One decision can majorly impact your day-to-day life — whether to live in a city vs. the suburbs.
Both have their own unique spate of benefits and drawbacks to consider, so give it more thought than you may give to what type of wine to order with dinner (although that's still important).
Cities and suburbs vary widely by size and scope.
Cities are territories inside an urbanized area that are also inside a principal city, like Los Angeles or Atlanta. Of course, some cities aren't as big as those, so whether or not it's a small, midsize or large city depends on the population.
Suburban areas, however, are the territories outside a principal city, but that are still inside an urbanized area. Suburbs also range in size. For context, a small suburb is under 100,000 population, but a large suburb is greater than 250,000.
Suburbs are also considered lower-density areas. So they might have a similar population to that of a city, but it's spread out over more land. Commercial and residential zones are thus separated, unlike in cities, where they can literally be one on top of the other.
There are a lot of songs devoted to singing the praises of city life, and many people would shudder at the thought of relocating to the 'burbs.
Although the ability to get a churro at 2 a.m. might not make our list of the top three perks, it's still way up there. However, it's not all sunshine and roses, so check out these pros and cons of living in a city vs. a suburb.
The convenience factor is huge for city slickers, especially if you live, work and play there. Although cities do have their fair share of chains, restaurants are often locally owned and operated. Thus, they are more unique.
Entertainment, from bars and clubs to museums and other cultural amenities, is also more varied than in the suburbs. There are more employers (that density thing, again), so you're more likely to find or keep work nice and close to home.
Life in the city comes with an abundance of choices. Whether it's deciding between three amazing local pizzerias or three amazing local hospitals for that upcoming surgery, city areas simply have more options than the suburbs.
Cities are also more culturally diverse than their suburban counterparts, a trend that's likely to continue since 70 percent of U.S. cities are more racially diverse now than in 2010. So if you wish to surround yourself with a wide variety of people and cultures, city life is probably the way to go.
People who don't want to waste away their lives commuting through gridlock highway traffic often opt for a city residence.
Although some people prefer to have their own wheels, in certain cities public transportation options are so great that it's not even necessary to own a car! So whatever premium you pay on an in-town apartment is offset at least somewhat because you save on a car payment, gas and insurance.
All those people crammed in a relatively small land area can make it pretty loud. Traffic noise is the biggest culprit, with 80 percent of urban noise pollution due to cars, trucks, emergency vehicles and the like.
As electric and hybrid vehicles become more affordable and common, however, hopefully, this will start to taper off. But don't count on it.
Rent prices are usually (but not always) higher in the city versus the suburbs. A 2017 Forbes report found an average price difference of $600 per month, with some major cities even more than that! That's a pretty big chunk of change for most people.
Even though some of that is offset if you don't need a car, there's still the cost of public transportation to consider.
Air pollution in cities poses a major health hazard, especially for sensitive groups like those with allergies or asthma. Poor air quality is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. This is particularly a problem in low-income cities.
The suburbs catch a bad rep sometimes, but there are millions who swear by life in (comparatively) wide open spaces. Suburbanites do enjoy some pretty significant perks that evade city residents, but there are tradeoffs, too.
Everything's bigger in the suburbs. There's simply more land to go around per person, so as a result, apartments, houses, restaurants, roadways, green spaces and much more are larger, more plentiful and often better.
If you've ever navigated an SUV down a city side street you'll appreciate this distinction.
Cities are notoriously higher in crime than the suburbs, although activity in both types of areas is thankfully on the decline.
In 2014, rates of violent victimization for women and men, respectively in urban areas was 9.4 and 9.3 per one thousand people. This, compared with 7.8 (men) and 6.0 (women) in the suburbs. Property theft and other types of crime are also more common in cities versus the suburbs.
There's nothing to say that you won't still spend just as much money in the suburbs versus living in the city, but you will get more bang for your buck. Most things usually cost less the further you get from the principal city, such as gasoline, food, taxes and rent.
If you're okay with paying more with less to show for it (other than convenient city access), city life is just fine. Otherwise, the suburbs are a better choice.
A long and weary commute is often the price people pay for living in the suburbs. Unless you're lucky enough to find a job nearby, the city (or closer to it) is where employers are.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average commute time is 26.9 minutes, or nearly an hour both ways. Sure, some areas are less than that, but many are actually higher. Yikes!
A lot of suburban neighborhoods are pretty cookie-cutter in nature. They feature a lot of the same home/apartment styles, businesses, restaurants and so on. Although suburbs are becoming increasingly more diverse, culturally speaking, they're still no match for cities.
You might be able to walk to a place or two safely from your apartment, but the vast majority of the suburb will be out of reach without a car. This means a working vehicle, insurance and funds to maintain/gas up the car are not only advised but mandatory.
As long as you clearly understand your own situation and priorities, the choice between city vs. suburbs will be clear. Don't worry about other people's opinions, either. Everyone's circumstances are different, so make the decision that's right for you!