- It might seem like you get more home for your money when you move out of the cty, but there are a lot of little costs that come with living in the suburbs.
- Everything from transportation, to buying more furniture for your bigger home, to lawn maintenance will add to your home costs in the suburbs.
- Read more personal finance coverage.
At first glance, the suburbs seem like an affordable place to live. Compared to more urban environments, houses are larger and less expensive, and everyday essentials like gas are cheaper, too.
But, there are some factors that are simply more expensive in the suburbs. When you move to the suburbs, chances are you’ll be up-sizing. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the median dwelling in a city centre area is 1,678 square feet. Meanwhile, the median suburban home is 1,800 square feet. With that comes lots of increased expenses, including more furniture, increased utility costs, and more.
Then, there are other things that change once you’re out of the city limits, including limited access to public transportation. Property taxes can also change as you head into the suburbs, depending on the city.
Here are eleven things that might get more expensive as you leave the city for the suburbs.
1. Moving into a neighbourhood? You might have to pay an HOA fee
If you’re thinking about moving into a neighbourhood in the suburbs, you might have to pay each month for the upkeep of shared neighbourhood amenities like a pool or playground.
In single-family home neighbourhoods where there’s an homeowner’s association, there’s also a higher pricetag – according to research from the University of California at Irvine, homes in neighbourhoods with HOAs sold for 4% or $US13,500 more than non-HOA neighbourhoods.
“There are an increasing number of planned communities outside of the core city area,” Corrie Watterson, a real estate broker and Realtor with Windermere in Seattle, Washington, tells Business Insider. “When you’re going into a planned community, you’re almost certainly going to have some HOA fee that can be $US400 or $US500 a month, or even more,” she says.
2. Maintaining a bigger house and larger yard will be more costly
Even if you had a yard in the city, chances are it was much smaller than what it would be in the suburbs.
If you want to take care of your yard yourself, you’ll probably have to sink some money into the right equipment. If you’re hiring someone, that’s an extra monthly cost you may not have had to pay otherwise.
And other services will get more expensive. “If you’re paying for a cleaning service, that’s going to be more expensive in the suburbs,” adds Watterson. A bigger home means a higher cleaning bill.
3. Have more space? You might have to buy more furniture
When you have more space, chances are you’ll be more tempted to fill it.
Whether that means buying a new bedroom set for the second bedroom, or just buying a bigger couch to fit your bigger living room, the costs of buying a larger place can add up.
According to data gathered by the National Association of Home Builders, between 2012 and 2014, the typical homebuyer spent about $US10,600 on new furniture, appliances, and things like power tools and decor in their first two years in a new home.
4. And, utility bills are greater than they would be on a small place
A bigger place brings bigger bills, and not just on the mortgage or rent payment. You’ve got more space to heat and cool, and more items that use energy, like a big refrigerator or a dishwasher.
Having more means that you’re using more power, water, and gas, and bills can add up much quicker in a single-family house than they do in a small apartment.
Heating, for example, is a major cost. In a typical one-bedroom apartment, electricity bills are generally between $US30 and $US50 without heat, and $US160 when including heat, according to ApartmentList. With a house, your costs could be much higher when you have more square footage and bedrooms to heat.
5. You’ll probably want a car in the suburbs
Let’s face it: You might have fewer public transportation options in the suburbs – especially those surrounding smaller cities.
“If you didn’t have a car before, you’re almost certainly going to need one now. And you may even want two cars if you have more than one adult in your household,” Watterson says.
Getting a car isn’t cheap: The average monthly payment for a new car for July to October 2019 was $US556, according to Experian. Then, there’s the costs of insurance, gas, and maintenance to consider.
“Even if you may be saving some money living outside the core city, now you own one or two depreciating assets,” Watterson says.
6. It might cost more to get to and from work
Your costs to commute might be higher from the suburbs, even if you’re not driving.
From paying for toll roads and gas, to spending more money on a monthly commuter train pass, it will likely cost more to commute in from the suburbs. And, that doesn’t count the hours you lose at home each day.
7. You have more interior space to renovate and maintain
“When you have a bigger home, you have more to remodel or replace when it becomes out of date or non-functional,” Watterson says. “Those costs aren’t every year, but they are large.”
While a whole kitchen remodel can cost upwards of $US20,000, smaller things like replacing a broken refrigerator or stovetop could still cost hundreds or thousands. Where you may have not had a dishwasher in a 600-square-foot studio, you may have one to repair or replace in the suburbs.
The more space and appliances you have to keep up, the more the renovations or replacements could cost someday.
8. Groceries can cost more in the suburbs than in cities
In cities, food supplies are actually greater than they are in the suburbs, as Steven John writes for Business Insider. With more competition in cities and more close, convenient options, grocers have to price their items more competitively.
9. Nature can have a greater impact on your home in the suburbs
In suburban areas, you own more space, and have a much higher chance of something happening. A basement, for example, is common in the suburbs, but could also be prone to flooding. And, with more trees, yard space, and pavement, there’s simply a lot more that can go wrong.
Business Insider contributor Steven John writes that he’s had several problems with his home and natural events in his time in the suburbs. “I have incurred costs created by windblown debris damage, roots breaking apart pipes buried beneath the yard, and more flooding than I care to think about,” he writes.
10. You might find yourself spending more money on things to do
Financial planner Lauren Lyons Cole writes for Business Insider that anyone considering leaving the city for the suburbs should consider the cost of things like entertainment and things to do. In suburbs, there are probably fewer free options than there would be in the city.
“Will you have enough free or cheap activities to keep you and your family busy?” she writes. If the answer is no, there’s a good chance you may start spending more on dining out, and entertainment options like theme park or movie tickets.
11. Your property taxes could go up, depending on the city
Property taxes can vary widely, and while it’s not the case in all metro areas, living outside of the city could cost more.
In the sprawl of Chicago, for example, property taxes are higher in the suburbs than they are in the city proper. In suburbs like Elgin, Oak Park, and Schaumburg, for example, the tax rates were all above 2% in 2017, while the tax rate on residential property within the city was 1,.74%.
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