Compare Cost of Living: City vs. Suburbs

Living in the city can be fun and exciting. If your job is also there, living in the heart of it all isn’t just fun, but convenient. However, when deciding where to live, it’s important to compare cost of living in the city versus the suburbs.

Forbes reports that the average rent in a U.S. city is $1,848 per month. In the suburbs, rent drops to $1,269 per month — $578 less per month than city living. In major cities like Boston, Chicago and Dallas, living in the city costs at least $600 more per month. Here’s what to consider when making the decision to live in the city or suburbs.

Commuting Costs

If your job is in the city, commuting from the suburbs can be costly. In large cities, public transportation and commuter rail passes can easily run between $100-200 per month depending on where you live and what part of the city you commute to.

On the other hand, driving from the suburbs to the city is costly in terms of gas and wear and tear on your car. Not to mention the stress that rush hour traffic can bring. There’s also the cost of parking and any additional transportation to your office if it’s too far to walk.

Time

If you do commute to the city from the suburbs, you’ll need to consider the time involved. In some major cities, it’s not uncommon for workers to commute two hours every day. The loss of time with your family due to a long commute is something you have to be OK with sacrificing. On the plus side, time spent commuting on public transportation (such as a bus or a train) can be used productively — listening to a podcast, catching up on news or reading or working. Time is hard to quantify in terms of actual cost of living, but there’s no doubt it should be a consideration when weighing pros and cons of living in each area.

Lifestyle

In the suburbs, you might be able to afford a home with more space. If a yard is important to you or you want to buy a home, then the suburbs may be just the separation from the city you need — and you’ll get more bank for your buck in terms of real estate. Suburbs that are closer in to the city — known as close-in suburbs — can be a nice compromise. Close-in suburbs are just a short commute via public transportation to downtown areas. In fact, millennials see close-in suburbs as a compromise between city life and suburban life.

“Millennials love urban areas but are finding they want more space, affordability, cars and the parking spaces for them as they gain more wealth and get ready to settle down and have children,” notes The Pew Charitable Trusts. For example, in the Chicago metropolitan area, suburbs like Evanston offer many of the amenities of urban life such as good restaurants and good schools, but also a fair amount of open space as well.

Deciding where to live is a choice that impacts your lifestyle in many ways. Take the time to compare cost of living and determine what’s best for you.

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