Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
The question pops into the minds of people who live in the city at some point in their lives: is it finally time to move into the suburbs?
That time can come at any point, whether it’s when you start growing your family or if you’re just tired of all the noise and the cramped space. While for some, the pros and the cons of moving somewhere outside city limits are clear and can help them decide which lifestyle is best, for others, they’re not. So if you’re just starting to explore the idea of moving to the suburbs after spending years living in a city, here’s what you may want to think about before looking for a new home.
Money. This one is a no-brainer. Both couples and individuals may take a look at their finances to see where they can make some cuts, and then decide if moving to the suburbs is the right decision for them. For many, it is: people who choose to buy a home outside a metropolis generally end up saving money, but this isn’t necessarily true for everyone. Consider how much you’re spending on rent, transportation, dining, and entertainment (among other factors) and try to envision if any of those expenses will go down if you buy a house in the suburbs. For example, if you don’t already have a car, you may have to lease one — then factor in that cost along with the cost of gas into your monthly budget. Everyone’s circumstances and finances are different. At the end of the day, whether you save cash or not depends on how you decide to spend it.
Family size. Many families decide it’s time to move to the suburbs because they’re thinking about expanding their family. Many couples with one child may still be comfortable living in an apartment, but as soon as that child starts growing up or if there’s another baby on the way, parents may think that it’s time to invest in a larger space for the kids to run around in. If you think it can improve your family’s lifestyle, then it may be time to move to the suburbs.
Outdoor space. Some city-dwellers are lucky to have parks in close proximity to their homes, but for families who are looking for a more private space, like a backyard, it may be time to consider moving to the suburbs. Backyards are relatively harder to find and can be more expensive to have in the city. But it’s important to be honest with yourself: you may have dreams of throwing outdoor dinner parties and barbecues, or imagine that your kids will run around in the garden all the time, but how frequently do you think that space will really be used?
Owning your dream home. Millions of Americans work their way up to get to a point when they can comfortably afford their dream home. If you think that you (or you and your partner) have enough resources to make this dream come true, it may be the right leap to make — wherever that dream home may be.
Transportation: Not often overlooked, but often miscalculated, the issue of transportation can make or break anyone’s decision to move to the suburbs. Often, this means getting a car if you don’t have one, and even increasing your time on the road by getting caught in traffic. If you’re a working parent and regularly rely on a babysitter, you may want to also factor in the cost of paying that sitter to keep an eye on your children for an extra hour or two a day. On the other hand, you may prefer the safety and the reliability of a car instead of trusting the public transportation system in your city.
Real estate taxes versus high rents. Let’s face it: rent in big cities isn’t getting any cheaper, and, in most cases, if you want to live in a prime neighborhood that’s both safe for kids and is relatively affordable, you may have to look into the suburbs anyway. It’s not an ideal situation for folks who are just starting to feel comfortable with their financial situation, but families may have to choose between paying real estate taxes and dealing with the high cost of rent.
Cultural richness and schools. While it’s unfair to say that all suburbs lack cultural richness, most cities are known for offering more in that area. If you want to expose your children to all walks of life, or simply be surrounded by cultural diversity in your day-to-day, moving to the suburbs may not be the most favorable option for you. Alternatively, if you have children who are reaching or are already of school age, you may still want to consider this option: it may be easier to place them in better-than-average schools there than it would be in a city, where children are often waitlisted.
Opportunity. When considering moving to the suburbs, you may also want to consider how you spend time outside of your house. Do you heavily rely on the proximity of art museums in your area? Do you enjoy popping into restaurants on a whim? Do you prefer to be close to shopping centers or parks? When you move to a new place, even within the same city, your life may change in many ways, but perhaps not as drastically as moving from a metropolis to a suburb. You may want to evaluate how attached you are to your current lifestyle and the opportunities around you, and if you would still go out of your way to maintain it.
At the end of the day, you need to be comfortable with your decision. Perhaps the most important part about making such a huge transition is asking yourself: Will this impact my life in a positive way? The possibility of taking such a huge step and even exploring options out of your comfort zone may make you nervous, but you may still want to feel a sense of ease when you make the final call. If you’re making lists of pros and cons, you may not want to expect a clear winner: both the city and the suburbs have something valuable to offer every family, but it’s up to you to decide what you want the most!
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