As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic changed the way millions of Americans worked in 2020, many find themselves without a commute, and the appeal of bigger homes, yards, and an escape from it all has convinced many to flee the city for the suburban lifestyle.
According to a recent study conducted by Realtor.com, online searches of homes in suburban zip codes grew 13% in 2020 compared to 2019, a rate twice as high as home searches in urban areas.
Living in the burbs isn’t all that bad. Today’s suburbs, while still not as developed as large urban cores are adjusting to the needs of millennials with some retrofitting, adding more walkability and replacing big box stores that were a casualty of flight from the suburbs with community centers and mixed-use districts.
While considering a move from the city to a small town may seem like a good idea for those wishing to enjoy a slower pace of life, there are several things that a mover must consider before making this life-changing decision – especially if they have called the city home for several years.
In this article, the moving experts at Mayflower attempt to weigh the pros and cons of living in the suburbs compared to the city, and help movers understand what they need to know before making a decision.
Top Benefits of Moving to The Suburbs from The City
The suburban lifestyle offers a refreshing change of pace for those who are used to hustle and bustle at all hours of the night. For some people, the city is a playground, ripe with activity. As people settle down and grow their families, a visit to a local park may be more your speed than a trip to your favorite bar.
If you have considered a move to the suburbs from the city, you’re probably dreaming about these agreed advantages of suburbs in comparison to living in the city:
Larger Homes and Yards
In Chicago, renters in Wrigleyville live in similarly sized 749 square-feet apartments on average, compared to an average home size of 2,364 square feet in Naperville – which makes a huge difference, especially for those with a growing family.
In most city neighborhoods, outdoor space costs a premium, is shared, or simply isn’t an option. For some, trading up from a front door facing a busy street or inside an apartment building to an expansive yard with acres of space brings with it new possibilities of pets, barbecues and places for the kids to play.
Peace and Quiet
For some, living off a busy street has its perks. Living on a busy street puts you nearby popular bars, restaurants and transit centers. In some urban cities, you do not even have to own a car. For those who do own a car, parking can be a nightmare, or an additional expense.
When you live in a tucked away suburban community, finding parking is never an issue – and often you will have your very own garage to keep your car safe from the elements. Instead of cars, you will hear different ambient noises – birds, crickets and the occasional lawn mower. At night, you should be able to see the stars that were hidden by the light of the city.
Moving out of the city allows movers to better marvel at nature’s wonders, unplug and enjoy restful nights.
Statistically Safer Neighborhoods
Some movers may feel safer in more isolated communities and in most instances, the math shakes out.
Using Naperville and Chicago as examples again and numbers from bestplaces.net the violent crime score for the city of Chicago is 49.9 (on a 100-point scale) compared to 10.2 for Naperville. Property crimes do occur at a higher rate in the suburbs than violent crime, with Naperville scoring 19.9 compared to 46.3 for Chicago city.
Stronger School Districts
School districts are a very important consideration for families moving to the suburbs.
Differences in adequacies between suburban and urban school districts have been studied for decades, and most of the time the difference comes down to funding. School districts benefit heavily from property taxes, and suburban communities typically have a higher ratio of high-value home buyers vs. renters than their urban counterparts.
This allows suburban schools to maintain lower class sizes and may also provide for newer facilities, amenities, updated textbooks, technology and more course offerings than urban schools.
Suburban communities are different from those found in the city in that they are more spread out.
For families with young children, drivability is often more important than walkability. Suburbanites have access to countless shopping, dining and entertainment options, as well as plenty of green space and activities for the kids.
While there are certainly places in the city that movers may miss, it’s important to remember that you can still make time for date night in the city as it’s only a short drive away.
Things To Be Aware Of When Moving To The Suburbs
With so many pros to living in the suburbs, why aren’t more people making the move right now? For some, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Some movers – especially younger ones who have made the switch have had major afterthoughts about moving to the suburbs and leaving the city life behind.
Before committing to a suburban move, movers should fully understand and think through the following considerations:
Higher Property Taxes & HOA Fees
Those great schools have to be funded somehow – and most of the time, movers transferring from the city to the suburbs get a surprise bill at tax time or wonder why they are contributing so much to their escrow account.
