When thinking about where to live, there are numerous factors to be taken into account. After all, a person’s individual preferences, lifestyle, and career circumstances are all things that tend to dictate where they call home.
Perhaps you’re in the position of debating whether to rent in the city or find a place out in the suburbs. If so, there’s no need to panic. Doing a little research beforehand can actually make the decision-making process a lot easier on you.
Below are some general questions to ask yourself as you weigh the possibility of moving to a suburban rental:
Are You Ready for a Longer Commute?
There’s no doubt about it: public transit in most cities is a convenience that’s often taken for granted. Sacrificing the comfortable routine of grabbing a coffee, strolling to the nearest metro station, and sitting back with your headphones for 15 to 20 minutes is worth it for some, but it can definitely be a dealbreaker for others.
Given the ever-changing nature of today’s workforce, it might be an easy call to make if you work from home or work flextime hours. However, if you have a job in the city but live out in the suburbs, longer commutes — and rush-hour traffic — will likely become your daily reality. Highway accidents, road work, and other unexpected slow-downs can add a stressful component to the morning grind. Getting up an hour or so earlier than what you are accustomed to could also prove to be an adjustment. And then there’s the challenge of finding parking, unless you’re lucky enough to have designated parking at work.
Sure, you can save money by not riding the bus or metro, but commuting longer distances often necessitates car ownership, along with all of the associated expenses like insurance, gas, maintenance, and possibly even monthly car payments. When determining what kind of transportation you’re going to need to take you to and from your suburban rental, you’ll find keeping these added costs in mind and taking a close look at your overall budget to be essential tasks.
Have Your Heart Set on a Specific Location?
Ever been drawn to a specific area and hoping to rent a one-bedroom unit in it only to find that none were available? Sometimes it’s a good idea keep an open mind and broaden your search, looking at a few different zip codes within the same general area. Utilizing online resources like Zillow can help you find properties that are well within your budget and have the amenities you’re looking for.
Don’t make the assumption that a community is automatically going to be more affordable based strictly on population density or demographics. Rents can and do fluctuate from one neighborhood to the next. A rental in one area might be considerably more expensive than a rental only a mile or two down the road with the same square footage. There might be nearby attractions, commerce, or any number of other things that can drive up prices in a particular location.
Keep a short list of must-haves handy, identifying the things you are willing to compromise on as you go. Have some questions at the ready for landlords to prevent any potential misunderstandings. Remember that suburban rentals may not be as modern or equipped with the most up-to-date features as their urban counterparts. Though it’s often true that there isn’t quite as large of a rental market the farther you get outside of urban centers, you’re bound to still have some options to consider. Remaining somewhat flexible to exploring all those options is the key.
Will You Enjoy the Solitude of a Suburban Rental?
Or will it drive you crazy? The answer to that question depends on both your personality and the kind of environment you prefer. The main draws for many who relocate to the suburbs are their relatively quiet surroundings, safety, and privacy as compared to those of a major metropolis. If those things are important to you, you’ll probably welcome the change of pace. After all, parents can have peace of mind in giving their children free rein to play and explore, and you typically won’t have to worry about noisy traffic outside your window at all hours of the day.
Though these advantages are appealing to many, living in the suburbs can also be a lot less exciting for others. Leaving behind the cultural institutions, shopping centers, and nightlife of a big city can leave many former urbanites feeling like they are missing out on life. If you are used to the hustle-bustle and familiar activities of a city, you might find living in a less populous area to be isolating.
That being said, you can still have a healthy social life in a suburban area and find things to do. It just requires you to go out of your way to make connections and make more of an effort to get involved in the community. Checking out what kinds of social opportunities an area has to offer before moving there can be a great help to you when it comes to making an informed choice. You might also find communicating with a current or former resident of the area insightful in getting a better idea of what you can expect living there to be like.
Where Do You See Yourself in the Next Few Years?
People often structure their living situation around the relationships they have. If you are making the move with a partner, you might consider renting a home. If you’re currently single and have no immediate plans to start a family, an apartment or small condo might be more up your alley. Think about what direction you see your life taking in the near future and plan accordingly.
Suburban rentals often vary greatly in terms of the properties available. Whatever your needs may be, you can usually find what you’re looking for and potentially pay less in rent than you would living in in the heart of the city. Whether you choose to rent a room in a residence there or are looking for more space in a leased home, there’s a lot available in the suburbs. You may even want to go for a short-term lease agreement if you’re looking to do a trial run to see if suburban living is right for you. If you find that it is a good fit, you can always renew the lease later down the line.
Deciding where to live is ultimately a personal choice that each tenant must be prepared to thoroughly research and consider on their own. Making the transition can be confusing at times, but taking some preemptive measures beforehand can pay off and lead to an outcome you know you’ll be satisfied with.