“I was never a country person. I always thought that I would live in the city for my whole life,” Jennifer Weedon Palazzo, 42, says from her rural home in the US state of Massachusetts. Occasionally, the cofounder of mum-centric comedy video site MomCave is interrupted by her four-year-old daughter requesting a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
For 15 years, Palazzo lived in a rent-controlled New York City apartment with her husband Evan and, eventually, their son (now aged nine). Even though all three shared a one-bedroom space, with their son’s bed about a foot away from his parents’, Palazzo was determined to stay in Manhattan. As an actor and occasional shoe model, her opportunities were mainly in the city.
But once the rent-control period ended, it no longer made financial sense for the family to stay. It wasn’t just that the rent had nearly tripled. The couple couldn’t afford many things including a permanent parking space for their car, which was essential for driving their son around; they’d sometimes drive in circles for two hours hunting for street parking.
They had also begun trying for a second child, so space was increasingly a concern. Looking at other homes, “we were just getting tiny places that were further and further away”, with little access to outdoor space.