The debate: Are cities better for raising kids than the country?

Two parents face off on the topic of the best place to raise your kids — the city or the country.

By Lori Kittelberg
The debate: Are cities better for raising kids than the country?

Photo: Geber86/iStockphoto

"Yes, cities are better for raising kids" Lori Kittelberg, mom of one

Once upon a time, my husband and I were carefree DINKs (dual income, no kids). We moved to Vancouver’s West End from Ottawa in 1999, and found a one-bedroom rental that was walking distance to everything that mattered: live music, bars, restaurants and the beach.

By the time we started our family seven years later, we upgraded to a two-bedroom apartment. ( This was before rents skyrocketed.) But we wondered whether urban living would suit our new normal. With a baby, we knew nightlife would no longer play as big a part in our lives. There were no other children in our building back then, and neither of us knew a soul who had grown up in the ci ty. (I’m from the suburbs; my husband was raised in a small town.)

Lo and behold, we’re still here. Our now six-year-old son has friends from Chile and Japan, and understands what the rainbow flag symbolizes. He knows more people than my husband and I combined, too. Today, we’re closer to our neighbours — even the lady upstairs who once remarked that we should move our young family to the ’burbs. We lack space, but our neighbourhood has plenty of other good qualities.

We live steps away from everything we need, not to mention Stanley Park, one of the biggest urban parks in the world. We do sacrifice things like a car, which we couldn’t live without if we were in the country or suburbs. But we save money and sani ty by not having to deal with parking, gas, upkeep or commutes. Another perk of ci ty living? If there’s an emergency, 9-1-1 responds pret ty darn fast. ( This has been tested; our boy likes to climb.)

Best of all, we have found an incredible sense of communi ty. In a city like Vancouver — full of newcomers — parents depend on each other for friendship and the kind of support they would normally get from extended family. A few months ago, we rang in the New Year at a friend’s house packed with 25 ci ty kids and their parents. I looked around the par ty in awe. That night proved to me that, yes, my family belongs in the ci ty.

"No, cities are not better for raising kids than the country" Kerrie Lee Brown, mom of two

Growing up, I never dreamed of a big wedding, a perfect house with a white-picket fence, and a couple kids running around the yard. In fact, the idea of me being a country mom — working the land and settling far from the action — seemed like a cruel joke.


But several years into the stressful ci ty-slicker life and what I thought was my dream job, I met my future husband, Craig, and poof! My life turned upside down, with a short engagement, island wedding and — 10 years later — two beautiful boys and a property in the country. My priorities have changed completely, and guess what? I’m happier than ever.

Craig and I both grew up in small towns in Ontario, and we loved being able to walk down the street to the local store or pub, where we’d run into generations of people we knew. We also liked not having to lock our doors. It was safe and comforting. So, when it came time to decide where we’d raise our children, the country was a no-brainer.

Until our first son was three years old, we lived an hour outside the ci ty in a heritage-style home we wouldn’t have been able to a fford in Toronto. Then, a fter our second son was born, we o fficially became country folk and literally bought the farm — 53 acres, to be exact.

Our very active boys have fresh air and tons of room to explore without having to watch for tra ffic or strangers. The kids enjoy campfires a fter school, play hide-and-seek in the forest for hours, and skate on our ponds in the winter. We have a varie ty of wildlife right in our backyard. And at Christmas, we simply walk outside to cut down our own tree.

It’s so quiet, we don’t worry about the neighbours when we ride our dirt bikes or throw a par ty. We heat our home with wood (a natural resource), and drink water from our well. My husband and I never have to fight for parking downtown.


Yes, I have a two-hour commute into the ci ty for work. But every day I look forward to coming home to the country, where I take in the scenery and watch my kids play, knowing they’re living the healthiest life we can give them.

This article was originally published on Mar 20, 2013

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