aerial view suburb

Are you better off among the bright lights of the big city or the quiet streets of suburbia? It’s a choice many people make early in their adult lives and reassess later as their priorities, careers and family situations evolve. Metropolitan areas can offer robust job markets, vibrant culture and extensive services, while the suburbs often provide more affordability, better schools and a greater sense of community. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to live in the city or the suburbs.

What kind of home do you want?

A single-family home with a yard, a garage and an optional picket fence is a classic vision of the American Dream. In countless suburban and rural communities, that dream is attainable for many residents. In large cities, however, smaller houses, apartments or condos are the norm, which means interiors are cozier and private outdoor space and parking can be uncommon. If you’re not ready to downsize your dream home, city living can be a tough sell.

How much are you willing to pay?

The cost of living is often a significant difference between urban and suburban areas. Living in the city is almost always more expensive, especially when it comes to housing and car ownership expenses. However, making use of public transit and multi-unit housing may allow you to cut some transportation, maintenance and utility costs. With a flexible budget or a willingness to adapt your lifestyle, city living can be feasible.

What kind of environment do you want?

In large cities, more people often means more crowds, noise, pollution and crime. Some residents relish the hustle and bustle and grit of urban living, while others prefer the relative serenity, safety and cleanliness that smaller communities often offer. What kind of atmosphere you can thrive in – or at least tolerate – will help determine where you should live.

Are good schools important to you?

Suburban communities have long been known for offering superior school districts compared to many large cities. Some big cities do have standout public schools, but their private institutions are often the strongest option for those who can afford them. If you have children or are thinking of having them, this is an important factor to keep in mind.

How do you spend your time?

Where is your current job located, and where might your next one be? Do you enjoy spending time in nature, or do you prefer manmade diversions? Are you a homebody, or do you get out of the house whenever you can? Do you love driving your car, or would you rather walk or hop on a bus to get where you’re going? Convenient access to your job and the activities and amenities you value are important considerations when choosing between the city and the suburbs.


Deciding between an urban or suburban address ultimately means making some tradeoffs in favor of other benefits. In recent years, the cities have had a strong draw for graduating college students, the suburbs have remained popular with families and an increasing number of empty nesters have moved into urban homes. By asking yourself the questions above and doing some research on the places you’re interested in, you’ll be better prepared to decide which location is right for you.