Author Topic: Stay in home walkable to urban ctr/rail, or move walkable to elem school & pool?  (Read 1074 times)

CloserToFree

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All, I'm looking for advice on whether to stay in our current house or move a very short distance to be closer to our kids' future elementary school and pool. Here's the situation.

We have a 4yo and a baby. The 4yo will start elementary school (kindergarten) in 2 years, when he's about to turn 6. The baby will start in 5 years.

CURRENT HOUSE
Our current house is a 12-15 minute walk to an urban center with shops, restaurants, cafes, 2 grocery stores, and (most importantly) a commuter rail station. We both commute via rail right now, 3 days a week (we each work from home the other 2 days). We live on the near side of a busy, fast-moving road (2 lanes in each direction) to this urban center, which is nice bc we don't need to cross the busy road to walk into "town." There's a lot of cut-through traffic in our neighborhood; we can't let our older son play in our driveway without one of us being right there, bc he might run out into the street, which gets a lot of cars speeding or rolling through the stop sign at our corner. We are 2 blocks from a nice little park and playground area with equipment for toddlers as well as elementary school aged kids.

The main downside to our current house's location is that both our local elementary school as well as our local community pool (which we should get into next summer) are located across the big busy road. Which means that even as our kids get older and more independent (up to age 10 or so), we won't be comfortable with them walking to the school or the pool without an adult accompanying them. So they would probably take the bus to school (it stops right outside our current house) unless one of us could walk them the 15 minutes or so each way to/from school (or the pool).

As we look toward this next phase of our life -- having elementary aged kids who could walk to/from the school or pool by themselves provided the route was relatively safe -- we're considering moving across that busy road so we can be in the quieter, safer neighborhood adjacent to both the school and the pool.

NEW NEIGHBORHOOD PROS:
Would be 5 minute walk or less to both school and pool
School has huge playground and large athletic fields (which current playground doesn't have)
Roads are not thru-roads so streets are quieter and safer; some have sidewalks (which current hood does not have)
Closer to bike trail that leads downtown (cuts 5-10 minutes off bike commuting route)
Closer to library (makes it walking distance - 15-20 mins vs. 25-30 mins from current house)

NEW NEIGHBORHOOD CONS:
commuter rail becomes 20-25 min walk instead of 12-15 (and must cross busy road)
new hood would be equal distance from another grocery store, but route would be along the busy road instead of mostly through residential neighborhood
new hood is not considered quite as desirable as current hood (bc of distance from rail; houses are also a bit smaller, which doesn't bother us but bears on property values), but still is desirable

So what do you guys think -- given the ages of our kids, is it worth it to trade walkability to commuter rail/urban center (3x/week) for walkability to school (5x wk year round) and pool (5-7x/week in summer)? For this phase of our life, I tend to think yes, especially because the new neighborhood would incentivize us to bike commute more regularly, which helps counteract being farther away from the urban center and rail station. Would love to hear thoughts from anyone, especially if you've weighed similar considerations in making a move.

lhamo

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I would move closer to the school.  This incentivizes your kids walking to school daily and also you doing more bike commuting.  You do these things more often than walk to shops/restaurants, etc.  Walking distance to library is also a huge perk.

CloserToFree

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Thanks lhamo! I think that's what we're leaning toward, too.

cchrissyy

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I leaned toward moving right up until you said there is a school bus that would come to your house.
In that case, who cares about walkability to the school? the kids have the convenience of door-to-door service and the independence of the bus experience.

waltworks

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IMO kids being able to independently explore their world is really, really important. I'd move. You can always ride a bike to the train if the extra 10 minutes of walking bothers you, and you're capable (I assume) of crossing the busy road.

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remizidae

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Transit access plus grocery store outweighs school plus library. In my experience, no one goes to the pool as often as they think they will, especially since it's a seasonal thing. Also, once the kids get to be 10+, they ought to be fine crossing the road alone. And consider lobbying for a crossing guard or road accessibility improvements, since you're probably not the only ones with this problem.

I wouldn't move just for a few years of elementary school, but maybe if the rest of your kids' lives will be easier if you move.  Which one is closer to the middle school or high school you expect they'll attend?

