West Village

February 8th, 2024

Or another title for this post, can you live in the city and have a good lifestyle with a family?

Being from New Zealand, this is almost incomprehensible. Typically when kids come along, you go back to NZ. Because it’s so good!

And like any parents, as kids come along and grow you, you feel those pressures to the suburbs. For more of the outdoors. More space for less money. I wanted to share, what I share with friends, about living in the West Village or in the city with a family, in New York. I really love it. I love the feel, and the energy about it.

The first couple of things, schools are very close, sub 4 minutes if I speed walk. Within 10 minutes, there are at least 8 different playgrounds. And – so is the social group for their friends, you don’t need to organise get togethers with friends, because you’re going to bump into them. You still do but the bumping into friends factor is high.

And then there’s lots of events through the year:

  • The school organizes a Halloween Monster Mash. Bleecker Park (yay!) hosts a Halloween event, an Easter event and others through the year. With activities, magician, horse carriage rides (?!). And an organized trick or treat route.
  • Halloween itself is a buzz of activity, with a warmth and generosity around the neighborhood. Something foreign, compared to the idea or image of Halloween.
  • At Christmas there are tree lighting ceremonies, multiple. There are ice rinks, Chelsea Piers, Brookfield and last hear The Standard had one at the base.
  • Apple picking upstate! Or stomping the grapes. Skiing in winter (we don’t do enough of!)

New York (and the US) has a massive summer break, spanning 10 or so weeks. Which gives fantastic opportunity for travel, or these days, travel + remote work. To see friends & family.

Socially, I can catch up with friends all times/places.

  • Jump up early and we go for a run together, with a coffee afterwards. Go do a gym session.
  • Or even go out after the kids are asleep for a couple of drinks. Go to an event late, for work. And within 5 minutes you can be catching up with a friend, you might even only go out for an hour. It’s the ease of doing it, which means you end up doing it more.

That’s quite different to New Zealand where social events have to be more organized and any get together is a big one! In New York it’s more frequent smaller catch ups.

Food wise

  • There are lots of restaurants & bars nearby. All highly rated. And you easily find the ones you enjoy. Friends who have left said it’s the diversity of food that they miss.
  • But then, there is also a Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Target at USQ. In summer, the USQ food markets are on (but can be pricey). So you can shop high end organic, value and fresh from the farm.
  • There is a great local butcher, Pinos Prime Meats (cash only), Raffettos for fresh pasta, Puerto Rico Coffee company for wonderful coffee. Each a joy to stock up on. And that’s without even considering the coffee/cafes, Buvette, Elk, Merriweather (and almost anywhere else).
  • Joes Pizza for a slice, or pop into Murrays Cheese for a charcuterie top up. Recently I discovered Di’Paolos in Little Italy, for meats & cheeses. Also a delight.
  • The local wine shop, Seagrape, remember your name & make recommendations for whatever the occasion.
  • If you’re tired, or had a long day, or no sleep, food delivery is available. As well as groceries. This is a big level up, especially when the kids are younger.

The walking distance availability of food, at a mixture of prices/quality, so you can pick to suit is so good. You don’t feel stuck with just one place.

The geography also contributes to the energy, you are 2-4 blocks from the westside park i.e. the waterfront. Which only gets better year in year out. Last summer we even got our own beach?! But summer before was Little Island. And Pier 57. It’s a playground down on the water. Lovely for an evening (or morning) run with the sun. The Westside Hudson Park really is a gem.

On top of the low rise buildings, the streets where the trees overhang. Pre-covid riding down 7th, turning off onto 11th, you feel like the world has just got a bit slower, easing into the weekend.

Physically the houses & apartments are smaller in size and footprint, you will get more square footage elsewhere. But you will find it hard to get the same amenities just around the corner. At least I’ve struggled to beat it! I guess it has that European feeling but with access to New York (and US) benefits. Which is pretty hard to bottle or replicate elsewhere.

Mobility, most of my movements these days are jumping on a Citibike, to get around the city. Since I’ve been here, I’ve cycled over 6,000km! You can fallback to train, which is reliable (but admittedly not as good as pre covid). Commuting is fast for work, 15 minutes to the office, or 20 minutes to most meetings. Can’t complain there.

Car ownership wise, the cost to park (and insurance) does make owning a car a bit cost prohibitive. Or put another way I don’t really want to pay that premium, for the convenience. SilverCar used to be good but scaled back in New York, so do use Turo when need to. Owning a car would be a level up though.

Then airports, it’s not long to Newark, JFK and Laguardia are a bit further, but you do have three options.

And then of course, you have the playground that is New York! If anything interesting is happening anywhere, chances are it will come through New York. Music, arts, business, sports. You name it. When there’s a big trend happening, or field opening up, like AI is right now. You can be in the room and be part of the change. Which is wonderful.

That is all to say, living in the city ain’t bad, yep it’s not the same. But it is pretty good if you ask me.

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