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Here are the stories of five ambitious women who left the frenetic streets of New York City and headed to the suburbs, in search of new and better lives for themselves and their families.
New York City has always been the symbol of ambition and success. Famously labeled as the “City That Never Sleeps,” it’s the place where dreams are born into existence. However, when it comes to life-altering decisions, like starting a family, the city has lost some of its luster, particularly for women. According to a study done by Branded Research, 14.5% of Millennial women (age 25-40) and 13.7% of Gen Z women (age 18-24) in the U.S. have moved from the city to the suburbs within the past year — numbers that continue to rise. Yet, what compels ambitious women in New York City to leave? And how do they adjust from the busy city stress to the more peaceful suburbs? We asked a handful of former city women who now reside in Westchester County about their experiences and why leaving the city was the right choice for them.
Lauren Tetenbaum Dorman Social Worker and Lawyer, Scarsdale
As a born-and-raised city kid, Lauren Tetenbaum Dorman was no newbie to the concrete jungle. She’s lived in a variety of cities, including Philadelphia, London, Rome, and New York. After attending college at the University of Pennsylvania, she returned to Manhattan to study law and social work, while living near Union Square. Yet, as the years passed, she felt something was missing. “I had a wonderful childhood and have always been proud to be a New Yorker, but once I had kids myself, I began seeking a sense of community I wasn’t feeling in the big city.” She and her husband began looking for homes in Westchester for fun when their son was an infant but became serious when their daughter was born. The family relocated in March of 2020 — right at the U.S. outbreak of the pandemic. After months of adjusting, her family began to feel at home, and Tetenbaum Dorman found the sense of community she sought for her and her family. “The friends we have made here, especially given the way we bonded during the pandemic, have certainly helped me and my family acclimate to suburban life. We’ve made such wonderful connections through the mom support groups I facilitate, our town’s weekend sports for the kids, the tennis program for adults, the community pool, and many other opportunities. I recently joined the board of the Scarsdale League of Women Voters. I love living in Westchester because our town is tight-knit, with lovely traditions yet also diverse and with so much to offer. We feel very fortunate.”
“Once I had kids myself, I began seeking a sense of community I wasn’t feeling in the big city.”
Anayeli Flores Accountant, White Plains
Anayeli Flores grew up in White Plains. As a young girl, she always wanted to experience life in the big city. She attended Hunter College in 2009 and lived in Astoria from 2015 to 2016. However, when it came time to start a family, there were two important considerations: a good school and being closer to her family in Westchester. While working as a babysitter on the Upper East Side, Flores had a firsthand look at the anxiety and stress city parents experience because of their kids: “I babysat for this one family where the parents were going through the preschool interview process and freaking out about getting their 3-year-old into the perfect one,” says Flores. “Living in White Plains, I’m not worried which school my daughters [eventually] gets into because the public elementary schools are amazing.” For now, she takes her three daughters to the YMCA daycare program and says they love it. Flores’ decision to raise her family in her hometown was a no-brainer, and according to her, “the best decision I’ve made.” She adds, “Once you have a kid, you do need a village, and I’m lucky to have a large extended family here in White Plains.”
Safer, Family-Friendly Environment
Melanie Frazza Social Media Manager, Tarrytown
Melanie Frazza has always been something of a nomad. A proud explorer, she’s lived in New York, Philadelphia, and Rome, among other cities. Traveling the world is important to Frazza, especially experiencing Italy, where her family is from, in a more in-depth way. lifestyle, but once she chose to start a family, she was certain of one thing: “Living on the Upper East Side, in our small apartment, we didn’t want to start a family there.” Luckily, the suburban lifestyle was not foreign to her, as she and her partner have family in Hawthorne. They would visit often, and Frazza slowly started to see just how different life is, compared with the hectic streets of the city. “We loved visiting family when we were in the city; it was always our break from the stress. So, when we moved back to New York from Rome, we decided to look for a home in Westchester and raise our family there.” They found it in Tarrytown, where they currently reside with their two-year-old daughter. Although she won’t be traveling back to Rome anytime soon, Frazza does explore all the amazing local events in the walkable Westchester village. “The best part about living here is all the fairs and events that happen year-round: going to the Tarrytown Music Hall for a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show, to Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, and to The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze every Halloween. It’s so beautiful here!” says Frazza, who continues to have life adventures, with her family by her side.
Best of Both Worlds
Kathy Stivaletti Associate Vice President, Hawthorne
Kathy Stivaletti is a native Bronxite. The thought of leaving never entered her mind until she and her husband decided to look for a home. They quickly realized that their options in the city were pretty thin: “I’ve lived in the Bronx my entire life, but when I was looking to buy a home, it was difficult,” says Stivaletti. “We weren’t getting a lot of property for the money we were willing to spend. I realized that if we moved up [to the suburbs], we would get more bang for our buck.” The decision to move away from the city wasn’t an easy one. Not only would it mean leaving nearby family, she was also worried about adapting to suburban life after having been being born and raised in the city. Would it be too much of a culture shock for me? she remembers thinking. Once she moved to Hawthorne with her husband and two sons, Stivaletti realized her worries were unfounded. She slowly began to find her tribe of mom friends and learned the tips and tricks of the burbs — like where to find the best products and kid-friendly restaurants (Hello, Thornwood Diner and Silvio’s Pizza!). She says living in Hawthorne is the best of both worlds: “We lived in an apartment building when my husband and I first got married, and we had no outdoor space or designated parking. Now we live in a super-quiet neighborhood, and I love sitting in the backyard and having a barbecue, because we didn’t have that luxury in the apartment. I’m still a close-enough drive to the Bronx that I can get my fix of all the food I love and pick up products from my favorite stores.” Even better, her boys found their way to the Bronx after being raised in the burbs — one graduated from Fordham University in May 2021 and the other attends SUNY Maritime College.
The Fresh Start
Nicole Lake Stay-at-home mom, Greenburgh
Nicole Lake lived in the Bronx with a dream of having her very own home. After years of living in rental apartments in the city with her husband and two girls, her family decided to brave the unknown and move to Greenburgh. They arrived in June 2020, shortly after the CDC restrictions began to lessen. “This is new to both my husband and me; we never lived in the suburbs. We both grew up in Washington Heights.” Lake always felt a strong kinship to New York City, as if it were a third parent. While living in the Bronx as an adult, she excelled in the medical field, as a patient representative. After giving birth to her second child, in April of 2020 (she also has a 9-year-old), Lake decided to become a stay-at-home mom. With her dream of being a homeowner having coming true in June, Lake could feel the start of a brand-new stage for her family: “I enjoy living both in the city and in the suburbs, but with age, I now prefer a quiet environment. I still visit the city every other week, to see my father, which allows my girls to be open to both the city and suburban lifestyles.” Lake also loves knowing that she will raise her girls in a safer setting and enjoys watching them play in their first backyard.
“With age, I now prefer a quiet environment.”