Should You Move to the Suburbs in 2021?

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The suburbs can be more spacious and affordable than a city -- but beware these pitfalls and added costs.

If you're a city dweller and spent the better part of 2020 cooped up in a cramped apartment, you may be considering a move to the suburbs this year -- especially if you have children or a growing family desperate for more square footage. But abandoning city life is a big logistical and financial decision. Here's how to decide if a suburban move is right for you.

The upside of moving to the suburbs

You might assume that suburban life is boring through and through. Actually, some suburbs have their own town centers, loaded with amenities like cafes and shops, and once you're outside a city, you may have better access to parks and walking trails. Additionally, if you move to the suburbs, you may enjoy these perks:

A more affordable home

You'll generally pay less per square foot of living space in the suburbs than you will in a city. A suburban move could help you snag an affordable mortgage, and give you more space for your family to enjoy. In fact, many people can't swing buying a city home, and are forced to continue renting. Heading to the suburbs could be your ticket to homeownership.

A better school experience

Because cities tend to be more populated, their classrooms tend to be more packed. If you move to the suburbs, you may find that the school systems offer a higher quality of education. Of course, this won't always be the case, so research school districts before making your decision.

A lower cost of living overall

Goods and services, just like groceries and utilities, are often less expensive in the suburbs compared to cities. If you move to the 'burbs, you might lower not just your housing costs, but your general living costs.

The downside of moving to the suburbs

There are plenty of good reasons to pack up and head for the 'burbs. But before you do, consider these drawbacks:

A car could add expense

Living in a city doesn't automatically mean you don't need a car, and moving to the suburbs doesn't automatically mean you do need one. But generally speaking, it's hard to get around in the suburbs without a vehicle of your own, so for some, auto loan payments, maintenance, and insurance are additional expenses to bear.

Your commuting costs could rise

Many people have worked remotely during the pandemic and will continue to do so once it's over. But if your office is in a city and your employer expects to see you back there once it's safe, then moving out to the suburbs could result in a longer and costlier commute, especially if you have to pay for tolls or parking.

You may not like having to drive everywhere

The great thing about city living is having amenities just a short walk away. If you move to the suburbs, you may find it annoying to jump in the car every time you need to grab milk from the store or pick up dinner from a restaurant.

You might miss being close to the action

While there's often plenty to do in the suburbs, if you enjoy concerts, theater, and other live events, you may find that you miss city living once you've moved. At this point, it's been close to a year since most of us have done those things thanks to the pandemic, but once it's over and events get scheduled, you may not appreciate being far away from them. And also, when you're out in the suburbs, it may take more coordination to get together with friends -- you may be less likely to just bump into them when everything's so spread out.

Your home may be more expensive to maintain

There's a benefit to living in a small city apartment -- less square footage makes your home easier and less costly to clean, heat, cool, and maintain. If you upsize with a suburban move, you might quickly find yourself spending more on upkeep and utilities.

Should you move to the suburbs this year?

City residents have staged an exodus in the days since the pandemic began. While moving to the suburbs could work out well for you, be sure to think things through. And weigh your decision in the context of life getting back to normal. You may not always work from home, and your kids won't always be stuck learning remotely, so think about whether a suburban lifestyle will suit you once the pandemic is over and normalcy has returned.

Our Research Expert

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