Where Should You Live – The City or The Suburbs?

Life in the city or the suburbs can be entirely different from one another, so the place you choose to call home should reflect the lifestyle you plan to live. Here are some points to help you determine if you want to plant your roots somewhere suburban or settle in as a city slicker.

When choosing where to live, there is a ton of factors that can weigh heavily on your decision. Those factors could be anything, from the commute time, proximity to attractions, neighborhood demographics and school systems.

1. Daily Commute

Time spent traveling back and forth to your workplace can quickly add up. For many people, a long commute can make or break accepting a job offer or moving to a different location. If your workplace is located within the city, living in the city nearby would also make for a shorter commute than driving in from the suburbs

If you do not have means of transportation, living in the city might be ideal as you can rely on public transportation, biking or walking to get to work. Relying on public transportation also gives you the flexibility to catch up on work during your commute, but does relinquish the control you would have over when you want to begin your commute. Depending on the size of the city, though, you may still need a car to get around.

Commute methods

Perhaps you have a perfect commuting vehicle and don’t mind traveling in and out of the city. The contrast between the urban city life versus the suburbs suits some people. Living in the suburbs could potentially mean a longer commute, but may work better for someone who travels often for work. Consider investing in a hybrid car. Those who work remotely do not consider it a deciding factor and can adapt to life in either the city or suburbs.

2. Size and Type of Living Space

Before choosing where to live, you should visualize the living space that best suits your lifestyle, belongings and future plans. Are pets and kids a part of your everyday life, or are you a party of one? Do you want land to expand on or do you prefer to live a simplistic life, with little home maintenance?

Living in an apartment in the city can also mean less maintenance when it comes to home repairs and yard work. Plus, if you do need additional maintenance, proximity to various hardware stores can speed up your repair process. While a place in the city can be perfectly suitable for families or someone with pets, it is most ideal for someone who doesn’t require a ton of space and can adapt to the tight space of the apartment.

Your dollar will stretch further in the suburbs, which can be important if you are on a strict budget. For less money, you can own more land and a larger home to call yours. If you have a growing family, you will definitely appreciate more space for you children and pets (to run around).

A larger home in the suburb might also be better if you have an eye for home renovations and want more control over the changes made to your property. A house in the suburbs gives you the potential to expand and alter your living space for years to come, instead of conforming to the confines of a home within a crowded city.

3. Demographics

While suburbs have typically been home to primarily middle-class, there has been a shift in recent years. In 2017, the average city saw a demographic shift as more people flocked to suburbs. With the recent movement towards the suburbs, the financial demographics have shifted from being predominantly higher income to a population that is decidedly more diverse. Many people in the millennial generation are also taking up residency in suburbs surrounding major cities, changing the average age of the population.

4. Proximity to Attractions

Think about where you enjoy spending your free time. Where you socialize, relax or tap into your hobbies is a crucial part of your identity, and you should live near the places that bring you joy. The suburbs can be filled with beautiful parks and recreation centers, but cities will offer you a plethora of restaurants, museums, concerts and more. Consider living near your work and places where you enjoy spending time.

Attractions location

5. School Districts

If you already have children or planning to start a family in the near future, the quality of education matter. Typically schools outside large cities provide a better education than those in the inner city.

Urban schools can be overcrowded with children, hindering the quality of education that children receive. Schools are funded through property taxes. Consequently, schools from impoverished inner cities receive less funding than middle class suburbs.

6. Cost of Living

The cost of living will typically be higher directly in a city since the demand for everyday goods and services is higher. However, depending on where you spend your money, the cost breakdown can vary between a city and a suburb, so it’s important to set a realistic budget before deciding where to live.

While rent or mortgage is cheaper in the suburbs, fuel expenses will rise due to the longer commutes. Living in the city reduce transportation costs, but may increase the amount spent on entertainment and food.

Cost of living

For families, living in the city is significantly more expensive than living in the suburbs. A study done by that researched New York City found that families spend over $70,000 more annually within the city than families living in nearby suburbs. Expenses from mortgages to child care factor in the high cost of living.

While it can be more affordable to live in the suburbs, that isn’t the case for every region. Some major U.S. cities like Philadelphia are actually more affordable to live in than their surrounding neighborhoods. When choosing between the city or the suburb, pay attention to the fluctuation in the cost of living that is specific to each city.

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