The average county tax rate in Cook County (Chicago) is 2.1%. This means on a home assessed at 250,000 annual property taxes would be on average, $5,250. DuPage County, where Naperville is imposes a slightly higher county tax rate of 2.2% which will cost homeowners an extra $300 per year on the same assessed home value.
HOA fees, if applicable, can also inflate your monthly costs.
Having more space is great, but this means more space to take care of.
- You can expect to get 10-15 years out of major appliances in your home. Replacing a higher efficiency, larger model air conditioner will cost more than replacement in a smaller home.
- Mowing the lawn or hiring someone to mow your lawn is an additional expense that you did not have before.
- Depending on the energy efficiency of your new home compared to your old home, your utility costs may go up significantly as well.
- All of those projects you envision when you move into your home add up. It may take 4 gallons of paint to spruce up a room compared to the gallon you used in your old home.
School District Zoning
You could run into a situation where you find the perfect home, and it’s much more affordable than a comp across the street. This could be a scenario where your home is zoned in a different school district than the one across the street.
If you have an infant, you may not make this realization until it’s too late. Know and feel comfortable with the school district you’re moving into before you sign the dotted line.
Long commutes can test the patience of the unexperienced. If you find yourself spending the mornings you used to spend casually sipping coffee battling rush hour traffic or your early evenings previously spent at the gym trying to make your way home under the cover of darkness you may have some regrets.
Before committing to a move, test your commute at the time you would be heading to or from work and ask yourself if this is something you could do every day. While it may take you 20 minutes to get from the city to the suburbs, it could be an hour heading in the opposite direction.
Choosing A House Over A Neighborhood
It’s possible to fall in love with a house that checks all of your boxes – a big yard, rooms for all of your future kids, a finished basement and still be unhappy.
Before you fall in love with a home, fall in love with the neighborhood. To properly assess your new neighborhood before moving in, make sure you are comfortable with:
- The aesthetics of the neighborhood and how your home blends in with its surroundings.
- The average cost of living in the neighborhood.
- Neighborhood safety.
- Available amenities and understanding the amenities the neighborhood does not have.
- The number of rentals on your block compared to owned homes.
Missing the City More Than You Expected
Sometimes, there is nothing particularly wrong with your commute, new home or where you are sending your kids to school. You just miss the city and all it has to offer.
Understand that moving to the suburbs is a huge life decision and that you should be 100% at peace with your decision before making your move. Remember, that while it may feel like you have moved to Mars, the city is just a short drive away.
What To Do Before You Move To The Suburbs
Once you have fully understood and weighed the pros and cons of moving to the suburbs from the city, it is time to start planning your move. Mayflower’s expert movers have these tips for movers who are just starting the process.
Visit Your Prospective Neighborhood
First things first – movers should visit their prospective neighborhood before even touring a home in the neighborhood.
- Look up a top-rated restaurant or brewery in the suburb and get a feel for what life would be like if you were a local. After lunch, visit a local park with the kids.
- Just as importantly, test your commute during normal rush hour to see what it is like.
Do Your Favorite City Activities
Compare your experiences from your suburban trip to those in your city. If you have already decided that now is the time to make the move, treat this as your city bucket list.
- Do the things you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the chance to – maybe there is a new aquarium or museum that would be great for the kids that will be harder to get to after your move.
- If your city has a professional sports team and you enjoy going to games, go to the game knowing you’ll probably be going less after you move.
- Be sure to support you favorite restaurants and shops. While you will certainly be coming back, you will discover new favorites and these visits will be less frequent.
Take Inventory & Make a Shopping List
If you are upgrading from a 750-square ft. home to a 2,500-square-ft. home, changes are, you will probably need to make some big purchases.
Once you know the floorplan of your new home, start seeking out deals on items such as couches, bedroom sets and yes, even a lawnmower. You don’t need to make these purchases prior to your move but need to understand what goes into the total cost of your move.
Contact Mayflower Moving Company
Ready to make the move to the suburbs? The expert suburban relocation movers at Mayflower are here to help. Contact us today for your free moving quote and let’s get moving together.