The Bekins Blog
The Secret of Moving to the Suburbs Without Losing the Perks of City Life
When you first moved to the city for college and stayed to build your career, you may have resolved never to leave. But now you’ve established yourself in your career and settled down to raise a family. At this stage in life, you’re not alone if you no longer view city life through rose-colored glasses. Gradually, you realize you’re tired of facing the realities of city life like:
- Finding parking spots
- Carrying groceries through streets and up flights of stairs
- Dealing with noisy neighbors
- Wrangling toddlers in small apartments with no yard space
Still, the city hasn’t entirely lost its allure. You hate to sacrifice what you love about the city just to overcome a few annoyances. Lucky for you, many suburban communities offer perks similar to city-dwelling but without the stuff that bothers you. If it’s time to consider a move to the suburbs, here’s how to do it without giving up what you love about city life.
Experience the Ambiance
The move from the city to the suburbs often causes people to wax nostalgic about the unique aspects of city dwelling. They don’t want to say goodbye to all-night take-out places, one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques, and well-maintained city parks. But, many suburban centers have similar perks. Plus, these sites are usually less crowded outside of city limits.
Make a list of your must-haves or nice-to-haves for a suburban community. Think rec centers, local theaters, concert venues, bars, nightclubs, or whatever else you typically do in the city. Then drive around and look for those options every time you go house hunting. Park the car and take a walk downtown. Go into the shopping mall. You might be surprised at the array of stores it offers. In short, be on the lookout for places that can become your new favorites.
However, be cautious about clinging too much to any one suburban downtown area. It’s only one factor in what creates a community’s atmosphere. Interact with the people you pass on the street. Many suburbs have replaced the isolated, city-life mindset with more neighborly patterns of interaction. Strike up a conversation with someone at the local coffee shop and ask about the area. Watch for friendly interactions among store clerks and customers to get a sense of the community atmosphere.
Visit Local Schools
In the city, a top school frequently means an expensive private school. But your kids can obtain a quality education at a public school in the suburbs. No wonder almost every family moving to the suburbs has “top-rated school system” at the top of their must-have list-even families without kids yet. As you evaluate area schools, examine these factors:
- Look beyond test scores. Kids are more than their test scores, and so are schools. Test scores are only an end way of measuring a school’s performance. Class size is a better indicator of how much personal attention your child will receive from teachers-smaller is better.
- Examine all grade levels. You might be making the move to the suburbs when your children are barely in preschool, but you could live in your new house until they head off for college. With that in mind, visit schools for all grade levels in the area. Make sure the middle school and high school options meet your education standards, too.
- Make sure your favorite extracurricular activities have community support. You can’t predict which hobbies your kids will adopt as they get older, but you can make a few good guesses. If you take your kids to the theater frequently, make sure the school district has a strong history of supporting the arts. If you attend sporting events, look for a school with an established sports program. You want your kids to have options when they start developing their non-academic skills.
Consider the Commute
For many people making the switch from city to suburb, the extended commute becomes a primary consideration. After all, what’s the point of finding a larger, quieter living space if you’re hardly home to enjoy it? For any community you consider moving into, think about these factors that will affect your commute:
- Public transportation. Does the thought of fighting rush hour twice a workday send your blood pressure through the roof? If so, look for a suburb with public transportation options built for commuters. Don’t just locate the local train station on the map. Actually visit it. You need to know about parking availability and overall convenience. You could even take a test train ride into the city to time the trip and gauge the crowds.
- Carpool lanes and toll roads. If you don’t mind driving, you’ll probably still want options to speed up your commute. When you make the hull out to the suburbs to house hunt, pay attention to the highway and calculate the cost of paying for less-crowded toll roads. Look out for carpool lanes. If you see any, ask around at the office if any co-workers would share the ride with you.
- Working from home. Increasing numbers of suburban dwellers have cut their commute down to the time it takes them to walk from the bedroom to the office-they telecommute. That might not be an option every day, but your supervisor might be willing to let you work from home a few days a week.
Finally, estimate how often you envision yourself heading into the city for reasons other than work. If you think you’ll visit it more than once or twice a month, look for suburbs just outside the main hub to cut down on your travel time. That way your favorite city spots won’t be too far away.
Your trek to the suburbs can yield many of the amenities that city life does. Use these tips to find the perfect community and home for you. Once you’ve found it, call a moving company to arrange moving your belongings. Get ready to make new memories that will last a lifetime in a space that won’t feel cramped as your family grows.
If you want to make the move from the city to the suburbs, a local agent in your area will be able to assist you with all of your moving needs.