Sibley

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While I think walking to school is good, before you make major plans based on that, you should confirm that your children will be allowed to walk unattended to school. I've heard of schools that don't permit that (which is stupid, but a different discussion).

nessness

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I would stay where you are - I don't think the pros of the new house outweigh the cons, especially when you factor in the cost of moving, which is not insignificant. Also, I would argue that kids who aren't old enough to cross a busy road by themselves also aren't old enough to go to the pool by themselves, so I don't think the pool should really factor into your decision.

Cranky

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I would, and did, walk my kids to school everyday. Uphill both ways! Pulling the baby in a sled!

If there had been a bus, they’d have been on it.

historienne

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I would stay.  When your kids are older, being walkable to an urban center is going to be more important than being walkable to the pool.  There's only a very short window of time during which they will be old enough to go to the pool by themselves, but not old enough to cross the busy road to get there.  The bus stops right at your house. 

I'd prefer your current setup, but in any case, the benefit would be marginal, and in no way worth the hassle and expense of moving.

cchrissyy

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Find out form the pool what age they allow kids to attend without their parent.  they might not allow it til 13, 16, maybe even 18 unless you're on the swim team.

I think you're imagining that if you lived right by the pool, the kids would walk themselves there in elementary age but realistically, that wouldn't happen. The swimming part wouldn't be safe and the pool probably requires parental supervision at least until they are teenagers.

Dee18

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The new principal at the elementary school my daughter attended many years ago instituted a “walking bus” program.  Neighbors are encouraged to get together with groups of 6-12 kids and take turns walking them to and from school.  If you stay where you are you might want to consider that.  Also, some parents where I live take their kids to school via bike, with younger kids being on trail-a-bikes so you don’t have to worry about them farting out in traffic. +1 historienne’s comment that st another age your kids will be better served by being where you are now.  Given all the factors, and transaction costs/work of moving, you might as well stay where you are if you like it. Oh, also, kids at the local elementary school are not allowed to play on school grounds after 3:00 unless they are enrolled in the after school program.

soccerluvof4

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I'd stay where you are. I thinking your giving up more than your getting in the big picture AND it costs money and is a hassle to move. I agree the pools wont be used as much as you think and really thats all thats in play here.

mm1970

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My first thought was MOVE, my second thought was DON'T.

So it really depends on your lifestyle.

For example, we wouldn't use the pool 5-7x a week in the summer.  We are lucky to go once/ week.  No, we can't walk. But mostly, we both work FT and when we get home we are tired.  So a trip to the pool is a big deal.  And your kids aren't going to go by themselves.

However, it would be useful to be closer to school, and further from a busy street.  That's one big regret of my current home, people use our street as a cut through, and they run the damn stop sign in front of my house.  That reminds me I need to go put out my little warning sign because it's Halloween.

frugal rph

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Having the bus stop right at your house is wonderful.  If the little one is asleep no need to wake him up to go drop off or pick up the older one from school. However I think the busy street where you currently live is a big negative. I think it's a toss up.

Hirondelle

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Transit access plus grocery store outweighs school plus library. In my experience, no one goes to the pool as often as they think they will, especially since it's a seasonal thing. Also, once the kids get to be 10+, they ought to be fine crossing the road alone. And consider lobbying for a crossing guard or road accessibility improvements, since you're probably not the only ones with this problem.

I wouldn't move just for a few years of elementary school, but maybe if the rest of your kids' lives will be easier if you move.  Which one is closer to the middle school or high school you expect they'll attend?

This ^^

Then you don't have to move and basically can have it all.

fuzzy math

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Stay. You are deluding yourself that children who are too young to safely cross a road can safely swim without a parent nearby. With your kids ages, it'll be 10 years before the youngest can go without an adult, and your oldest will be a teenager. They'll be able to manage fine. When you have a 10 and 6 yr old, your 6 yr old is going to cry if the 10 yr old is going to the pool by himself, thereby forcing you to go to and take them both.

