Suburban, when defined, refers to anything related to or characteristic of suburbs. That part seems intuitive enough. A suburb is a residential area or community located on the outskirts of a city or urban center. Suburbs often offer quieter and more relaxed living compared to the nearby city centers, with a greater emphasis on green spaces and recreational areas.
However, there's still some confusion floating around about the "suburban" definition and what exactly constitutes a suburban setting. What lies beyond the white picket fence? We'll uncover this tricky definition and show you some pros and cons of living in this vaguely defined type of area below.
The definition of suburban varies from person to person because of the diverse and constantly changing features of these areas. Despite the confusion over the term, more than half of Americans identify with the label "suburban," according to a study by the American Housing Survey.
Different interpretations of what makes a suburb, well, a suburb depends on both location and experience too. Some major urban areas, like Atlanta or Nashville, endlessly sprawl to the point that the line between urban and suburban further blurs. In more compact cities like San Francisco, it's easier to draw those lines.
Further, diverse experiences with suburbs or suburban living influence the perception of the term, too. For some, the 'burbs connote success, "making it," quiet and safety. For others, it brings to mind a sterile, uninspiring, narrow-minded way of living that stunts growth and self-expression. Both viewpoints are valid, further complicating the definition.
There are, however, general defining characteristics that are traditional tale-tell signs of a suburban area.
As we've touched on, subjectivity is especially present when it comes to the whole suburban definition. There are some areas where residents resist being labeled as suburbs due to their distinct identities and characteristics. Some non-suburban claim examples include Cambridge, MA, Hoboken, NJ and Santa Monica, CA.
Residents of these areas often see them as a city in their own right due to numerous factors like rich history, vibrant culture and prominent landmarks like universities. However, if we reference back to our general defining traits, these areas absolutely would be considered suburbs instead of compact cities.
Suburban life has a lot of draws, helping contribute to the ever-changing nature of these areas. The suburbs are known to create a peaceful living environment. Because of the characteristic lower population density, residents experience a quieter and calmer environment which creates a drastic contrast to the city environment. This is especially appealing to people and families seeking a more serene living experience.
As popularly depicted in modern media, suburbs have spacious housing. We've seen this illustrated with the white picket fence surrounding a large yard for the picturesque family home, providing a visual representation of the suburban lifestyle that we know today. Even in apartments and townhomes, you're guaranteed larger square footage for a better price than you'd find in the city.
Suburbs often foster a strong sense of community through neighborhoods and like-minded individuals who value the calmer, quieter lifestyle. Through the local schools, parks, community centers and recreational facilities that are commonly available, opportunities for social interactions and community engagement abound.
The grass isn't always greener on the other side. Suburban life isn't for everyone, especially depending on your preferences and future dreams and aspirations. For one, suburban life typically equates to a dependency on cars. These areas aren't as walkable as city centers are, which means residents often rely heavily on vehicles for transportation. This also means experiencing traffic congestion, commute times and transportation costs.
We discussed some great community-building amenities suburban areas have to offer residents. These amenities are definitely not the same as city amenities, and it comes down to personal preference to determine if this is a pro or con. Suburbs typically lack cultural attractions, dining options and entertainment opportunities that are commonly found in larger cities.
The suburban American dream has been a cornerstone of the country's cultural fabric for decades, representing picture-perfect living for many individuals and families. The promise of suburban living includes good schools, safety, green spaces and a sense of community, in hopes of building a secure future for yourself and your family.
For many Americans, this dream was all about finding good opportunities. While this dream has evolved over time, contributing to the changing definition of suburban, it's still a symbol of hope for a happy life, for those who yearn for this. But we also know it's not for everyone. This telltale list of qualities determines whether it's suburban life or city life that fits you.
Your dream life is out there, whether it be in a bustling city center or in a suburban area. Find your perfect place today!