Tips for Living Downtown With a Young Child

It’s been about a year since we moved our then family of three from downtown Cleveland to the suburbs. And while I love how family-friendly our neighborhood is in the ‘burbs, there are so many things I miss about living downtown. When we announced we were expecting, one of the first things people often asked was if we were leaving downtown Cleveland. Many people could not fathom how we could live downtown and have kids. Well, we not only made it work but we LOVED it! If you’re thinking of moving downtown or living downtown with babies or young kids, here are some tips.

1) Find a child-friendly place to live

When I lived downtown, there weren’t many self-proclaimed “child-friendly apartments.” That being said, we made our place child-friendly — we were lucky enough to have a 2-bedroom apartment in a relatively quiet downtown neighborhood before we even brought our son home from the hospital. Some other things to look for in a place to live include:

  • Working elevators — Can you survive with a walk-up apartment? Absolutely; people do it. But you’ll be happy you have an elevator when you’re lugging a stroller and groceries (and diapers!).
  • Lowish level — Bonus points if you’re not too high up in case said elevator breaks down (it’s bound to happen sometime!).
  • In-unit washer/dryer — Kids make a lot of laundry at all hours of the day. Depending on their age, there is spit up, diaper blowouts, other bodily fluids, finger foods, etc. Having an in-unit washer and dryer will make your life so much easier.
  • Close parking — In my apartment, we parked across the street, and sometimes that seemed far — especially in Cleveland winters! When you’re carrying a carseat (and aforementioned diapers and groceries), it will be really nice to have a parking spot that is close to your destination.
  • Thick walls — In our first apartment that we lived (sans baby), one of the interior walls was so thin, you could hear every single conversation that the couple next to us was having. This is NOT something you want when you have kids. You’ll not only be paranoid that your baby’s crying is bothering your neighbors, but you’ll worry that every little sound will wake him/her up.
  • Bonus: Friendly management — Yes, this is important whether or not you have kids, but I personally found myself needing to talk to building management after having kids. Have your parents visiting and need an extra key? Diaper delivery running late and you need to get into the office to retrieve it ASAP? Need to park in a special spot for a day or so as you’re recovering from giving birth? Having an understanding building management — as well as one that loves kids — is a plus.

2) Get used to living with less

Babies and kids themselves don’t take up a lot of space. But there’s so so much stuff that they often come with – bouncers, endless diapers, changing tables, cribs, bassinets, playpens, bottles, etc. Since we had such a small place, we only registered and purchased the essentials. What does that mean? Our baby’s bedroom had a crib and a comfy chair (that had previously been in our living room). We did not have room for the traditional dresser or changing table. So instead, my husband made some drawers that would fit underneath the crib. He also built a changing table that would open up and close back into the wall. We didn’t have a bouncer or many toys. And, it worked out! Most of the time, we simply told family and friends to not get us stuff outside the essentials, and instead donate to our son’s education fund.

3) Be prepared to leave downtown for some necessities

One of the best things about living downtown is being able to walk everywhere — the grocery store (hooray for the downtown Heinen’s!), the mall (GREAT for AC in the summer and warmth in the winter), restaurants, entertainment like a splash pad, etc. But, while living downtown Cleveland is great, it does lack some essentials that you’ll need more of as you have kids. So, be ready to hop in a car and leave downtown for some things. For example, we found great childcare just outside downtown, in Tremont. Our pediatrician was in Lakewood. And, the urgent care that was walking distance from our apartment was unable to see babies, so we needed to seek emergency care elsewhere. Also, I love running with the stroller, but I found many of the sidewalks downtown a little bumpy for running with a baby. So, I typically headed to the Metroparks or Towpath when seeking a longer stroller run.

Some questions for you:

  • When you had kids, did you move? Or if you are thinking of having kids – would you move?
  • Have you lived in a major city with a child or baby?

Please note: I’m now blogging with Northeast Ohio Parent magazine! And, the original version of this post was on their site.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Living Downtown With a Young Child

  1. It’s funny how here it seems like a big deal to be downtown or in the burbs but in other areas city living with children is normal. I have a mom friend in NYC and she has regaled me with many stories of going up 4 flights of stairs with the baby and groceries, newborn screaming that almost made neighbors call the cops and subway disasters.

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