City Or Suburb: Which Is Cheaper?

City Or Suburb
Summary: Whether you rent or own a home, living in the suburbs of most cities is more expensive compared to the city. A full comparison of all expenses based on experience in both is discussed here.

Which is cheaper between living in a city or a suburban? When it comes to housing, the clear answer is that, certainly, buying or renting a home in the suburbs is likely cheaper. But, hold on, when you begin to consider other costs of living, or you research some real estate markets, it may surprise you to see that in some situations, living in the city can be costlier than suburb life.

Are you considering moving from the city to the suburbs to save the cost of living?

If you like to save money, staying put might be your better chance. At first look, suburban living might appear friendlier. However, when we calculated the costs between living in the city and suburban, we discovered some hidden prices.

Below are pointing to consider when evaluating your options between city and suburbs.

A Scenario of City Living

Suburbs have so many things to offer, but so also the cities. Where else can you do unlimited things, all a few minutes?

Pros

Below are some areas in which living in the city is much beneficial when compared to suburbs:

  • Public Transportation: Even though suburbs are beginning to offer many walkable areas, and some offer transit routes to the city, suburbs just can’t win when looking into the convenience of getting around. Many urban cores are so walkable and bikeable – and more difficult to park in if you drove from the suburbs. Various public transportation options are provided by city apartments, and rideshares can be conveniently and quickly accessed in cities than in suburbs
  • Deliveries: Even though online shopping has kind of balanced the ground, cities are still the best place to be for people who love package deliveries. In the city, you will possibly have varieties of grocery and restaurant delivery services to pick from, and also local stores and standalone retailers. While in the suburbs, you are at the risk of being outside several delivery radii.
  • Unlimited entertainment: Although suburbs that have planned shopping districts can close the sidewalks before dark. In the city, your main problem will be to ensure you catch asleep. Whether your tastes include movies, live music, coffeehouses, or bars, many cities are bustling 24-hours a day.
  • Diversity: Cities are filled with diverse cultures, and this is shown in the food and entertainment options, including the faces of those living with you. Want to taste Ethiopian cuisine, watch a Bollywood film, and close the day at a Jewish restaurant? You will have many opportunities in a city. Most cities are filled with diversity, while a lot of suburbs are still dangerously white and upper-middle class.
  • Anonymity: The odds are great in a suburb that regardless, you will get to know everyone, and in turn, they will know you too. Those who choose to carefully select their friends and otherwise get lost in a sea of strangers may be highly comfortable with the anonymity that is only possible in a big city.
  • Medical care: Maybe you or a household member needs regular medical care. You will have access to the best assistance without driving across the town when you live in a city. Also, you will have your choice from many medical centers.

Cons

  • Minimal privacy: This can be a great deal for people shopping for homes in a populated metro area. You will need to determine what you find most important: being close to your favorite movie theater or having privacy. Living in the city often comes with crowds.
  • Lack of affordability: If you want a city home that is comfortable for raising your family, based on where you live, you could have a tougher time securing a home within your budget. That is why getting pre-approved in advance in the process is recommended by our real estate agent and to also remember your rice range.
  • Far from Mother Nature: There is no doubting that living in the city has its advantages. But remember that, as humans, we love to be in nature. If you are used to exercising and spending much time in nature, you may not adapt well to city living.

Where are the Cheapest Cities to Move to?

As shown in a study, below are 13 extra locations where the cost of living is highly favorable in the city and the amount saved by city dwellers every year is more than their suburban counterparts:    

  • Cleveland — $9,034
  • Milwaukee — $8,227
  • Las Vegas — $7,318
  • Providence (Rhode Island) — $6,974
  • Phoenix — $6,567
  • Cincinnati — $5,514
  • San Diego — $4,555
  • Pittsburgh — $4,258
  • Denver — $3,635
  • San Antonio — $2,474
  • San Jose (California) — $1,628
  • New Orleans — $836
  • Los Angeles — $407

Read Guide To Find Which USA City Has the Lowest Cost of Living

A Case of Suburban Living

What does a suburb mean, and what advantages does it bring to the conflict between city vs suburban living? The suburb is defined by Merriam-Webster as an outlying part of a town or city, or a smaller community located adjacent to or inside commuting distance of a city. Suburbs are sometimes referred to as bedroom communities-housing areas packed with single-family homes, large open spaces, and fenced backyards. Let’s look at the pros and cons of living in suburbs.

Pros

Apartments in suburban can be lower density than people living in urban cores. Why would anyone decide to reside in the suburbs?

  • Space: The pandemic made hard-core city lovers have a rethink living in small apartments in populated cities. With a lower number of residents and large open spaces, the suburbs are much attractive to lots of buyers and renters.
  • Affordability: While exceptions do exist, generally, you can get more space for less money if you choose the suburbs over major cities. This is true whether you are renting or buying, and whether you prefer a house, condo, or apartment.
  • Amenities: At a point, suburban dwellers had to drive to the city to access things to do. A lot of modern suburbs though are planned neighborhoods, you may see retail stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants, and entertainment spots nestled in many walkable locations near your home. Some upscale apartment complexes, even in the suburbs, features many amenities on site.
  • Nature: A lot of cities are indeed filled with designated green spaces. However, nature lovers will enjoy being surrounded by trees and grass anywhere you go. Many suburban homes have yards, and many apartments come with patios or balconies overlooking beautiful landscaping.
  • Safety: Crime in the city has been reducing a lot for years, but people that are concerned about safety usually pick closed communities in the suburbs. Even outside the closed communities, total crime rates are lower in the suburbs as compared to the inner city.

