About a year ago, my parents came very close to signing on the dotted line for a plot of land in San Clemente to build a vacation home. But on their final visit to the mostly undeveloped cul-de-sac, they were met with a rather dark omen: a tricycle rolling down the street, complete screaming child.
My dad was in town on business last weekend so we took a drive down there to see how the neighborhood had developed. Every garage door was opened to reveal a mélange of primary-colored plastic vehicles, Fisher-Price basketball hoops, and Barbie Convertibles that cost more than Drew’s first car. We could barely get through the street with everyone’s mini-vans parked on both sides because their garages were filled to the brim with kiddie crap. It was a well-sketched version of my own personal hell. We drove off like a couple of PTSD victims crawling out of a battle zone. There was much talk of dodged bullets, narrow escapes.
My parents have officially switched their vacation home search to the strictly 55 and over communities. While not quite ready to fraternize exclusively with the elderly, they realized this was their only hope of not being woken every Saturday morning to the screams of someone being terrorized by a Super Soaker. And I had a little realization of my own…
Even if we don’t have kids, there’s nowhere to hide from everyone else’s.
Short of trying to weasel our way back into the college dorms, there’s really nowhere we can go without the threat of a noisy gaggle of kids moving in down the street. You can scope out the neighbors all you want before buying a house, but a For Sale sign could go up next door the moment you move in, and you have no control over what’s coming your way. That moving truck could be chock full of Big Wheels, Slip ‘N Slides and that faux vacuum cleaner with the popping plastic balls that can be heard from 8 light years away.
I do realize that I sound like a very crazy, very crabby “you kids get off my lawn!!!” old lady. But I don’t expect children to be seen and not heard. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t splash around in pools, go tearing down the street on their skateboards or run all over the neighborhood in a rousing game of Ghosts in the Graveyard. My brothers and I did all that stuff and more, and I’m grateful we lived in a place with big yards and lots of other kids around. But my parents moved there because they specifically wanted us to be in a family-friendly neighborhood.
Why can’t those looking for a family UN-friendly neighborhood have the same choices?
With 20% of women entering their mid-forties without having a baby, it seems there’d be quite a demand for Childfree neighborhoods. In fact, I’d pay a pretty hefty premium to live in such a place. I’d be willing to sacrifice square footage, yard size, upgraded fixtures, open floor plans and proximity to freeways, shopping and restaurants, in exchange for guaranteed Childfree neighbors.
I know people are going to say that there are places you can move to avoid kids, like really expensive apartments in the center of the city action, or houses in terrible school districts. But areas with terrible school districts tend to be, well, terrible, and if you want a house instead of an apartment or condo downtown, you’re pretty much out of luck. And the bottom line is that even those areas aren’t guaranteed to be childfree.
The Childfree neighborhood isn’t necessarily a perfect – or practical – idea.
Especially here in LA, there’s really only so much land, and new developments aren’t exactly popping up on a daily basis. But from time to time, they do. And can you imagine the glorious silence of a Childfree condo complex, or even just a no-kids-allowed street in a housing development?
My Dad and I jawed about this for a while and he brought up a good point: the 55+ thing works because these people are FOR SURE not having babies (except maybe the 70 year old man who brings in his 30 year old wife – we WERE in Orange County after all). But someone who moves into a Childfree-designated neighborhood could change their mind about kids or accidentally get pregnant. And then what? It’s not as easy as kicking a bad tenant out of an apartment.
I’m a perfect example of why it wouldn’t work. I’d say just about anything right now to get accepted into a Childfree neighborhood. But three or four years down the road when we finally make our decision, it might be to have a baby. And I’ll have gone and ruined my own utopic neighborhood vision. Maybe I’m not giving the devoutly Childfree enough credit. None of them could possibly be as neurotically wishy-washy about this decision as I am. And this idea has worked elsewhere – Childfree living is a reality in Scotland.
Would you pay a premium to live in a Childfree neighborhood? If so, spread the word – maybe this idea will get into the right hands and it could become a reality around the world!
Photo credit: metro.co.uk
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