Tips & Tricks

Should I Live in the City or the Suburbs?

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Whether to live in the city or suburbs depends entirely on your budget and preferences. As with all things in life, there are advantages of living in the city, but dwelling in the suburbs has its benefits as well, so let’s get started.

Suburban vs. Urban vs. Rural Living

We all know there are three different kinds of areas you can live in: urban, suburban, and rural. While we’re pretty sure that the differences between suburban, rural, and urban living were outlined in second-grade social studies, that was like 90 years ago, so let’s have a recap.

You can describe living in a rural area as living out in the sticks or the country. This type of living is seen as idyllic for those seeking reprieve from crowds. Rural areas generally have small, self-sustaining populations.

Urban living is city living: active nightlife, full of noise, sophisticated public transit system, and sometimes small and expensive city apartments. Some people find the urban life threatening while others think it’s stimulating. Urban areas tend to be densely populated and have more intense traffic and pollution as a result.

For those seeking an intermediary between urban and rural living, the suburbs might be just the thing. Suburbs are large residential areas away from the core of town yet close enough to the city center. Single-family houses are typically found in the suburbs whereas multi-family apartment buildings and condos are characteristic of urban living.

Can you afford to live in the city?

Choosing whether to live in the city or the suburbs is often a matter of budget—where can you afford to live? By and large, living the city is more expensive than living in the suburbs, though that’s not always the case.

A joint study by Zillow and found that the cost of living in New York City was $71,237 more per year versus the cost of living in the surrounding suburbs. That is a huge difference! Comparatively, living in the heart of San Francisco cost $12,560 more per year than in the nearby suburbs.

But suburban living is not always better on your wallet. In Las Vegas, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and a few other cities, urban living is more economical.

Your lifestyle influences your happiness in the city or suburbs

For someone who enjoys five-star restaurants, vibrant nightlife, glamorous boutiques, and fast-paced living, residing in an urban hub is a dream come true. On the other hand, if you find crowds and tons of noise overwhelming, then a large city might feel like purgatory.

Your lifestyle is one of the primary considerations in deciding where you ought to live. If you are into fishing, hiking, and spending time outdoors, then realize that you may have to drive several hours to enjoy your hobbies if you choose city living.

Is your career better suited for the city or suburbs?

Your career should also play an integral role in helping you decide on the city or suburban life. For example, if your job is in landscape, you might find it difficult to find work in the city because there is not a high demand for landscape artists. The fact of the matter is that most city homes don’t have large yards with grass to cut, and competition for landscaping contracts is probably fierce. Similarly, a business executive may find that the suburbs do not offer the convenience and accessibility afforded by city living.

Children (furry or not) will probably be happier in the suburbs

In general, suburban homes are much larger than urban homes. This extra room means that your children and pets will have more room to spread out in the suburbs. Furthermore, suburban homes typically boast at least some yard space. This is heaven for pets and small children. On the contrary, children and pets who live in an urban setting have to rely on parks for their outdoor time. This also puts extra strain on parents. Instead of just letting your kids play in the backyard or your animals play outside, you have to walk them to the park, which takes time out of your schedule.

Your health should be a factor, too

Think for a moment about New York City. Whether you’ve visited or lived there, you probably remember a few things about the Big Apple’s streets: dark alleyways littered with rodent infested trash bags, nasty roaches in stairwells and hallways, and mounds of gray snow on the street corner during the winter. The fact of the matter is that environmental conditions in cities are less than ideal. Pollution leads to respiratory disease, dense populations means that viruses and illnesses spread faster, and fast-paced living increases stresses and stress worsens existing conditions or increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with a new condition.

However, living in the suburbs is not the cure-all when it comes to health-related issues. In urban settings, people usually walk or bike to where they are going. But since most suburbs lack sophisticated public transportation, people typically drive everywhere they go, and this can contribute to higher levels of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

The debate of whether to live in the suburbs or the city is long lasting and never-ending. When it all boils down to it, it is a matter of preference and budget, so go with your gut and you’ll make the right choice. Whatever you decide, Zumper can help you find rentals based on your budget in the exact neighborhood you want. Check out the apartments and houses available on Zumper and get settled into your new urban or suburban home today.

Author’s Bio

Darlene Mase lives in Newnan, Georgia, a town 40 minutes south of Atlanta. In her spare time, she enjoys writing for her personal blog and for popular sites like When Darlene’s not writing, you can catch her outdoors with her husband and daughter or at the gym burning off the calories of something delicious she just ate.

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