Cons

  • Job uncertainty: There are fewer vacancies in a suburb than in a large city area. So, if you choose to live outside of the city, ensure the stability of your job. Or, you could work for a company that allows remote working.
  • Less exciting: Moving from a city to a suburb is an adjustment as you will be leaving a fast-paced lifestyle for a much slower one. Also, your preference depends on your situation. But those weekly strolls downtown will possibly be over after moving to a suburban home.
  • More driving: You likely often dream of walking home from your favorite restaurant or the grocery store. We hate to tell you that residents of suburban depend on their vehicles to get around. And seriously, the cost of gas, insurance, and maintenance adds up faster.

Where are the Cheapest and Lively Suburbs to Move to?

As contained in the study, below are 13 other metropolitan areas where living in a suburb is lively and affordable and the amount families save per annum by living outside the city:      

  • Dallas — $14,128 Moving to Dallas
  • Washington, D.C. — $12,832
  • San Francisco — $12,560
  • Atlanta — $12,557
  • Austin — $11,522
  • Seattle — $11,376
  • Sacramento — $10,822
  • Boston — $8,076
  • Portland (Oregon) — $7,998
  • Houston — $5,368
  • Minneapolis — $3,930
  • Miami — $1,943
  • Birmingham — $696

How City vs. Suburb Costs Vary all over the Country

Every real estate market and a professional realtor can assist you to choose whether it makes reasonable sense for you to reside in a city or suburb. Below is a quick look at some of the largest city areas and how the cost of real estate varies based on whether you reside in the city proper or in a nearby neighborhood:

  • Los Angeles: The average list price is $517 per square foot in L.A., compared to the suburbs is at $432. The average rent in Los Angeles is $3,650, against $3,197 in the city area.

Verdict: Suburban living is more affordable for buyers and renters

  • Chicago: The average list price is $243 per square foot in Chicago, compared to the suburbs at $165. The average rent in Chicago is $1,750, against $1,695 in the city area.

Verdict: Suburban living is highly affordable for buyers, but the difference in rent is not obvious

Read Where to Live When Moving to Chicago

  • Houston: The average list price is $142 per square foot in Houston, compared to the suburbs at $120. The average rent in Houston is $1,500, against $1,599 in the city area.

Verdict: Suburban living is affordable for buyers while city living is affordable for renters

  • Philadelphia: The average list price is $164 per square foot in Philadelphia, compared to the suburbs at $143. The average rent in Philadelphia is $1,425, against $1,500 in the city area.

Verdict: Suburban living is a bit affordable for buyers while city living is a bit affordable for renters

Cities vs. Suburbs: Cost of Living Index

A new analysis of the cost of living in 35 big cities and their suburbs all over the country is done by GoBankingRates study, and city living is cheaper in most places. GoBankingRates finds out that whether residing in a major city or suburbs, it is more expensive by checking the average rent and cost-of-living index score for all 35 big cities as well as their 5 important suburbs, depending on the size of the population and data availability.

Below is a fast check at the cost of living in the city and its suburbs as analyzed in the study: 

Major City

Cost-of-Living Index in City

Median Cost-of-Living Index in Suburbs

Atlanta

101.8

122.36

Austin, Texas

117.4

102

Baltimore

90

123.22

Boston

169.9

166.98

Charlotte, N.C.

97.2

97.96

Chicago

110.9

105.2

Columbus, Ohio

84.3

97.14

Dallas

95.2

112.02

Denver

127.5

131.4

Detroit

72.9

90.36

Houston

102.3

106.7

Indianapolis

90.4

96.58

Jacksonville, Fla.

92

107.24

Kansas City, Mo.

87

92.7

Las Vegas

104.5

111.66

Los Angeles

166.2

188.7

Louisville, Ky.

87.9

98.6

Memphis, Tenn.

74

102.7

Miami

122.8

114.62

Milwaukee

84.1

99.3

Minneapolis

109.4

116.52

Nashville

99.6

116.38

New York City

180

154

Oklahoma City

87.2

86.54

Philadelphia

99.5

102.7

Phoenix

99.4

113.5

Portland, Ore.

140.5

139.72

Raleigh, N.C.

102.1

110.64

San Antonio

93.2

94

San Diego

166

175.34

San Francisco

272.6

217.9

San Jose, Calif.

222.2

326.56

Seattle

176.5

136.94

Tucson, Ariz.

95.2

110.26

Washington, D.C.

158.5

132.4

Conclusion

Living in the suburbs can give more housing space and, possibly, a safer atmosphere while saving you cost. However, residing in a city opens you to new cultures and entertainment that can be easily accessed with public transportation. Are you choosing whether to live in the city or suburb? The two come with advantages and disadvantages for renters and homebuyers.

Suburbs offer affordability, space, and easier access to nature, while in cities you will get diversity, nightlife, anonymity, and convenience. Consider your lifestyle and habits, including things that you find important, and you will soon figure out whether living in the city or suburb is perfect for you. Where would you like to live?

Whenever you are ready to move to any of your city or suburbs, Pricing Van Lines out of state moving companies are ready to streamline the moving process.