City vs. Suburban Life: A Comparison
I actually got this request for a couple people after we relocated to North Carolina from Chicago this summer. Honestly, it wasn’t too big of a shock for me because I grew up in a similar area in Maryland and really was starting to miss things like nature and having a yard – especially during a pandemic lockdown. I go back and forth because I love both places for different reasons, and once travel is safe again I want to go back to visit. I made so many great friends there and I really just love the city as a whole.
There were other things that factored into our move, such as being closer to family, but the following are more objective differences to note between the two. These could vary depending on city location and what your preferences are, but these are the biggest pros and cons for me between city and suburban living.
Convenience – we were in a great location in Chicago and everything we needed was within a few block radius. We often walked to Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores, which made grabbing things we were craving or forgot super easy.
Access – one of the great things about living in a city is the access to so many different types of stores, restaurants, and even more ease of travel since major airports are often found near them.
Public transportation – I liked being able to drive my car around because sometimes public transportation was slower, but for the first couple years I lived in Chicago, public transit was a lifesaver. As long as the city does it well (Chicago does, D.C. in my opinion does not), it’s a really great option and a good reason to not own a car and incur further costs.
Holidays – I love the holidays in a city. There’s really nothing like them.
Inclement weather planning – If you’re in a city that doesn’t really have inclement weather, then this doesn’t really apply, but living in Chicago we definitely had our fair share of cold, snow, and ice over the years. Because we lived right downtown, the plowing and maintenance was always amazing and the weather never really impacted our ability to carry on as usual. The suburbs of Chicago were another story and often suffered when we had hard winters.
Fitness – there are always so many fitness options in cities. From big box gyms to any kind of boutique option you may want, there was always something. I really liked that.
Cost of living – one of the reasons we moved out of the city was because with our growing family, we needed a bigger place. If we got a bigger place, we would have wanted it to be in the city, but prices were way too expensive for the amount of space we would get. Things are just more expensive in a city. Usually, wages tend to reflect that, but when looking at larger places to live, we just didn’t feel like the cost was appropriate for what we would be getting in space.
Schools – this may not be a concern for everyone, but with children we would have to start thinking about the quality of schools. There were some good districts near us, but I remember walking around and not seeing many school buses or knowing where kids went to school near us. It felt weird for me to send our kids to school in a city, mostly because that’s not how I remembered growing up. There’s certainly nothing wrong with it, but it made me feel anxious when I’d start thinking about it.
Nature – I love nature. In Chicago, we lived in a high rise that didn’t even have a balcony, so it was tough for me sometimes. We were very close to Lake Michigan, but I was still missing things like woods and trees and exploring. Being back on the East coast with access to so much nature and wildlife has really helped my soul.
Space – I mentioned that in Chicago we didn’t have a balcony, so the fact that we have a fenced-in backyard here has been amazing. We have more space to live in, which has been really nice.
Cost of living – in contrast to Chicago, the cost of living here in North Carolina is much better. We were able to get a larger house for less money, and it felt much better this way.
Less convenience – there definitely isn’t much walking to and from stores here. Every trip involves driving, which I can’t say that I hate because I’m someone who loves driving. Things are definitely more spread out and take longer to get to.
Inclement weather planning – the winter has only just started here, so I can’t say for certain that the planning for things like snow removal is less organized, but I can certainly assume it based on my previous experience growing up in Maryland. That, and the fact that it was raining the other day and I saw multiple signs on the side of the road to “be careful in the inclement weather.” It’s generally warmer here, so I don’t expect a ton of snowfall anyway, but I assume when it comes, it puts things at a standstill.
Diversity – this could apply to people (depending on where you are) or businesses, but either way, there definitely aren’t as many options in the suburbs. I miss the ability to get whatever kind of food I wanted in Chicago and also the different fitness experiences as I mentioned above.
Do you have any to add? What are some of your pros and cons for city or suburban living?