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Urban vs. Suburban Neighborhoods - What Are The Differences?

Alcove Team · 7/18/22

Urban vs. Suburban Neighborhoods - What Are The Differences?

Moving to a new city is a fun and exciting process, but how do you decide what neighborhood to live in? Are you looking for a place with shops, restaurants, and entertainment within walking distance? Or would you prefer parks and a backyard? 

Deciding between living in an urban or suburban area of your new city is key to the experience you’ll have. This article breaks down what urban and suburban neighborhoods look like, what their differences are, and what you should consider when choosing the next neighborhood you’ll call home.

While there are no exact definitions or requirements for urban and suburban neighborhoods, we will break down the general ideas of both.

Urban Neighborhoods

Examples: Manhattan, NYC - Downtown San Francisco 

An urban neighborhood is one located in the heart of a metropolis. Urban neighborhoods are usually made up of condominiums and apartments and offer a fast-paced, city lifestyle.

Location

An urban neighborhood is located in the center of a city.

One of the main reasons people enjoy living in urban neighborhoods is location. With shorter commutes, access to better public transportation, and proximity to events and restaurants, the appeal falls in terms of convenience. 

Urban areas have well-planned infrastructure that optimizes space for living, businesses, and convenience. In this area, you might not even have a need for a car. Access to buses, metros, and taxis is common. You also will have the option to travel by foot or bicycle. 

Museums, concerts, athletic events, shops, and restaurants, are all usually in close proximity. This convenience allows you to maximize your time and spend less time commuting.

Cost

Living in a convenient location comes at a cost. Typically, living in an urban neighborhood is pricey. The average cost is higher compared to suburban neighborhoods and generally has less space. 

Finding more affordable urban neighborhoods may offer tradeoffs in terms of safety or desirability, but you'll have to understand each individual neighborhood's circumstances.

You should also keep in mind the cost of transportation you might save or added expenses if you intend to park a car.

For example, the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan is $3,700. The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in downtown San Francisco is $3,598. 

Space

Most homes in urban neighborhoods are condominiums, apartments, or townhouses.

Generally, an urban neighborhood will have a highly dense population with less space. This means the standard home will be smaller compared to a suburban or rural home. 

You also may not have access to private outdoor space. A local outdoor park may be a substitute to consider. 

How you utilize your space is important to consider when deciding if living in an urban neighborhood will fit your lifestyle.

Suburban Neighborhoods

Examples: East Hanover, NJ (NYC Suburb) - Berkeley, CA (SF Suburb)

A suburb is typically a smaller town or area outside of a larger metro area. Many people who live here are drawn to a larger home and commute into their corresponding cities for work. 

Location

Locations for suburbs can vary widely. A suburb maybe 20 minutes outside a city center or up to two hours away. These neighborhoods typically have more of a town feel rather than a city vibe. They still have everything you need like grocery stores, retail, and doctors. Lots of people live in suburbs, but they’re more spread out in terms of space and living. 

Some suburbs are known for better school districts or safer crime rates compared to inner city neighborhoods. 

Suburban neighborhoods usually mean that you’ll have a commute if you work in the city. Going to city events like concerts or new restaurants will take longer to reach. Generally, people in the suburbs drive and aren’t able to rely completely on public transportation. Sometimes, there are available trains or buses that will help your commute into the city. 

Cost

Generally, a pro to living in the suburbs is the lower cost. In the suburbs, you can get a lot more space for the price. Single-family homes are much more common in the suburbs and typically cater to a family lifestyle with backyards, more bedrooms, and access to more living space. 

You should consider the cost of commuting such as gas or train tickets. The cost of groceries and other services may also be more affordable compared to staying in an urban area too. 

For example, the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in East Hanover, NJ is $2,500. The average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Berkeley is $3,200. 

Space

In the suburbs, you are much more likely to have a backyard, more bedrooms, and space to move around. Bigger parks and hiking or biking trails may be more accessible. 

This is appealing to people that like the outdoors, need more space for hobbies, or generally prefer a more private living situation.

Where Should You Live - an Urban or Suburban Neighborhood?

Deciding where you should live should ultimately come down to what your values are and what you can afford. If you prefer a faster pace of life, an urban neighborhood would likely fit your preferences. If you don’t mind a commute, it may be worth it to move to the suburbs to save a substantial amount of money. 

Living in different types of neighborhoods throughout your life may also be appealing. Understanding your values regarding space, money, hobbies, and preferences is key to picking the best neighborhood for yourself.

If you’re looking for a new place to call home, check out Alcove’s co-living opportunities! Alcove offers affordable living that is less than the cost of a studio or 1-bedroom apartment. With new locations being added regularly, you’re sure to find a great fit.