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The booming housing market has seen more people leaving the city to buy homes in suburban communities. Thanks to movies and TV shows, the phrase “the suburbs” conjures up images of cookie-cutter houses with green lawns and white picket fences that you can wave to your neighbors over while you barbecue on a grill.
While that picture of the suburbs might ring true on the big screen, in reality, you’ll find much more in most suburbs. In truth, there are pros and cons of living in the suburbs, the same as living in the heart of a city. Before you write off the suburbs, it’s important to know what they’re like.
But what exactly does it mean to live in the suburbs, and does it match your short- and long-term housing needs? Before you pack up your moving pod and head out into the suburbs, or deeper into your city, let’s take a look at some common myths about moving to the suburbs and what you can expect.
They’re only for families
Based on what we see in a lot of sitcoms, movies, and books, the suburbs are where people move when they are starting a family. While that may be true for some people, suburban life can be equally appealing for couples without children or single adults.
For example, if you’re an animal lover buying your first home, moving into a house in the suburbs can provide an ideal life for your pets. Your dog will love a home with a yard, and your cat will enjoy the scenery out the windows.
Homes in the suburbs also tend to be more affordable per square foot than urban residences. So if you’re looking to have more room for your hobbies and lifestyle, you can get more space for your dollar.
If you’re single or child-free and you worry about being outnumbered by families, you don’t need to be. According to recent census results, there is approximately the same percentage of families with children living in urban areas as there are in the suburbs.
All of the homes look the same
While it is true that some neighborhoods, particularly planned communities, may have a lot of new builds that look the same as a model home, you can also find plenty of variety in architecture and style in the suburbs.
As you scope out homes in the suburbs, you’ll find a variety of options if newer builds aren’t your style. Depending on where you live, you can find everything from Victorian and Colonial Revival homes to Mid-Century Modern and Craftsman.
Many suburban homes also look more like what you’d expect to find in a city. You can find row houses and multi-family homes, which are often centered around small parks or a community pool.
Before you start seriously house shopping, it’s important to work with an expert agent who understands what kind of character you’re looking for in a home and how to find it locally. Check out these tips on how to find the right agent who will help you find a home that matches your personality and style.
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You have to have a green thumb
If having a lush green lawn with space for a kitchen garden and flowers is on your list, you can certainly find space for that in the suburbs. But just like you’ll find various home styles in the suburbs, you’ll also see an assortment of lots and yards.
In most cases, lots and yards reflect your local environment. A home in Tucson, Ariz., is more likely to have a pool while home in Upstate New York is more likely to have trees and bushes.
It’s cheaper to live there
While it’s true that you’re more likely to get more square footage per dollar in the suburbs, other expenses come with living in a bigger home.
When you buy a single-family home, you’re responsible for all maintenance. While you can call your superintendent when the water heater goes out in a rented apartment, becoming a homeowner means you’ll need to hire an expert to make the repairs.
In some cases, you may also move into a neighborhood with a Homeowners Association that charges monthly or annual fees. Typically, you’ll receive some perks in exchange for your fees, such as lawn maintenance, snow removal, or access to a neighborhood pool. But these expenses can add up.
You can also expect to pay more money in taxes when you live in the suburbs. Not only will you pay based on that extra square footage in your home, but you will also be taxed for your lot.
When you live farther away from the theaters, arenas, and vibrant bustle of the city, it may feel like there is nothing to do out in the suburbs. In actuality, there is still plenty to do, though it may look a little different than what you’re accustomed to in urban communities.
With more people moving to the suburbs, there are more restaurants and stores available. And not all of those restaurants and stores are chains, thanks to an increasing number of smaller businesses moving out to the suburbs for a chance at the cheaper property.
They lack diversity
One of the most common reasons people give for wanting to live in a city compared to the suburbs is a perceived lack of diversity. While residential segregation continues to plague parts of the United States today, suburbs are becoming increasingly diverse. You can find more languages being spoken in communities today than 20 years ago, and schools are becoming increasingly diverse with students coming from various countries.
If living in a diverse community is important to you, ask your real estate agent for information about suburbs and neighborhoods that are rich in culture.
Take a look at this list of questions you should ask your agent before you start viewing homes. An expert agent will be able to help you decide whether a suburban or urban home is best for you.
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