Maybe you’ve grown tired of your busy lifestyle and hectic schedule. Or got annoyed by the constant noise, persistent smells, and flashing lights in the city. Or become fed up with traffic jams, parking issues, and overcrowded streets. Or, maybe, you just wish for more space, greener surroundings, or better public schools.
Either way, moving to the suburbs may sound like the perfect solution – affordable housing, high-performing school districts, low crime rate, peace and quiet – an ideal alternative to the hustle and bustle of city life.
However appealing such a lifestyle may appear though, some people are just not cut out for it – those who love the vibrancy and dynamics of the big city, may find suburban living boring, inconvenient, and lacking in opportunities.
Therefore, if you’re thinking of leaving the city and heading for the suburbs, you need to be well aware of both the benefits and drawbacks of living in the suburbia – only when you know what to expect and what challenges you’re going to face can you make the right decision for you and your family.
So, should you stay in the city or move to the suburbs? Here is what to consider:
Suburbs vs City: Housing options
While living in a small city apartment may be convenient enough for singles and young couples, large families need a lot more space. And the suburbs offer an ample amount of space – big houses with large outdoor areas at affordable prices.
The chance to buy/rent a spacious home with a big yard for about the same amount of money they’re paying for a tiny downtown apartment is one of the biggest drives for urban families who have spent their young adult years living in bustling cities to move to the suburbs when they have kids.
So, if you have several children (and a pet or two), moving to the suburbs may be your chance to create your dream home – a beautiful house with lots of rooms and enough personal space for everyone, a charming garden, wonderful backyard features, plenty of storage space, etc.
Keep in mind though that a large home needs a lot of furnishings and décor and requires a lot of maintenance work. Besides, the bills are likely to be higher and the taxes may be greater as well. So, when moving to the suburbs, make sure you consider the amount of space you actually need and get the right size home for your family.
Good to remember: When planning to move to the suburbs, start by picking the community in which you want to live, not the house you like. Focus on the features that are most important to you and your family – the commute time, available amenities, school districts, crime rate, housing costs, etc. – and choose the area that best suits your requirements, preferences, and available budget. (See also: How to find the right home for you when moving)
Suburbs vs City: Commute time
Commuting in the cities is supposed to take little time due to the short distances. Yet, traffic and congestion often create long and stressful commutes in the urban areas.
There is no doubt, however, that commuting to the city from the suburbs will be longer and more tiresome, especially if there’re no convenient transportation options available.
So, if you intend to keep your job in the city after moving to the suburbs, you need to seriously consider the commute time. Check out the logistics of the transportation, bus and train schedules, road traffic conditions, and other relevant factors. If possible, choose a suburb that isn’t more than an hour away from your workplace, see if you can take a bus or train to the city or will have to drive every day, find out where the train station is and how long it would take your to get there, whether you can park at the station, etc.
Good to know: If you move to the suburbs, you will need a car. Many of the places you will be frequenting on a daily basis won’t be within walking distance and public transportation may not be convenient enough, so you’ll have to rely on your car as your main means of transport. Having a car will increase your independence and sense of freedom (you’ll be able to go whenever and wherever you wish to go – and will have your own personal garage), but will incur extra expenses (fuel and upkeep) and headaches (traffic problems, parking concerns, maintenance work, etc.).
Suburbs vs City: School options
In general, suburbs have better-rated public schools than large cities, so if educational opportunities are a concern for your family, moving to the suburbs might be the right step to take – in fact, the excellent school districts in thriving suburban areas are one of the top reasons to move to the suburbs.
Be sure though to thoroughly research the suburbs’ school systems before deciding where to relocate – everyone’s definition of a “great” school is drastically different, so what others consider an excellent educational institution may not be right for you. For instance, a school with strict discipline and a rigorous curriculum that focuses exclusively on test scores may not be a right fit for a creative, freethinking child with an artistic aptitude.
You want to find a school that offers the services and educational opportunities that meet your family’s needs and preferences – whether it’s specialized education, a more personal approach, or a robust arts or sports program – not just any high-performing school. Even if your little one is still a toddler, think about what high school district you’d want them to attend and choose what suburb to move to accordingly. (See also: How to find the best school for your children after moving)
Good to remember: Be sure to find out if the school offers before- and after-school care, whether it provides bus transportation, what extra-curriculum activities are available, etc. before making your choice. It’s also a good idea to peruse the school calendar to see if most events and meetings are scheduled for the day or the evening (very important for working parents).
