To burb or not to burb?

6 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

As families decide to have more children, or once their children become of school age, many start to contemplate whether or not to move to the suburbs. Depending on which suburb you choose to live in, the cost of living can be much lower and the quality a lot higher. However, this decision is very individual and really depends on what factors individuals value most highly on the list as well as each couple's personality (ie. are you a city or a suburban person at the end of the day). As myself and many of my friends have faced this decisison, i have been in many conversations about the pros and cons of each. So this post is dedicated to all families that are contemplating this issue....please feel free to add comments if there are any other factors that have not been included in the table below. What would also be interesting, is comments from families that have moved to the burbs and then back to the city after a short time or vice-versa.


Real estate is high and space is relatively smaller in the city compared to the suburbs. You are effectively paying for the proximity to the capital and convenience of everything right at your doorstep (work, school, shopping). Because apartments generally need to be smaller, kids will often share rooms. Families tend to be 1- or 2-kid household.

Space in the suburbs is generally better but this does also depend on what suburb you choose. The closer the suburb is to the city, the more desirable, and the higher the price. But still, suburbs offer a better quality of life for kids. Just think, your kids can have their own backyard, ride their bikes and scooters nearby, and have their own bedrooms and/or playroom! So go ahead, have that brood of kids! But then there is that daily commute……will I ever get to see my kids?

Activities related to having more space: Do suburban kids tend to be more athletic than city kids?

City kids with a natural inclination towards sport have to actively seek out sport. On the other hand, in the suburbs, sports tend to play a bigger role as schools have larger facilities than the average city school. As a result, a naturally sporty child has lots of room to grow in this environment.


In the city, everything is at your doorstep, you can walk to the grocery store, the train station, to school, its brilliant. You can certainly choose a location in the suburbs that is closer to the train station/supermarkets, for a premium price although you will still have to do some driving. So, if you don’t have a driver’s license, you better get one. Coz you are going to have to drive, drive, drive…….

Proximity to family

Many city bodes are far from family in most cases, and depend more on local neighborhood networks and babysitters. A large number of families that move to the suburbs want to be closer to family. So nice for your children to grow up close to their grandparents, aunts, and uncles…you can’t quantify this!


Nannies can live out in the cities because there is a better transportation system (trains and buses) (ie they can come first thing and leave at the end of the day for the dual income family). In the suburbs, nannies tend to ‘live in’ since you have more space, and your babysitter can have privacy after work hours in most cases. Aupairs are very popular in the suburbs. Because of the need to drive, you have to either trust your nanny’s driving skills or you commit to hiring local taxis everywhere (to schools, after school activities, etc).

Schools (the number one factor!) And in this case, we are talking about public schools

Generally, good public schools in the city tend to be located in the more affluent neighborhoods. Why? Its all about the size of the endowment, schools with a higher endowment are able to offer better enrichment programs (like art, music, dance), which may or may not be funded by the government. So, it’s a trade-off between space again and school. You might choose to stay in a smaller apartment in a great neighborhood so your child can attend the local public school. However, there are many gifted programs out there from city to city….

The quality of public schools in the suburbs tends to be better on average than in the cities. Many families tend to live in the city until their child reaches kindergarten….so look out for a big influx of families from the city to the burbs. Another time that families tend to leave the cities, is when their children are about 10 or 11….and are entering “middle school’ in the states…or primary 6 in the british system.


Cities tend to have more racial, socioeconomic, class, family structure and religious diversity than the suburbs. Being able to deal with diversity of all types is an asset for our kids – the world is becoming increasingly less focused on diversity and more on meritocracy. Diversity in the suburbs tends to be less but this depends on your neighborhood.

Cultural enrichment

Most cities are flush with different museums, plays, ‘free’ cultural activities like music festivals, etc. While there may be a smaller selection of cultural enrichment in the suburbs, parents can also drive into the city for a wider selection.

Social network

In the city everyone appears more skeptical of strangers. Hence, several friendships that are made in the park or the playground are quite superficial and don’t go beyond that setting. This is both refreshing (being able to air your dirty laundry to a stranger) as well as frustrating (lack of bonding).

In the suburbs, it may be challenging to meet people especially if you have young children at home and everyone is ‘in their car’ or playing in their own backyard. Similar to the city, playground or park friendships may be superficial. One may seek other outlets for more permanent friendships: like the local country club, religious organizations.

Street smart vs. suburban innocence

Kids in the cities tend to be exposed to the rawer sides of life: beggars .Kids may walk home from school at a later age due to security issues. As a result, city kids tend to be more street smart and may grow up faster. Is this a good thing? Conversely, it may be easier to insulate children in the suburbs from the harsh realities of life…and so they can maintain their innocence for longer. The big bad world is tough…..and its nice not to have to live in that world until one is ready.

Conversely, it may be easier to insulate children in the suburbs from the harsh realities of life…and so they can maintain their innocence for longer. The big bad world is tough…..and its nice not to have to live in that world until one is ready.

So here are just a few factors that you should consider before moving to the burbs, I am sure I have not covered everything. What else would you include? Are there any other comments to the factors above that we should talk about?


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