Urban vs Suburban: Which Is Right for Living?

By: ROS Team

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Suburban sprawl or urban core? Fast-paced excitement or friendly faces? The age-old debate of suburban area vs urban area living continues to spark discussion. This post will delve into the key factors to consider, from the cultural attractions of bustling city centers to the charm of close-knit communities in suburban neighborhoods. We’ll help you weigh the pros and cons of each lifestyle to discover the perfect place to call home.

What Is Suburban Area?

A suburban area is a residential area located on the outskirts of a city. It typically has a lower population density than the city center and consists mainly of single-family homes, with yards and driveways. Residents of suburbs often commute to work in the city center.

Suburbs grew in popularity after World War II, as people began to have more disposable income and cars became more affordable. This allowed them to live further away from the city center and enjoy a more spacious living environment.

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Suburban Community Feelings

Feelings about suburban communities can be a complex mix. Residents often appreciate the peace, safety, and sense of community, while also feeling a lack of excitement, diversity, and accessibility compared to urban areas.

Example of a Suburb

An example of a suburb is Maplewood, New Jersey. It is a residential community located about 10 miles west of New York City. Maplewood is known for its tree-lined streets, historic homes, and a strong sense of community. The town has a population of around 25,000 people and offers a variety of amenities, including parks, schools, and shops.

Pros of Living in the Suburbs

More Affordable:

Suburban areas typically offer more affordable housing options compared to urban centers. According to a report from Zillow, families can expect to pay as much as $71,237 more per year for basic housing and childcare expenses in urban areas like New York or Chicago compared to living in the suburbs.

Spacious Living:

Suburbs often provide more spacious housing options, including larger yards and homes with ample square footage. This allows families to enjoy more room for living, entertaining, and storage compared to cramped urban dwellings.

More Privacy:

Suburban neighborhoods tend to offer greater privacy due to lower population densities and fewer shared living spaces. Residents can enjoy a quieter and more secluded lifestyle, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Access to Nature:

Suburbs are often surrounded by natural landscapes, including parks, forests, and trails. This provides residents with easy access to outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and picnicking, promoting a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Lower Crime Rates:

Suburban areas typically experience lower crime rates compared to major cities. In 2021, the rate of violent victimization in urban areas was 24.5 victimizations per 1,000 people, which is more than double the rate in rural areas at 11.1 per 1,000 people.

Family-friendly Amenities:

Suburbs are known for their family-friendly amenities, including quality schools, recreational facilities, and community events. Families can enjoy a range of activities and services tailored to their needs, fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for raising children.

Cons of Living in the Suburbs

Longer Commute Times:

Suburban residents often face longer commute times to reach urban centers or places of employment. Reliance on personal vehicles or limited public transportation options can result in daily commutes that consume significant time and contribute to stress and fatigue.

Less Excitement:

Suburban areas tend to offer fewer entertainment and cultural attractions compared to vibrant urban centers. Residents may find a lack of diverse dining options, nightlife, and cultural events, leading to a perception of monotony and limited recreational opportunities.

Potential for Feeling Isolated:

Suburban living can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation, especially for individuals who are accustomed to the social connectivity of urban environments. The spread-out nature of suburban communities may hinder spontaneous social interactions and make it challenging to establish connections with neighbors.

Lack of Diversity and Cultural Opportunities:

Suburban areas may lack the diversity and cultural richness found in urban centers. Limited exposure to different cultures, lifestyles, and perspectives can result in a less dynamic and inclusive community environment. Residents may miss out on opportunities for cultural exchange, artistic expression, and multicultural experiences commonly found in cities.

What Is Urban Living?

Urban living refers to the lifestyle of residing in a densely populated area, typically a town or city. It’s characterized by close proximity to buildings, infrastructure, and a diverse population. Daily life is often fast-paced and convenient, with easy access to public transportation, shops, and cultural attractions.

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Urban Community Feelings

The feeling of an urban community can be a complex mix. It can be invigorating, with the constant energy and diverse crowds. There can be a sense of anonymity and freedom, but also a feeling of isolation amidst the masses. It can depend on the specific neighborhood, your connections, and how you choose to navigate the city.

Example of an Urban Area

The United States is home to many vibrant urban areas. One example is Los Angeles, California, the second-most populous urban area in the United States, with a population of over 18 million people.

Pros of Living in the Urban Area

More Job Opportunities:

Urban centers are hubs of economic activity, offering a wide range of job opportunities across various industries. Residents have access to diverse employment options, including corporate offices, startups, retail establishments, and service industries, facilitating career growth and advancement.

Amenities and Entertainment Are Easy to Reach:

Urban areas boast a plethora of amenities and entertainment options within close proximity. Residents can easily access restaurants, cafes, theaters, museums, shopping centers, and recreational facilities, enhancing their quality of life and leisure activities.

Access to Healthcare Facilities:

Urban areas typically feature a concentration of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, specialist practices, and urgent care centers. Residents benefit from convenient access to medical services, preventive care, and specialized treatments, ensuring their healthcare needs are met effectively.

Numerous Top-Notch Education Options:

Urban areas offer a wide array of educational institutions, ranging from prestigious universities and colleges to specialized schools and vocational training centers. Residents have access to high-quality education at all levels, fostering academic excellence and career development opportunities for individuals of all ages.

Easier Public Transportation Access:

Urban areas are characterized by well-developed public transportation systems, including buses, subways, trains, and light rail networks. Residents enjoy convenient and efficient commuting options, reducing reliance on personal vehicles and alleviating traffic congestion and pollution.

