Which is better: living in the city, or making your home in the suburbs? There’s no right answer to that question. In fact, it’s incredibly subjective, and there are several criteria that might make one preferable over the other. However, you’re the only person who can accurately assess the pros and cons, and then decide on the best option.
Do you work in the city and want a short commute? Are you preparing to start a family, and you need more space close to schools and amenities? What’s your budget? These are all critical questions you need to ask yourself before you start planning and preparing to move.
While you explore your options, keep in mind that there are valuable resources that can help you find the perfect apartment, moving company, and rebate offers. According to UMoveFree website, you can even use a single service to do all three, making the process a lot easier.
Now, let’s take a closer look at living in the city vs suburban living, and the pros and cons of both.
There are a lot of perks to the exciting lifestyle that comes with living in the city. At the same time, there are a few downsides to it, as well. From diverse cultures and exciting career opportunities to high crime rates and expensive cost of living, here are some of the most notable pros and cons of city living.
With the space constraints of the city, most amenities are close together. You can get your groceries and coffee, walk past your favorite theater, and spend an hour or two in a park – all within a small radius.
Everything you need can be easily or quickly accessed by public transport, or by a short drive. Convenience is probably one of the most significant advantages of living in a city apartment.
According to a study done by the US Census Bureau in 2018, the average American spends about nine full days per year on their commute. Many jobs are located in the city, and living in an urban apartment can save you a lot on travel time and gas.
Access to public transport such as trains, subways, and busses are also far more readily available. That means you can save even more on vehicle maintenance.
Cities are a living mixture of cultures and styles. You can explore the local nightlife, museums or galleries, theatres, parks, or explore different communities. One of the most exciting things to try is the food.
Enjoy freshly baked goods from a coffee shop or deli or try out one of the many delicious goodies from the wide variety of food trucks. Cities often have restaurants that offer foods from all over the world – it’s a culinary adventure to entice and excite your palate.
You’ll likely never be bored because you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice in the city.
The sheer number of opportunities available to city dwellers is a massive perk. There are several educational, career, and charity or volunteering opportunities. If your goal is to spend the next few years learning, growing, developing your skills, or advancing your career, the city might be the best spot for you.
Several benefits come with living in the city. That said, one of the most significant disadvantages is the cost. What you save on your commute, you’ll likely be putting towards your rent and the generally higher cost of living. Your expenses on groceries and travel, for example, will both be higher than if you were living in a suburb.
Less space for everyone means less space for you, too. Most city apartments don’t have much square footage available, but competition for that space is high. In other words, you’ll be paying significantly more for far less space.
If you’re used to the suburbs’ peace and quiet, you might struggle to fall asleep in the city. While the constant activity can be exciting, loud noises like cars, sirens, and air traffic can make it a lot harder to get a good night’s rest.
Cities generally have higher crime rates than suburban areas. You’ll have to contend with the possibility of burglaries and theft, as well as violent crimes. All of these usually occur a lot more often in urban areas compared to the suburbs.
That said, some metros have seen a decline in these statistics, closing the gap between suburban and urban crime rates. While suburbs are likely still a safer option, some cities might be a lot less dangerous than you’d expect.
When people move to the suburbs from the city, it’s generally to get a bigger living space for a more affordable price. You might also consider moving to the outskirts if you want more peaceful surroundings, your own yard, or a slower lifestyle. Whatever your reasons for moving, there are a few pros and cons you need to consider:
Renting or buying a home in the suburbs is generally significantly cheaper than an urban apartment. Being further away from amenities and lower competition for space means that real estate prices are a lot lower.
Aside from having a larger house, having a bigger private yard is another huge benefit. It’s a great space for kids and pets to enjoy, and you can add a swing set or a play area. You can even add a swimming pool or create an outside entertainment area for hosting a neighborhood barbeque or two.
The cost of living is also quite a bit lower, so you can make your budget go a lot further. There are a few trade-offs, but we’ll take a closer look at that when we talk about the cons of suburban life.
Life in a suburb is significantly more laid-back and peaceful than in the city. Since there are also fewer people, there’s less noise, and communities are usually close-knit. You can enjoy a slightly more relaxed lifestyle – when your kids permit it – and get to know your neighbors.