Suburbs vs City: Childcare
The available childcare options in the suburbs are another important factor to consider before heading out of the city (in case you have – or plan to have – a little one, of course). Will you or your spouse stay at home and care for your small kids? Will you hire a nanny? Do you prefer to use a day care center? Is there a large community of stay-at-home moms or dads in the suburb?
The childcare situation in the suburbia will have a great impact your lifestyle, so you need to find a place that suits your circumstances and wishes – after all, you don’t want to have to quit your job simply because you have no appropriate childcare options, or be the only working mom in a stay-at-home community, or find out that all other mothers are working and you have no social circle, or have your kids missing out on after school activities because there’s no one to take them to these activities, etc.
Suburbs vs City: Available amenities
City-dwellers are used to all kinds of services and amenities being available 24/7, just a quick phone order or a short walk away. In the suburbs, however, things are a little different:
- You may need to drive to the nearest grocery store;
- You may not be able to find the brands you like in the local stores;
- There may not be a club or a sports center in the vicinity where you can practice your not-so-common hobby (such as yoga or ice skating, for example);
- You may not be able to get a meal after 10 p.m. or refill your tank if you run out of gas after midnight;
- Deliveries may cost more than in the big cities;
- Services may be limited and less reliable – the internet connection may not be stable or fast enough, it may be difficult to find a specialist quickly if you need something fixed, the nearest beauty salon may be fifty miles away, etc.
To bridge the gap between urban and suburban lifestyles more easily, you may want to move to a suburb that has a “town center” with a cluster of shops and restaurants and offers a lot of amenities to its residents.
Suburbs vs City: Entertainment options
Finding something fun to do in the suburbia requires a little more effort than in the city. There isn’t a whole world of possibilities as soon as you walk out of the front door – entertainment options are somewhat limited and involve outdoor activities and community gatherings rather than exciting nightlife and spectacular cultural events.
Therefore, big city people may find suburban life boring and miss the diverse entertainment venues and colorful vibrancy of the urban areas. This factor alone may cause many to regret moving to suburbs and giving up the excitement and convenience of city life.
Suburbs vs City: Social life
Suburbs are famous for their strong community spirit – people are kind and friendly to each other, always ready to lend a helping hand if necessary. Your new neighbors will give you a warm welcome and will gladly assist you in any way they can. You’re likely to make more friends within a couple of months in the suburbs than you’ve made all your life in the big city.
Yet, it is also possible that you suffer from lack of privacy in such a close-knit community and find your neighbors meddling and annoying. Besides, living in the suburbs may make you feel like you are isolated from the rest of the world, as all your friends will be far away and your social life will diminish considerably.
Suburbs vs City: Lifestyle
When it comes to urban vs suburban living, the differences go beyond the housing costs and daily commutes. Suburban life is:
- Safer – The crime rate in the suburbs is much lower than in the big cities, so you won’t need to worry about the safety of your property and your loved ones – young kids will be OK playing outside, you won’t be afraid to stay out late at night, etc.;
- Healthier – Life is greener in the suburbs – there are a lot of green areas and plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, air quality is several times better than in the large urban areas, the traffic is considerably lower, etc.;
- Less stressful – Far away from the city lights, horns, and crowds, hectic schedules and big expectations, the suburban environment brings peace and quiet into everyday life.
Big city life, on the other hand is colorful, vibrant, and dynamic. It offers plenty of opportunities and excitement – from lucrative careers and endless entertainment options to a stimulating multicultural environment and unique daily experiences.
All in all, the peaceful lifestyle is one of the greatest benefits of moving to the suburbs. Yet, you need to be sure that you won’t be nostalgic for your former colorful, hectic life before making the final decision to relocate.
One final piece of advice: if you do decide to make the big leap and move to the suburbs, be sure to hire professional movers to handle your relocation – moving from a big city with its high-rise buildings, limited parking, and dense traffic, requires meticulous planning, high speed, and great efficiency. Only reliable and experienced moving experts who have the specialized equipment and professional know-how to perform the move in a safe and efficient manner can ensure the success of your relocation endeavor when moving from the city to the suburbs.
Good luck and happy new life in the suburbs!