More Chances for Socializing and Networking:

Urban living provides abundant opportunities for socializing, networking, and community engagement. Residents can easily connect with diverse groups of people through organized events, cultural activities, volunteer opportunities, and professional networking functions, enriching their social lives and fostering meaningful relationships.

Cons of Living in the Urban Area

More Expensive to Live:

Urban living often calls for a higher cost of living, with elevated housing prices and rental rates, and daily expenses such as groceries and entertainment. Limited space and high demand play a part in inflated commercial and service prices, making it difficult for some residents to afford housing and maintain a desirable standard of living.

Fewer Green Spaces:

Urban areas typically have less green space compared to suburban or rural areas. Residents may have limited access to parks, gardens, and natural landscapes, resulting in reduced opportunities for outdoor recreation, relaxation, and connection with nature.

Higher Levels of Pollution:

Urban environment is associated with higher levels of pollution: air pollution from vehicular traffic, and industrial and construction activities. People residing in urbanized areas are exposed to traffic-based air pollutants and other toxicants thus developing respiratory issues, allergies, or other diseases thereby affecting the overall quality of life

Less Privacy:

The level of privacy is dramatically reduced in urban living with high population density as well as people residing close to others thereby experiencing noise and other disturbances leading to discomfort and intrusion.

Higher Crime Rate:

Urban areas tend to have higher crime rates compared to suburban or rural areas. Residents may face a greater risk of property crimes such as theft, vandalism, and burglary, as well as violent crimes including assault and robbery. Concerns about personal safety and security can impact residents’ daily activities and sense of well-being.

Limited Space:

Urban living is associated with limited living space, especially in densely populated cities where housing units are smaller and more expensive. Residents may experience overcrowding, cramped living conditions, and a lack of storage space, which can lead to feelings of claustrophobia and dissatisfaction with their living arrangements.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Urban and Suburban Living

Choosing between urban and suburban living involves weighing various factors that impact your daily life and long-term goals. Here are some key points to consider:


  • Pace of Life: Urban areas offer a fast-paced, dynamic environment with constant activity and diverse experiences. Suburbs offer a slower pace with a stronger sense of community and quietude.
  • Socialization: Cities provide ample opportunities for meeting people, attending events, and exploring various social circles. Suburbs tend to foster closer relationships with neighbors and a more family-oriented environment.
  • Access to Amenities: Cities boast a plethora of diverse restaurants, unique shops, storied cultural institutions, and entertainment options overflowing within walking distance or short commutes. Suburban amenities are often concentrated in specific walkable areas, still requiring reliable car usage.



  • Cost of Living: Urban areas generally have markedly higher housing costs, taxes, and living expenses compared to the suburbs due to demand and density. However, some urban areas offer surprisingly affordable housing and community options depending on one’s priorities and preferred location.
  • Transportation: Cities typically have robust, reliable public transportation networks, allowing residents flexible options to save money on car ownership and fuel. Suburbs often rely more on personal vehicles for work and school commutes, adding significantly to transportation costs.


Personal Preferences:

  • Space: Suburban homes typically offer more expansive living space, private yards, a sense of breathing room and separation from neighbors. Urban living frequently means cozier apartments or condos with less dedicated personal outdoor space.
  • Access to Nature: While some cities boast expansive parks and refreshing green spaces, suburbs offer easier, closer access to unspoiled nature like serene parks, winding forest trails, and hiking paths.
  • Safety: Crime rates fluctuate meaningfully within both urban and suburban neighborhoods. It’s crucial to diligently research and prioritize specific safety factors regardless of one’s preferred location. However, as already mentioned before, suburbs generally have lower crime rates as compared to their urban counterparts.

Urban vs Suburban: Key Differences

FeatureUrban AreaSuburban Area
Population DensityHighModerate-Low
HousingApartments, condos, smaller housesSingle-family homes, larger yards
Cost of LivingHigherModerate
TransportationPublic transit-centric (trains, buses, bicycles)Car-dependent
AmenitiesExtensive (restaurants, shops, museums, nightlife)Limited (need to travel to city for some)
Pace of LifeFast-paced, energeticSlower-paced, relaxed
Green SpaceLimited (parks, squares)More abundant (parks, nature trails)
CommunityDiverse, transientClose-knit, established
Job OpportunitiesAbundant and diverseModerate, mostly white-collar
Crime RatesGenerally higherGenerally lower
EducationPublic and private schools, often diversePublic schools, often high-rated
Noise and PollutionHigher levels of traffic noise, air pollutionLower levels of noise and pollution
Overall VibeBustling, exciting, diversePeaceful, family-oriented, connected to nature

Do More People Live in Urban or Suburban Areas?

Globally, more people live in urban areas than in suburban or rural areas. As of 2020, estimates suggest over half the world’s population resides in cities, with the trend projected to continue.

Is Urban Better Than Suburban?

Rather than saying one is inherently “better,” both urban and suburban living offer unique advantages and cater to different preferences. Carefully weigh your priorities in terms of lifestyle, budget, and personal needs to decide which environment best suits your ideal life.

Should You Choose to Live in the City or the Suburbs?

Deciding between suburban area vs urban area hinges on your priorities. Craving constant activity, diverse experiences, and walkable access to amenities? Go urban. Seeking a slower pace, more space, and potentially lower costs? Suburbs might be your fit. Weigh your lifestyle preferences, budget, and long-term goals to make the best choice for you.

Read Also: Suburbs Vs City: Which Is Right for You