Would You Rather: Rent in the City or the Suburbs?
Imagine your dream rental home. Are you transported to a roomy 4-bedroom home with a big backyard nestled on a quiet street? Or are you in a sleek townhouse right in the thick of a big city’s hustle and bustle?
Living in the city versus the suburbs is an age-old debate. There’s the convenience, culture and cool factor of living in an urban area, but then there’s the serenity, superior schools and space of the suburbs.
To be sure, there are pros and cons to each living situation. What matters most is that you pick the best neighborhood for you. If you need some help, here are some factors to consider when making the choice between renting in the suburbs and renting in the city.
The cost of rent every month
City living is so hot right now. And while rent may seem more expensive downtown, average suburban rents nationwide are actually slightly higher than urban rents, currently averaging around $ 1,695 per month compared to $ 1,640 per month in urban areas.
Of course, it depends on which city/suburban comparison you’re making. Some cities, such as San Francisco, buck the trend in rent costs.
Indoor and outdoor space
You get more bang for your buck in the suburbs. Per square foot, urban rents are higher by $ 0.18 than rents in the suburbs, which average $ 1.04 per square foot.
Cost aside, think about how much and what kind of space is important to you. Inside, do you need one bedroom or four? Do you want a chef’s kitchen or would a small cooking space be sufficient? Can you handle having neighbors on all sides of your home, or are you looking for a place where you don’t share a wall (or ceiling or floor)? Determine what suits your lifestyle.
And then there’s the outdoor space to consider. Suburban apartment communities are usually large with a ton of outdoor amenities, while urban communities may have a rooftop deck and a smaller pool.
If you’re looking to rent a single-family home or a townhouse, are you drawn to the idea of lounging in the privacy of your big backyard on a Saturday afternoon? Or does sitting on a balcony and taking in the sights and sounds of your busy street sound like more fun?
While you may not have a big private space in a city home, you do have all the public parks, art exhibits and lively public spaces – and you don’t need to weed or mow those.
Transportation and commute
Do you have a car? How important is being able to walk to the grocery store, coffee shop or local watering hole?
Those are key points to consider when looking at the city versus the suburbs. If you live in the suburbs, you’ll likely need a car. You’ll have to factor in the cost of insurance and gas, as well as the time it takes to drive to your job or the local train station. However, parking is likely free or relatively less expensive compared to what city dwellers get.
If you have a car in the city, parking (and parking tickets) can get costly. But the beauty is, you don’t need a car most of the time. Most metropolitan areas offer public transportation options that are quicker and less expensive than driving.
If you have a family and children of school age, this is a huge consideration. Typically, suburban schools are considered to be better than city schools, but it’s different in every area. And, if you have the dough, private school is an option in both areas
This comparison isn’t as cut-and-dry as it once was. New suburbs today are less strip malls and more urban and cultural centers.
To be sure, the white picket fence dream is still out there. But there is a larger trend for suburbs, especially those closer to large cities, to fashion themselves into hubs of restaurants, shopping and activities.
It just depends what you’re looking for in your living situation and lifestyle. Do you want to be a quick bus ride away from world-class museums and late-night music venues? Then the city is probably your thing.
But if you’re looking for an occasional dose of culture with more focus on restaurants and nightlife, then don’t count out the suburbs. Just be sure you’re comfortable with the safety of wherever you choose.
Whether you’re looking to live under the bright lights of a big city or amid the street lights of a tree-lined suburban lane, you have a number of considerations to ponder. Bottom line: Determine your wants and needs, and you’ll find the place that fits your urban or suburban lifestyle.
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Looking for more information about renting? Check out our Renters Guide.
- 5 Ways to Score a Lease in a Competitive Rental Market
- Renting: Figuring Out What You Really Want and Need
- How to Personalize Your Rental Space (Without Losing Your Deposit)