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City vs. Suburbs: What’s the Best Choice When House Hunting?

by Point2 Editorial Staff
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6 min. read

When buying a home, choosing the best location for you and your family is of the utmost importance since so many factors are reliant on where you’re based. From commute times and available schools to whether you’ll need a car, there are many things to consider when choosing the right place to call home.

For many house hunters, the first big decision is whether to seek out a new home in the city or the suburbs. It’s not a decision to take lightly, and some forward thinking is essential, as what works best now might not be ideal in a few years when circumstances change. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the primary considerations to bear in mind if you’re struggling to choose between the city and its surrounding areas.

1. Affordability

The budget you’ve set aside for your homebuying endeavors will inevitably play a huge role in figuring out which location is the most suitable for you. While exceptions do exist, for the most part, house prices in the suburbs tend to be lower than in the city. Not only that, but you’ll generally find that you get more square footage for your money.

However, it’s worth remembering that living in the suburbs does come with extra costs that you could probably avoid in the city. For example, most suburbs are fairly car-dependent, so you’ll need to factor in things like:

  • Buying a car (or two)
  • Fuel costs
  • Maintenance costs
  • Insurance

It also helps to keep an eye on the future. Homes in more urban areas generally appreciate quicker than their suburban counterparts. Not only that, but they also tend to hold their value better since city-center neighborhoods are most likely to stay in high demand for years to come. Meanwhile, a suburban home doesn’t typically enjoy that level of security, making it a riskier investment.

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2. Space & Environment

There’s a lot more to think about when house hunting than simply making a profit, though, and for many homebuyers, the most crucial factor is the quality of life. Usually, life in the suburbs offers more space, with homes on larger plots, often complete with sizable yards. In the city, home sizes tend to be smaller and more tightly packed since space is at a premium. Moreover, when you live in the city, there’s a higher chance you’ll share your space with others, as apartments and condos are much more common.

As such, the suburbs are generally more popular among young and mature families who value outdoor space and improved safety. Many parents feel more comfortable allowing their kids to explore by themselves in the suburbs than in the city. Having said that, urban areas can also boast stunning parks and proximity to green spaces.

3. Staying Healthy

Following on from the previous point, an increasing number of house hunters are also taking their, and their family’s, health more seriously these days. This can often have a direct impact on where they choose to live. Air quality in the city is almost always lower than in the suburbs, reducing the risk of respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Not only that, but suburb dwellers are also more likely to have easier access to nearby hiking trails, watersports, and other outdoor activities.

That’s not to say that the city isn’t without its own health benefits. Indeed, most people in the suburbs rely on a car to get around. Meanwhile, in the city, people tend to be more active, walking or cycling more frequently than jumping in the car for every chore. Plus, you’re more likely to have access to a range of gyms, climbing walls, and other exercise and sports facilities here.

Another thing to bear in mind is the risk of injury, which tends to be higher in busy urban areas compared to more tranquil suburbs. With heavy traffic on the city roads, the risk of being hit by a vehicle increases significantly.

suburbs vs city

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4. Nearby Amenities & Facilities

So far, it looks like the suburbs win out in almost every way, but there’s much to love about the city, too. One of the strongest arguments for buying a home in an urban neighborhood is the sheer number of things to see and do nearby. In the city, you’ll find almost everything just a short walk, cycle or bus ride away. From grocery stores and restaurants to theaters and art galleries, the city has it all.

Meanwhile, life in the suburbs can feel somewhat sleepy in comparison. With many suburban neighborhoods being purely residential, the nearest shop could be miles away, while the best entertainment venues require a lengthy trip into the city center. As a result, walkability tends to be low in the suburbs, and opportunities to socialize can seem scarce.

When it comes to schools, things vary depending on the specific location. However, for the most part, both suburban and urban neighborhoods will be reasonably well catered for. The main difference is the ease of access. Suburban kids are more likely to need to be driven to school or take the school bus, whereas city dwellers might be able to walk to school.

5. Lifestyle Choice

Most people will choose whether to live in the city or the suburbs based on their lifestyles and circumstances. The city offers a buzzing atmosphere and countless things to see and do, not to mention accessible opportunities to get out and socialize with like-minded people. As such, younger people and couples without children who crave the excitement of an urban hub and the opportunities it offers tend to be drawn to the city.

Meanwhile, families and those looking for a less hectic pace of life tend to prefer the suburbs. With typically lower crime rates, healthier air, and less hustle and bustle, it’s a safer option for those with kids or those looking forward to a peaceful retirement.

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6. Thinking Ahead

Finally, before you decide, it’s essential to take a step out of the now and look ahead to the future. Circumstances can change instantly, so it’s well worth taking a moment to think about how life might pan out and how your choice of location could impact things going forward. Buying a house is a serious, long-term commitment, and getting the location wrong can have implications for many years to come.

For example, you might crave the excitement of the city right now, but if you’re planning to have children in the future, you might want to think ahead for their sake. Once the patter of tiny feet arrives, you’re less likely to have the time or inclination to enjoy the amenities of the city and may prefer the peace and calm of the suburbs.

Overall, choosing between the city and the suburbs depends on many things that are unique to your situation and lifestyle. Think about what matters most to you, and keep an eye on the future as well.

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