The Cost of Living in the Suburbs

I’m clearly partial to the suburban lifestyle. I love the sense of community, the lack of noise, and the clean, breathable air. I also like the ability to take my dog for a walk and let her run on grass that isn’t that of a park, driving past children playing in cul-de-sacs and the ability to park in front of my house without paying a premium.

This is Suburban Finance, after all, so there are quite a few reasons why I prefer the suburbs to the city. However, there are also a few expenses that you typically only experience in the suburbs.

Commuters Costs

I’m one of the fortunate suburbanites that works in the suburbs as well, but many suburban families have to shell out quite a bit on gas and maintenance for their commute into the city. One of the Suburban Finance writers, Catherine, is one of those people.

This can really add up, as public transportation from the suburbs isn’t always efficient or a possibility for everybody. Let’s not even talk about the price of parking if you work in the city.

Car Costs

Many city dwellers don’t even have a car; they can typically get around from point A to point B with a transit pass, because transit is so efficient in the city.

Cars can be expensive, and the costs of having a car include not only insurance, gas, and the car itself, but also maintenance and, of course, depreciation.

Landscaping and Yard Maintenance

It’s not that nobody in the city has a property with a yard, but it’s true that most suburban dwellings have a much larger property than that of most city residences. After all, space is at a premium in the city and there’s not as much room to stretch out. Therefore, the land upkeep tends to be much more costly in the city.

Most city dwellers I know don’t really need a gas powered lawn mower because if they do have a yard it’s small enough to fathom mowing with a push mower. Some suburban lawns are expensive just in gas to cut!

Home Improvements

Now, I’m not saying city dwellers don’t have homes. However, suburban homes are larger generally than urban homes, and there are generally fewer condos and apartments and more single family dwellings in the ‘burbs.

As a result, home improvements can cost quite a bit more, because there is more space to.. well, improve.

Of course, many home improvements add value, such as the ones in the infographic below, so at the very least, that is positive.

home_improvement_infographic(This infographic is from Evolution Money).

While suburbanites do typically incur costs that city dwellers don’t, people who live in the city also incur costs that suburbanites may not have to incur (such as a higher cost of living, etc).

Have you noticed any costs that you incur because you live in either the city or the ‘burbs?


17 thoughts on “The Cost of Living in the Suburbs

  1. Luckily, I work at home so I don’t have commuting costs. We do pay for someone to mow our lawn, but our grass grows super slow and the total cost was only around $250 for all of 2013.

  2. I like to refer to the maintenance costs as the “The Home Depot Tax.” It’s real. Also, though implicit in the commuting costs, time is a big cost of commuting. I’ve done a balance of commuting and telecommuting over the last few years, and for me, time is the biggest downside of commuting.

  3. I’ve been living in the burbs for the last 1.5 years and have enjoyed it. There were definitely some upfront expenses that we needed after we bought our house like buying a lawn mower and shovels and hoses and ladders and all those types of things. However, I would much rather take care of my home myself than living in a condo in the city paying outrageous association fees.

  4. We live in the ‘burbs, but rent a townhouse. So, our lawn and home maintenance fees are covered in our rent.

    But we also spend less than city dwellers on our housing: We pay less in rent than our city-dwelling friends who live in a loft (1 bathroom, 1 large living space) and we have 2 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a garage, a yard, a laundry room, and an office.

  5. Love the infographic! I think suburbs are a lot less stressful to navigate…no crazy parking and traffic is less intense. It has some added costs but they are worth it to me. It’s a nice balance versus living in the boonies because the commute isn’t so bad!

  6. Because we live in the city, we will most likely have to send our kids to a private school which will be a HUGE cost for us (and reason why we will not have more than 2 children). If we were in the suburbs, we would most likely be more comfortable sending kids to public schools.

    But the upside is that we save a big amount of money on transportation costs because of the train and bus routes!

  7. Great points. I’m partial to the suburbs myself, but it does have its pros and cons as everything does. Commuting is a definite con, but it really helps to live as close to work as possible. Keeps gas and maintenance costs low.

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