10 things we love {and don’t love} about living in boston

one year ago today July 8th, 2011 – our life in Boston began! It’s crazy how fast the time has passed. we get asked all the time if we are liking it here – and yes. we are definitely liking our life in Boston. however, i will say – i think husband, the kids and I could live anywhere and enjoy our experiences. really. it’s in our blood/lifestyle to be optimistic.

First and foremost, can I say I LOVE google maps on my iPhone and i have no idea how we all survived pre-GPS-technology. It has saved me this year.

With that said, here are 10 things we love {and don’t love} about living in Boston:

1. home to the Red Sox – my girls and I recently had a night out in the rain, and we still had a great time. I wish I could explain to you what it’s like to spend time at fenway. maybe you think our family is crazy, but this is one of our happiest places on earth. {equally annoying: the Sox’s hot and cold streaks. and, my husbands determination to see EVERY game especially when he has a sportsbook bet on them.}

2. Everything in the U.S.A. happened here first. seriously. We are living in the birthplace of America’s history – we went to Salem at Halloween, Plymouth at Thanksgiving {on Thanksgiving we also attended our local h.s. football game which has the longest-standing-h.s.-rivalry vs the town next to us!}, attended the parade in South Boston on St. Patrick’s Day, and just had our first fourth of july in new england + more! i love the experiences our kids are having between living amongst the history, and diversity this city offers. {equally annoying: the Bostonians who think they are personally the center of the universe. yes, Boston is known as the hub of the universe – however, some of the locals need to realize they are not!}

3. the emphasis on education is inspiring. people are well-trained-educated for their jobs and careers. when kj attended red sox baseball camp last summer i thought all the guys that were counselors were high school baseball kids. nope. come to find out, they were all college grads in-between school and career. {equally annoying is the emphasis on not missing school & not being tardy to school, we’re still trying to improve in this area. A few months ago, Sela’s preschool asked me to either make sure she was on time, or to keep her home for the day if she was going to be late! i thought i was the one paying for preschool & didn’t realize it was so important for four year olds to be on time!?!}

4. the Flora. the lush vegetation. the rolling hills. {equally annoying – the rain and humidity that keep it this way!} – on a side note, all of us have better/healthier/moisturized {wavy/curly} hair here.

5. the self-confidence women have in this area to not wear makeup. there is a sincere appreciation for natural beauty. i absolutely love that my teenage daughter stopped wearing makeup instantly after we moved here. none of her local friends wear makeup or fuss too much over their hair and i adore their choice to spend more time focused on other things. {the downside: i’ve become extremely lazy the past year with taking care of my hair & make up. most often i shower’n go, and because i like the creative process of getting ready – i am trying to find a balance.}

6. tradition. new englanders like tradition whether it’s ralph lauren or summers on the cape – they don’t plan on changing with the times. what i like about this? our kids are learning really good manners. the dying custom of a formal dinner party {i feel like the “potluck” replaced dinner parties out west!} including table settings, a few courses and good conversation is alive and well in new england. you can’t own too many navy and white striped shirts, and a good pair of topsider’s will last you years here. {equally annoying: we’re still trying to find a crowd who appreciates our flat-brim hats, baggy shorts, with the occasional “dude. that’s awesome!” slipped into the conversation.}

7. our neighborhood is a mini village. i like that we can walk to the local market, walk to the coffee shop, walk to get pedicures, walk to the park, walk to our kids’ schools, kj can walk to baseball practice. our kiddos have days they get out of school early & they hang out around town with their friends – it’s a very urban feeling. {the challenge: when i decide to leave our mini village to go to costco, target, etc – it can take all day{s} to run a few errands.}

8. Due to tradition and the mini village, our suburb {and all of Boston} shuts down early. by 6pm most shops and stores close. we have one grocery store that stays open till 10pm. so, for someone like me {night owl!} who might have one of my children remember they need something at 10:30pm for the next day – or if i’m working on a late night project and need more supplies? printer ink? too late. I can’t even drive an hour to go somewhere else – there is no 24 hour walmart in massachussetts! during the winter months, if you drive through our neighborhood we are one of the only houses totally lit-up still at 10pm! {absurd!} the perk: we go to bed instead of staying up late to get more done, and i’ve learned to stock-up on poster boards for last minute school projects.

