire with farm land on three sides (neighbours on the fourth!) fantastic views and land for the kids to run around and enjoy the great outdoors. This county is fab with lots of things to do and cities are never far away, although the sea is!! minus points – big gardens take a lot of time to look after and going anywhere is always a car journey plus points – growing vegetables with the children is fun and I can’t imagine walking down the garden to say hello to the cows in the city! The question of town or country? Is the grass always greener on the other side? For me personally, its country!

  17. Katie Moffat says:

    This is a subject very close to my heart. Up until about 3 years ago we lived in Manchester but then we moved to rural Mid-Wales – quite a change! I have to be honest and say that at first I really struggled. I still miss the life of the city, I miss shallow things like cafes, restaurants, shops etc but the life the kids have now is amazing, so much freedom to roam around, tons of space. I have an eight year old and three year old and they love it. However I do wonder what they will think when they get older, being a teenager and stuck in the country is not always the best combination. It may be that once they do get older we move slightly nearer a town but for now it’s a very good life.

  18. Mumra says:

    My partner and i both grew up in a small village on the south coast, beaches to play on and freedom to play out granted. When we found out i was pregnant we were living in London and decided to move back to the south to be near family while i was on maternity leave. He commutes to work 3 hrs of his day. We are now split on what to do next….he wants to bring our daughter up in a cultural environment with opportunites all around her. He hates the idea of cider drinking outside the fish and chip shop teenagers that flood the streets of the rural towns where there is nothing else to do. I worry that the kids still do this in London they just have knives too, and that i will be the one travelling tubes for hours to partake in said opportunites! However i can earn over twice my wage in London allowing us holidays and nice things…The discussion continues at our house…….

  19. PippaD @ A Mothers Ramblings says:

    I’m Hannah Montana. No this isn’t some odd delusion of mine but I have "…the best of both Worlds…" because of where we live. Here in Milton Keynes I am close enough to a city/large town (will be classified as a city soon honest Gov’) that I am part of the Museum, theatre, art gallery, coffee shops, restaurants, chain stores, boutique, specialist shops set but also I am right on the boundary of the Country side, with fields and farms and downs and lakes and everything that you associate with the country. We often travel into London (and have been known to go to citys up North too) and are often found at the Seaside because they are all so close for us… in fact there is a blog post about why I love where I live going up today over at mine!

  20. Catherine Cooper says:

    I moved from London last year to live in the sticks in France and have to say I love it as do the kids. We get to swim and ski etc and have much more space and life is less stressful. But there’s loads about London I miss – I think there are advantages to both but I wouldn’t want to move back now.


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