How to Choose a Suburb When You Really Love the City

Written by Posted On Friday, 24 April 2015 08:20

If you're a prospective home buyer, you've probably thought at least a little about the type of community you want to live in. Much has been discussed in the media recently about the benefits and desirability of living in an urban center versus buying a home and settling down in the suburbs. 


Perhaps you are in the market to buy a home in the suburbs, but love certain features of urban living or hope to avoid the strip mall-laden monotony characterized by much suburban sprawl. But there are also many benefits to living in certain suburbs, from housing costs to schools to crime rate. With urban hubs extending ever more outward, there are plenty of suburbs with excellent accessibility to the cultural and employment opportunities of big cities.


If you're a city lover at heart, it's important to remember that not all suburbs are created equal; it's not all cul-de-sacs, cookie cutter homes, and endless parking lots. Here are a few features of some of the best suburbs that manage to maintain an urban "feel" without some of the expense and space limitations of urban living.


Multiple transportation options. 

One appealing feature of urban living can be its walkability and the lack of necessity to own, maintain, and park a car. But if you live in the suburbs, there are a lot of options for getting to work in the city – taking a train downtown isn't the only commuter option anymore. Rideshare opportunities are becoming more prevalent and their growth is expanding into nearby suburbs. Zipcar, a car sharing service, is an alternative to car ownership with multiple pick-up sites in both the city and surrounding suburbs, while bike sharing programs like Hubway can help you get around once you're in the city. Some suburbs are even beginning their own bike share programs to help get around locally. 


Even as alternative transportation options abound, telecommuting is becoming more common. More and more professionals are taking advantage of advancing technology and working from home, eliminating the commute altogether.


Downtown revival. 

Often, suburbs have centers as charming as those of any large city, with restaurants, performance venues, and cultural opportunities of their own. Thriving suburban centers even mimic the city with opportunities for night life as well as amenities like libraries and parks. Recent investment in suburban town centers has made for downtown areas with shopping and dining as varied as you might find in a big city.


Multi-family housing. 

Once the domain of the McMansion, American suburbia is beginning to answer the call for downsizing and simplicity. Funky townhomes and apartment buildings (sometimes in revived existing structures) are becoming more numerous in the suburbs as an alternative to the big single-family home. Although alternative housing is most easily found in the suburbs that are "closer in" to the city, shopping around a bit might reveal some surprising options even farther away from big city centers.


When it comes to buying a home, finding a suburb – or even a neighborhood – that is right for your lifestyle largely comes down to personal taste. As with any homebuyer, if you're a city dweller looking to buy in the suburbs, you should make lists of pros and cons and rank the amenities and features of a community that are most important to you. After this initial analysis, it's important to partner with a real estate agent who knows the suburbs well and can help target the perfect home in the perfect setting for you. 



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Kristin Brown

Kristin Brown is a realtor for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Lexington, MA. As a lifelong Lexington resident, Kristin has deep local roots. She has served Lexington and the surrounding communities for eight years, working with buyers, sellers and developers. She is 110-percent committed to achieve all of her clients expectations. Kristin graduated for the University of Massachusetts and is a member of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, MAR, NAR, MLS-PIN, Women's Council of Realtors, and a recipient of The International Elite Award.

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