Can’t Afford a Home in the City? Consider the Suburbs

Suburban living has its perks, including more spacious and affordable choices for first-time home buyers.
Taylor Getler
By Taylor Getler 
Updated
Edited by Dawnielle Robinson-Walker

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If you're a city dweller and have found yourself frustrated with the local real estate market, relocating to the suburbs might seem like an attractive possibility

Maybe you're reaching a different stage of your life — such as growing your family or approaching retirement — and you're dreaming of a backyard garden or a more laid-back pace.

Perhaps a permanent transition to remote work has allowed for more flexibility and opened up new ZIP code options for you. Or maybe you might simply want more square footage for your homebuying dollar.

Whatever your motivation, suburbs can offer a more affordable, and surprisingly appealing, alternative to the city.

Life changes lead to changes of address

About 28.2 million Americans moved in 2022, the most recent year data is available, according to the 2023 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement from the U.S. Census Bureau. Roughly 41% of moves were motivated by housing reasons, including wanting to transition from renting to homeownership, wanting a better property and pursuing more affordable housing. Over a quarter of movers did so for family-related reasons, including marriage and a desire to establish an independent household.

If you're one of the many people considering a move out of the city to get more space for your budget, you can narrow your search and start getting a realistic picture of what you can afford by comparing the median price per square foot of homes in your desired area. For example, data from Realtor.com shows that the median home listing price per square foot was $402 in Center City Philadelphia, while it was $266 just a few miles away in the suburb of Collingswood, New Jersey. For some families, that kind of price difference could add another bedroom within their budget, or space for a dedicated home office.

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