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What to Know About Leaving the City for the Suburbs

By Jamie Richardson | August 27, 2020

This year hasn’t been what any of us expected. It started in March when the first recognized cases of COVID-19 started in the United States and there’s been a lot of turmoil since then. 

Cities, primarily New York City, were very hard-hit by the pandemic. There were lockdowns, which are still going on in some places, and also social unrest. 

All of this has created an environment that some say is causing an exodus from America’s big cities. 

Post-Pandemic Real Estate Trends 

From the fears of COIVD-19 spreading in densely populated areas and in apartment buildings to the concern about feeling safe in your own home, there are some things that are going against cities right now. 

These factors have had a big impact on the national real estate market. 

While the cities are seeing some of their lowest occupancy rates and home sale rates in many years, suburban areas are seeing record-breaking real estate transactions. 

It’s likely not just the pandemic itself and the increasing crime rates we’re seeing in some cities this summer that is an issue. 

Many people are realizing that following lockdowns, they’d like to have more space and outdoor areas that they can’t get in the city. 

A lot more people are also working home, potentially for the foreseeable future, meaning amenities like a home office or a home gym become increasingly important. 

According to Business Insider, some of the cities where Millennials are leaving in the highest numbers across the country include:

  • New York City
  • Chicago
  • Washington, DC
  • St. Louis
  • Miami

Data from a recent Harris Pool found that urban residents were twice as likely than suburban and rural dwellers to have recently looked for homes or apartments to rent or buy. That poll was conducted at the end of April.

As well as the factors listed above, many urban residents say there just aren’t the things that made city living appealing for them anymore, whether that’s schools, bars, restaurants, or theater. That can make people more likely to shift their real estate priorities toward things like space. 

The Benefits of Moving to the Suburbs

For people who are still on the fence, there are some suburban benefits.

The biggest that’s perhaps most relevant right now is the fact that you have more indoor and outdoor space. It can provide you with more privacy, more distance from your neighbors and it can be a life-saver if your entire family is working and learning from home. 

When you have private outdoor space, it can improve your quality of life as well, especially if you’re skipping vacations right now. There’s play space for your kids, space for your pets, and you can turn your outdoor area into an oasis with a pool, barbecue, or anything else that works for your family’s needs. 

You get a lot of bang for your buck in most suburbs compared to the city. Cities are incredibly expensive, and even if you move to a relatively expensive suburb, you’re probably still going to get a lot more for your money whether that means square footage, a yard, or high-end features and finishes. 

Suburban living is quieter, and while some urbanites do love the sounds and action that’s always around them, others may find it tiresome. 

The suburbs tend to have lower crime rates than big cities. That’s just a general trend across the board regardless of the big city in most cases. 

Of course, it’s only fair to weigh the possible downsides of a suburban move before jumping in. 

You may have a long work commute, and if you don’t already have one, you’re probably going to have to buy a car. 

There aren’t as many cultural venues in the suburbs, and you may have fewer job opportunities, although telecommuting could help you overcome this downside. 

Tips for Moving to the Suburbs

Take the time to get to know the neighborhood and make sure you love it. When you move to the suburbs, your neighborhood can be just as important as the house you choose. If you have kids, you may want something family-friendly. If you don’t have kids, you might want something offering walking distance to restaurants or theaters. 

Take some time to walk or drive the neighborhood at different times of day and on the weekends to get a feel for what the vibe is. 

You should also drive your potential commute at least once or twice to make sure it’s doable. Sometimes you may not realize just how long a commute is until you’re sitting in traffic and actually doing it. 

Look into the schools in the community too. 

A lot of suburban areas and smaller cities have worked to be more interesting and have more things to do, so don’t count them out as being boring right away, without taking some time to get to know the area. 

If you’re on the fence about a suburban shift, but it’s something to consider, don’t panic-buy. 

It’s easy when things get stressful, which can happen in a city pretty quickly, to think the city is over and you have to flee right away. 

There are downsides to that, though. 

For example, if you own a home in a city, will you be able to sell it if the market is down in that city?

Are you ready to take a significant loss without waiting to see if things turn around where you live?

It’s a time of transition in many cities in the U.S., and some are struggling right now, but whether or not a true mass exodus is happening, we really don’t know. If you are considering a move to the suburbs, think about what you’re giving up versus what you’re getting in return. Choose a suburb and a community that reflects your interests and your priorities, just as you do the same with the actual home you choose.

Jamie is a 5-year freelance writer who enjoys real estate. He is currently a Realty Biz News Contributor.
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