9. stellar sense of community. we live in “pleasantville USA” – truly, one of the top suburbs of America. there is an out-pouring of community support for new families in the area, and mothers. when we arrived last summer i was instantly told about the mother’s forum, an online group to get you involved with other mothers who have kids the same age as you. It includes free activities, play dates, coffee socials, and information about every event around town. insta-friends. it’s extremely organized. if i wanted to, i could choose to do at least five events a day with our kids. there is no shortage of options. Most people living in the area are coming and going with their education/careers so the organization submerses newbies in the local culture. {the only downside of my mothering-experience here: i’m very young compared to most mothers here, people love to comment daily on how old i must have been when i had kiana! i am probably the only mother with a high schooler, and a five year old with a couple more kids in-between. most families have 1-3 kids very close in age. also, most families have 12-24 hour nanny care, and because of these details i fail on a daily basis in “new england motherhood standards” simply because i can’t keep up with 1:1 child/adult ratio childcare. for example, i am late to pick up my kids from school or activities regularly because maybe sela needs to stop and go to the bathroom. if practice ends at 5:30, and i show up at 5:32 every kid has been picked up except mine. it’s incredible. or, i can’t make it to PTO meetings because they are at 8am, and i’m still getting two more kids to school at that time. then, people make open comments about such things, because they are honestly NEVER late, and go to EVERY meeting. lets just say it’s a good thing i am confident in my mothering skills or the daily epic fails could really beat up my self-esteem.}

10. and, last but not least! i adore how health conscience Boston is as a city. It’s taken some getting used to, but we are adjusting. {and i thought we were a healthy family before!} until our road trip this past weekend our family hadn’t eaten at mcdonald’s in almost a year! they are just few and far between mostly at rest stops here in new england. our suburb has very very few fast food restaurants. don’t fear – we have Dunkin Donuts! {for the coffee, not the food!} there is a state-wide focus on raising healthy children, and maintaining good health. i’ve never known a community that focuses so much energy on personal exercise and fresh, good food. I go to barre or yoga class, and as i look around i am in awe of how great every woman looks! Birthdays are not celebrated at school {so, no treats.}, community sports don’t involve signing up for treats or snacks at half time and after the game, holidays are not celebrated at school {so, no extra treats!}, every town has a whole foods. The schools encourage {actually monitor!} the lunches brought from home. {the downside: we really miss some of our healthier-fast food options like Cafe Rio, Zupas, and i’d like my kids to have a little more balance to their childhoods. some treats.}

do you have any similar experiences with new england? i’d love to hear!

here’s to another year in Boston {or 2, or 3}, we hope more friends & family come visit while we’re here! xo.

14 responses to “10 things we love {and don’t love} about living in boston

  1. How fabulous, Jane! I loved reading this post! Boston seems amazing! I’m a little shocked that no holidays are celebrated at school though!

  2. hi jane,
    although i haven’t lived in boston (i moved from slc to washington, DC in 2005 then to vienna, austria in 2010) i can relate to points 3, 5, 6, and 10.

    when i moved to DC i was floored by how smart, credentialed, and pedigreed every one was (or seemed to be?). i’m not sure if it was simply because DC is the capital of the country and thus naturally appeals to smart and ambitious people, nevertheless, the atmosphere was both humbling and inspiring. on the flip side, though, i think the high level of success and educational achievement characteristic of DC, boston, NYC, etc. fosters a hyper-competitive school environment and obsession with getting into a top tier university that i had a hard time relating to.

    your comment about women foregoing make-up was one of the first things i noticed (and loved) when i moved to DC. perhaps it is because the women have spent the better part of their lives preoccupied with more important things, like school and career?

    in regards to ‘tradition’, i also agree. perhaps the dinner party is an extension of the focus on good food, good conversation, and close friends?

    as for health consciousness, perhaps it isn’t all that surprising given how much effort people put into everything else in their lives, i.e. school, career, family?? this, however, is all relative: here in vienna, the focus on good healthy food and living is something to behold. astonishing, really.

    and with that, here’s to continuing to thrive and enjoy living on the east coast!

  3. Spot. On. As usual you have a flair for pinpointing the things that I notice, but can’t quite put my finger on. Love ya!

