Monday, April 7, 2014

Good-Bye DC - I'm Dumping You, and It's Not Me, It's You

So long, DC, and thanks for all the fish.

I mentioned a month ago, when I came back from my work-and-life imposed blogging break, that I had a major announcement that I'd be making relatively soon - well, that day has come.

DC, I'm breaking up with you. And sorry, but it's not me - it's you.

Now, stop throwing things at me and let me explain. It's not that I dislike you now, or that we haven't had lots of fun together these past 4 years. Back in 2010, when I graduated from grad school into a terrible economy, you were just about the only place in the country with a deep job market for educated people like me, thanks to the eternal demand created by the federal government - and for that, I'm thankful.

You're a lively, vibrant city with tons to offer young professionals like me - lots to see and do, an ever-improving restaurant and bar scene, music for all tastes and styles, tons of cultural activities, perhaps the most under-appreciated theatre scene in the entire United States, and much more.

But, I've grown and changed - and while you've changed, you haven't grown in the same way I have.

Let's be honest - you are a TERRIBLE place to try to raise a family. This is my biggest beef with you, and why I simply must break it off. You see, I now have this child that I have to care for, and she is a rather demanding little creature. Sure, you say that you have lots of parks and the like, but it's at least a 15 minute walk through your concrete jungle and lots of traffic if I want to put my daughter on a patch of grass to play. And though my job is relatively family friendly, the general work-addicted culture of DC isn't child-friendly. And everyone stares us at us like we're insane whenever we try to take our kid to any restaurant in DC - children generally aren't welcome in public in DC outside of parks and other kid-only designated spaces; at least, that's the way I feel.

And schools - we have a few years before this becomes central to our lives, but oh God, your schools, DC, where to even start. If I want to get the Babycrat into a good school in DC, I only have 4 options to do so, all of which suck:
  1. Move to the suburbs. This is what most people with kids do. There, I might be able to find a modest, small house with a small yard for around $350k that's in a good school district. The trade-off is that my new hour+ commute will make me want to kill myself daily.
  2. Spend $900k+ to buy a tiny house in a rich neighborhood in NW where there is a history of having good schools. Do you know how many houses I can buy for $900k in a little town in the Northeastern USA with some of the best schools in the country? 4. Big ones. 4 big houses, for the same price as a tiny house in NW DC.
  3. Spend $600k+ to buy a tiny/moderate sized house in NE DC in a neighborhood with a newly decent school, and hope and pray that my house isn't rezoned into the crappy school district a couple of blocks away.
  4. Spend $20k+ per year per kid on private school tuition.
Well, you know what, DC? That's beyond ridiculous - I'm not going to do it, so I'm out.

And I'm sick of your traffic. Good lord, your traffic - the worst in the entire USA, by some measures. And the congestion along my street has gotten noticeably worse in the past 4 years. I just can't take it anymore. Experts (and anyone with any common sense) say that the congestion is only going to get worse in the coming decades - well, I refuse to be around to see it.

Oh, and I hate the Comcast monopoly that you live under - you have an ultra-fast public Internet network - why not let the DC citizens enjoy the use of it?

Let's be honest, DC - ever since my daughter was born, the only thing keeping us together has been the fact that my job kept me anchored to you, like a medieval prisoner to his ball-and-chain. Recently, however, my job decided to let me become a full-time teleworker and choose where I'm going to live and work - so I'm taking them up on their offer and dumping you.

So, my family and I are off to live in Chattanooga, TN for a few years, while the Babycrat is still young, so she can spend much more time with her grandparents (and so her grandparents can help us out with raising her, and with raising any possible future children, should such children materialize). When the Babycrat needs to enter school (because, let's face it, Tennessee schools aren't much/any better than your schools, DC), then we'll likely set our sights on settling in Burlington, VT or somewhere outside Boston, where it's possible to buy a house in a district with world-class schools for less than $900k. Or perhaps we'll buy 4 houses, just for the hell of it.

I don't mean for this to sound unkind - you've been very good to us for the past 4 years, and I have greatly enjoyed (most of) the time we've spent together. I've grown up and matured, however, and you've just grown - and you're just demanding too many compromises of me (and too much money from me) for me to stick around.

But don't worry - I'll be back often enough, and I'm sure we'll stay friends.

(A note to my readers: even though I'll be leaving DC, this blog will soldier on, though perhaps at the more leisurely posting rate of late, rather than the 1-2 posts per day at the outset of the blog. I'm also happy to entertain guest posts, if you have a screed you want to share with my other readers.)