November 25, 2007
"Within 10 minutes of entering New York we were stuck in traffic. Then there were fire trucks on our block and as we tried to move we hit another car. In all of the commotion I smooshed the top of the wedding cake," said Rinehart, 27. "And I said, 'OK, I could leave the city now.'"
There are many reasons you might trade in a city home for the suburbs. More space and less hustle-and-bustle often top the list, but as Rinehart, her husband and others point out, there are many pros and cons to consider:
Although both cities and suburbs have seen rapid home price appreciation in recent years, you tend to get more house for the money outside of a city.
That's one reason Amy Appleyard, 40, settled in Natick, Mass., a suburb of Boston, last year. She and her husband, Matthew Basiliere, 38, found that for about the same price, they could buy a 1,200-square-foot home with a back yard and two-car garage in Natick, compared with a 1,000-square-foot (or less) condo in Boston.
In fact, for the year through the end of October the median price of a condo in Boston was $345,000, according to the Warren Group, which tracks New England real estate.
In Natick the median price for a condo was $232,000, while a single-family home went for $419,000.
"For the amount of money you have to spend, we could have stayed in the city," Appleyard said. "But it wasn't the kind of space we wanted," especially with their daughter, Lola, 5, and twins due in March.
You often pay for the extra space, however, with a longer commute. Appleyard spends up to 2 1/2 hours each day getting back and forth to her job at the Boston Lyric Opera.
The couple also has two cars (they made do with one while in the city) and pay more for gas and commuter train tickets.
"You have to make a decision about what you're willing to trade for," said Dave Hanna, president-elect of the Chicago Association of Realtors. "Even if you stay in the city you have to give up space to, say, live near a park."
Hanna said well-established communities along the commuter train lines leading into Chicago are still expensive for first-time buyers.
The median price of a single-family home sold this year in Naperville, about 30 miles from downtown Chicago, for example, was $454,500.
Still, the premium you might pay to live in a suburb with public transportation, among other urbanlike features, could be worth it to you.
"A lot of young professionals will think twice about commuting," said Linda Nazareth, author of "The Leisure Economy." "So a suburb that has work opportunities around it might be particularly appealing."
That's one reason Casey Burgess, 25, moved with her boyfriend, Cesar Castaneda, 24, from Queens, N.Y., to Summit, N.J., this summer. After being priced out of New York City the couple decided to look in New Jersey, where Castaneda works. His commute now is 15 minutes.
It takes Burgess more than an hour to get to her job in Manhattan, but at least she can walk to the train.
"We ended up farther from the city than we thought we'd be," Burgess said.
But, she said: "The best thing about Summit: It has the cutest little downtown, with a train station, restaurants, banks and hair salons. And it's only a 10-minute walk from our condo."
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