  4. I think the differences you point out are really all common among coastal communities. Living in Southern California, we are a very health conscious community, as you can imagine, we really don’t cover up much because of the weather, so we have no choice but to look/be healthy. My kids have actually never eaten at a McDonald’s, not once in their lives! I think the midwest, which is where my husband is from, doesn’t put the same emphasis on healthy choices and foods. Probably because a lot of fresh foods aren’t readily available there. Education here too is really important, tardies are a no no and absences are really frowned upon. No planned vacations during the school year at all! Which was an adjustment for my husband too when he moved to CA. School was school and there was no other alternatives to education. No charter schools, no local private schools. You just went where you lived and that was that. As far as sweets, I was really surprised when reading your blog at all the krispy kreme and cupcakes celebrations you had for your kids’ classes. If we walked into my kids’ school with cupcakes we’d be asked to leave, along with the cupcakes! 🙂 Sweets are against the rules, even in our kids’ lunches we can’t pack them treats or cookies. But I love it. I think sugar is the problem with our country. But it doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the occasional ice cream sundae or gelato, or homemade cookies. I think it’s so nice you expose your kids to a new ‘culture’/experience by living in another part of the country. We think about moving out of the country a lot to give our family a new perspective. Wow, this was long! Didn’t mean to ramble!

  5. I loved your post Jane! I can completely picture everything you are talking about. I am fascinated by how other places function and how other people live and the cultural differences from place to place. I appreciate you always sharing your adventure and the life lessons you are learning with all of us.

  6. I’ve lived in MA my whole life, so it’s fun reading what you think about it! I definitely agree with most of your list – Boston is a great place to live. But I will have to politely disagree about being tardy. I think being on time is part of having good manners; it shows that you think it the event, whether it is school, a party, etc., is important to you and you made it a priority to be there. Plus, who wants to be the last one to get to anywhere? It’s definitely awkward to have all eyes on you as you stroll in 15 minutes late. Also, don’t feel bad about not meeting mothering standards of your area! The farther you get into the city, the less it is like that. Not one person I know has a nanny or full-time babysitter! I loved your post, and it’s fun to here about your new adventure.

    BTW, there’s a 24-hour Walmart in Raynham, MA. (:

  7. Wow, the town sounds really nice and modern, except for the whole school treat thing. Kids still need some fun at school. That shocks me that they don’t celebrate holidays or even the child’s birthdays. They must be pretty strict.

  8. This was a very interesting post, Jane! I really enjoying reading about the ups and downs. I’m glad you are having good time and hope the move is going well also. 🙂

  9. Love this post Jane! We also live right near you (next town over, I think) and also appreciate the feel of the small town community. We loved walking to the high school for our local fireworks and just being enveloped by our fellow town members as the sky grew darker. I can relate to your “mommy” moments- I seem to also be a “young mom” at 31! When I see another woman at the playground who I think might be my age, it always turns out to be the nanny, which has made making other mom friends a bit tough. But since moving from Boston proper (Prudential Center), we have really enjoyed having space, neighbors and being part of a sweet and small community.

  10. Dear Jane,
    I just discovered your blog through Boston Mamas.

    I grew up in Boston and Newton. Seeing the area through your eyes is lovely.I’m already taking tips from you, your sunglass case, power bars and proteing shake brands. I’m a “dance mom” in Worcester! My neighborhood reminds me of Wellesley, but stuffy Massachusetts natives would raise eyes at that statement.
    May you enjoy another year here in New England I look forward to following your talent.
    Fondly,
    Kathryn

  11. I enjoyed reading this post. It’s fascinating how different cultures can be just within the U.S. With my husband’s job we might have the chance to move to Boston (which I would love!) in the future so this post was great to read. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I love how you candidly tell us the annoying with the magical. That’s how it is no matter where we go and it’s fun to get into the details of Boston. Your family would thrive anywhere-it’s true. Love your adventuresome spirit! So sad I missed you in Utah last week (Er-2 weeks ago)-it would have been great to get some Jane time. Loves and hugs!

  13. Great post!

    6 – You will find less of that stuffiness in less affluent towns, though of course you would also lose that small town/village feel.

    8 – heh, so true – I have found myself at the 24 hour CVS more times than I can count… I have a list of late night restaurants to frequent as well…

    9 – Funny that you compare yourself and feel like you are falling short of the “motherhood standards”, I read your blog, and honestly find it hard to believe… You seem incredibly focused on your kids happiness and well being… You go above and beyond!

  14. This was such a great post. I grew up in MN, but I have lived in the Boston area since 2003. It’s been hard to articulate exactly what makes New England different than the midwest, but this summed it up really well.

    I’m new around your blog, but I am enjoying catching up on your life these days!

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