I am a pretty big fan of Boston. I feel very lucky to have lived in a city for 16 years (a little more than half my life) that suits me so well.
I grew up in the Midwest and never really felt like I belonged, so to say that I feel at home here, that these are my people, is really a big thing. I love Boston because religion is not that big of a deal here.
I love Boston because we have four of the 20 most educated community spots in the country. I love living in a city that challenges me, where I feel like an underachiever with only a Master's degree.
I love Boston for stoic New Englanders who brave 2 feet of snow to go running or shopping, who never let hurricane-force winds keep them indoors or off Mount Washington. I love Boston for its proximity to great skiing, hiking, rock climbing and--above all--the ocean.
In short, I love, love, love my city.
But there are a few things I don't love.
The cost of living is chief among them. I love living in a community most people consider to be what Brooklyn is to Manhattan in NYC, but it is a very urban area. For our condo, we paid as much as some people pay for a whole house outside the Boston loop and what people in my Midwestern town would pay for a McMansion.
We will pay close to $40,000 a year if we want to send both our kids to full time pre-school. And no, I am not talking about fancy pre-schools (A small aside: I get pretty irritated when my childless friends tell me to look at other, cheaper, easier-to-get-into pre-schools as if there are any).
Everything in Boston is twice the price it is in other cities and while San Fran and NYC have us beat, there is almost no other city like us. Additionally, living in Boston you get to run into women like one I recently did (with a blog I won't name for fear of sending any more traffic her way) who can only talk about how rich she is, how many Marc Jacobs bags she has and her long days spent lounging at the Equinox clad in Lulu Lemon. Oh and also, Boston is full of prudes in pearls and sweater sets. It is not the place to take fashion risks.
So, we are considering our options. R had a good opportunity in Philly that seemed promising, but when faced with the possibility of actually leaving my beloved city, I balked. I always said I would only be willing to consider LA, NYC or San Fran as alternatives to Boston. I have loosened my standards somewhat and Philly seems like a great place, often compared to Boston with a much better cost of living, but many of the same amenities. Still, I would no longer have my sister nearby to babysit on a whim. I would not have my parents nearby for dinners and spontaneous day trips with Sam. I would not have access to the lake house or the skiing we can do there in the winter. Most of all I would not have the life I have spent almost two decades of my life building here.
When I moved to Boston back in 1993, I was scared and sad. I sobbed as we pulled away from our Ohio house. Now this is my home, in many ways more than Ohio ever was. I want my kids to grow up here in a place where our family's beliefs are the majority held opinion.
But I can't live like sardines in a house we overpaid for anymore. Something has to give. Stay tuned.