You are the adults here and your lives are convenient to the things that matter to you. You'd give that all up assuming your kids would even want to walk? The bus is a godsend! It saves you from having to drive every time a kid has to haul something to school that's inconvenient to walk with. Snow or rain? Kids probably aren't going to walk (or they'll show up to school cold and soaked and you'll get a call to bring them extra clothes) and now you get to drive them and pick them up. Read the mr money mustache post on the foolishness of people wasting gas in the school pick up line. It adds up quickly, even if you park at the school and walk up to the door to get your kiddo. We choose certain days to walk but it's when our schedules allow and the kids are up for it.

Your kids are 4 years apart. That means 4 grades apart. So when your oldest is a 3rd grader, you'll have a kindergartner. I have never seen kindergarteners walking without an adult. It's not reasonable to ask a 3rd grader to be responsible for a kindergartner. So there will be 2-3 years (depending on your school structure) where they will be able to walk together without you. Then you're back to having a very small child on their own walking, which is very socially frowned upon. There are lots of instances of people calling the police on small kids being out on their own. It sucks but it's reality.

Under this new scenario you're walking the kids, then you've got to walk back to your house, then get yourself ready for your work commute which you've made a lot harder by moving away from the commuter station. It doesn't sound like a win to me.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2018, 08:45:40 AM by fuzzy math »

Sibley

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Stay. You are deluding yourself that children who are too young to safely cross a road can safely swim without a parent nearby. With your kids ages, it'll be 10 years before the youngest can go without an adult, and your oldest will be a teenager. They'll be able to manage fine. When you have a 10 and 6 yr old, your 6 yr old is going to cry if the 10 yr old is going to the pool by himself, thereby forcing you to go to and take them both.

You are the adults here and your lives are convenient to the things that matter to you. You'd give that all up assuming your kids would even want to walk? The bus is a godsend! It saves you from having to drive every time a kid has to haul something to school that's inconvenient to walk with. Snow or rain? Kids probably aren't going to walk (or they'll show up to school cold and soaked and you'll get a call to bring them extra clothes) and now you get to drive them and pick them up. Read the mr money mustache post on the foolishness of people wasting gas in the school pick up line. It adds up quickly, even if you park at the school and walk up to the door to get your kiddo. We choose certain days to walk but it's when our schedules allow and the kids are up for it.

Your kids are 4 years apart. That means 4 grades apart. So when your oldest is a 3rd grader, you'll have a kindergartner. I have never seen kindergarteners walking without an adult. It's not reasonable to ask a 3rd grader to be responsible for a kindergartner. So there will be 2-3 years (depending on your school structure) where they will be able to walk together without you. Then you're back to having a very small child on their own walking, which is very socially frowned upon. There are lots of instances of people calling the police on small kids being out on their own. It sucks but it's reality.

Under this new scenario you're walking the kids, then you've got to walk back to your house, then get yourself ready for your work commute which you've made a lot harder by moving away from the commuter station. It doesn't sound like a win to me.

I will push back on the 3rd grader being responsible for the younger things. You are ascribing to the "AHHHH! WORLD IS DANGEROUS AND KIDS ARE INCAPABLE OF ANYTHING" world view. This is BS. For most of human history, children have been given, and have executed on, pretty significant responsibilities. Modern childrearing is really a new concept. Just because you haven't seen young children be taught, and required to do things at a more advanced level doesn't mean they aren't capable of it. Or why do you think child labor laws were necessary?

fuzzy math

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My current 3rd grader is not comfortable walking to school without a parent and certainly would freak out if we asked her to also be responsible for her 1st grade brother. Lots of kids aren't like her, but lots of kids are. We also had a strange man tell a 5th grader to get into his truck at the end of last school year. I consider it both safer for my kids and healthier for me to walk with them.

former player

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An extra 10 minutes walking to your commuter station, times 12 (two of you, three times a week in both directions) is 2 hours a week out of your lives.  Both of you working full time and with two young children? You do not have that time to waste.

fuzzy math has it right, too.  Save yourself the cost and hassle of moving: too many disadvantages and not enough advantages.   

Can you put gates across your driveway to make the garden safe for your children to play in?