Myth No. 1: Real estate is less expensive in the suburbs
Historically, the average listing price of an urban home has been higher than a suburban home. But these days, don't expect to hit the suburbs for a bargain.
During the pandemic, listing prices in the suburbs have actually grown at a faster rate than in cities, according to realtor.com.
Currently, the median listing price of suburban properties within the 10 largest metros is growing by 5.2% year over year. In urban areas, the growth rate is only 2.4%.
That's true in Fairfield County, CT, where prices have risen an average of 33% since September 2019, according to Debbie Rehr, a licensed real estate salesperson for Compass Westport in Westport, CT.
Rehr, who lives in Weston, CT, says this area is only an hour's drive from New York City and is attracting attorneys, financiers, entrepreneurs, and other affluent professionals looking for places to live, relax, and raise children.
Myth No. 2: The suburbs are boring
Moving to the suburbs means giving up all kinds of fun activities and resigning yourself to a boring, lonely existence in the middle of nowhere, right? Wrong!
In March 2020, Wendy Silverstein left New York City with her husband for Columbia County—about 120 miles to the north, closer to Albany—to stay in their cottage on a lake. She was wary that small-town life would be too slow, too quiet, and there would be a dearth of things to do.
Instead, she was pleasantly surprised by the activities available, and she's adjusted to the different pace of life. In her time there, she says she’s discovered delicious farm stand offerings and terrific markets.
“There are lots of interesting neighbors and opportunities to meet people,” says Silverstein. “I love the quiet, and you can drive into small towns and small cities for interaction.”
Collins, who lives about 20 miles north of New York City in Larchmont, says the pandemic has brought together many neighbors who are now working from home, for a new network of socializing and support.
“Our neighbors are gifted artists, musicians, writers, and teachers,” she says. “During the pandemic, our neighborhood created an outdoor movie night so that kids can socially distance and have fun.”
Also, being in the suburbs often means you're closer to the great outdoors.
“Just outside of town, you can go apple picking in orchards and wine tasting at vineyards,” says Collins. “Skiing at a small mountain can be as close as an hour away.”
Myth No. 3: There’s no culture
Leaving the big city means you're no longer down the street (or a short subway ride from) world-famous museums, Michelin-starred restaurants, and other great cultural resources. But it turns out, the suburbs give cities a run for their money.
“I think many transplants are surprised with how much good food, wine, public schools, health and wellness, shopping—even high-end fashion—is right in town,” says Rehr.
Collins says the reality is that the suburbs north of New York City are vibrant. The towns of Larchmont, Mamaroneck, and Rye, for example, have many restaurants, shopping, kids' activities, and cultural experiences within walking distance or within a short bike ride or drive away.
“There are hiking trails nearby, outdoor music on weekends, and our local colleges and high schools have educational and cultural programs to experience,” says Collins.
Even during a pandemic, Silverstein says there is an incredible amount of culture where she lives.
“Towns nearby are becoming more and more interesting, with bookstores, food stores, and art exhibits,” she says.
Myth No. 4: The commute will be a nightmare
Those thinking of moving to the suburbs but keeping their jobs based in the city might be apprehensive about a hellish commute. It might not be as much of a slog as you'd think, though.
“Work in midtown Manhattan? In Larchmont, you can take a quick drive or walk to the train station. The Metro-North train gets you to Grand Central Station in 35 minutes,” says Collins.
There’s also faster job growth in the suburbs, so you might end up finding work closer to home.Some32% of U.S. jobs are in the suburbs of large metropolitan areas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
In addition, remote work is likely to be here to stay even after COVID-19.
A study by the research and advisory company Gartner found that 82% of business leaders say their organizations plan to let employees continue to work from home at least some of the time, while 47% plan to allow employees to do so permanently.
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