Suburbs are generally safer than the city, experiencing notably less violent crime and theft. If you’re looking for a safer environment for yourself or your family, moving to the suburbs from the city might be the right choice for you.
In general, suburban schools have a reputation for being notably better than those in the inner city. These schools often have access to more space and can support more extensive grounds and facilities that are well equipped.
Additionally, suburban schools have less crime, and usually offer a wide variety of after-school programs. Teachers have better support systems, and the community tends to be significantly more involved.
If you intend to start a family – or if you’ve already started one – and you’d like to offer your kids an excellent education, the suburbs might be the right place for you. As a bonus, these schools often have events and programs that invite parents to get involved with the school, giving you extra time to bond with your kids.
If you want to avoid a long commute into the city by getting a job in the suburbs, you’ll be facing quite a challenge. While some neighborhoods do have a more significant number of commercial businesses – which, in turn, means more jobs – these markets are incredibly competitive.
The chances are good that you’ll have to join career sites, see recruiters, and attend a few job fairs before you get your first position. While it’s definitely going to be worthwhile in the long run, you’ll certainly have your work cut out for you.
Due to the lack of public transport and the need to commute to work, you’ll probably have to invest in your own car. If that’s not something you want to do, the suburbs might not be the best fit. While some neighborhoods do have bus routes or train services, these generally aren’t the best. Having a vehicle is highly recommended.
Owning a car can get very expensive. You’ll have to cover gas and the insurance payments, and the cost of maintaining the car itself.
Another factor to consider is having to drive. If you’ve rarely driven in your life, it might be something with which you’re not entirely comfortable. However, if you’re going to move to a suburb, you’re going to have to get used to driving yourself around.
This goes hand in hand with one of the biggest cons of living in a suburb if you still work in the city – commuting. You’re likely going to spend several hours traveling to and from work and sitting in horrible traffic. If you’re not prepared to lose several days a year to your commute, consider living closer to the city.
If a calmer, more relaxed lifestyle is what you’re looking for, then the suburbs can be a wonderful place to live. However, if you’re used to the fast-paced lifestyle that comes with living in the city, you might find the ‘burbs a little dull. With fewer people, events, and entertainment venues, you might find yourself feeling bored.
You can always head into the city to enjoy a night out, but these trips can be expensive, depending on how far outside of the city you live.
One of the reasons why there’s so much more space in a suburban area is because the amenities that would use the extra space in the city don’t exist. There’s a general absence of public transportation, fewer hospitals, colleges, and universities, and an overall lack of entertainment and shopping venues.
While still technically the ‘burbs, urban suburbs closely surround large cities and offer residents an in-between, best-of-both-worlds neighborhood. Many of these “Urban-Burbs”, or “Also-burbs” come with their own unique advantages – benefits that are very appealing to the millennial market.
In fact, according to a study done by the Urban Land Institute in 2015, most millennials prefer to live in these neighborhoods.
Urban-burbs are often a lot more affordable than living in the city itself, while still being close enough for shorter commutes and access to amenities. At the same time, it also offers access to suburban schools, services, and facilities.
Other benefits include having a close-knit community, actual sidewalks, and much more. If you’re the type of person who prefers being close to the city while wanting reasonably priced or larger spaces, these urban-burbs might be for you.
Keep in mind that, despite its benefits, there are a few sacrifices you need to make. For example, while you’ll still be close to the city, you’ll likely have a longer commute with more traffic. You might also encounter odd spots where houses and apartments are near or next to businesses and light industrial areas.
You’ll need to assess the good and the bad, and decide if a first-ring urban suburb is the right place for you to settle.
There’s only one person who can decide whether city or suburban living is the best option for you, and that’s you. Before you choose, consider criteria such as your finances, current job, future career prospects, family goals, and general preferences.
Each one has its advantages and disadvantages that you should consider carefully. While some factors might be more important to others, you’re not required to assign them the same value. For example, while most people prefer the suburbs for raising a family, metropolitan areas offer parks, museums, and cultural hotspots to visit.
If neither one seems to suit your lifestyle or needs, consider urban suburbs as an option. Drawing on the best of both worlds, it might just be the perfect neighborhood for you.
In the end, it comes down to your lifestyle and plans. Consider carefully.