There comes a time for every city dweller where they begin to weigh the pros and cons of moving to the suburbs. While Manhattan has everything you could ever want— endless entertainment, a lively culture, world-class cuisine and a relatively fast commute, there are indeed a few drawbacks to the city that never sleeps. With skyrocketing rent prices and cramped living spaces, many people find that suburban life outweighs the benefits of the city. If you’ve decided on a move to the suburbs, here’s how to choose one that is right for you:
Do Your Research
As with any move, extensively researching prospective towns is the best way to find which location would be ideal for you. There are a ton of amazing search tools out there to help you out along the way.
Picketfencer.com is one of our favorites. It has a database of over 600 NYC suburbs along with a suburb quiz that will send you a personalized town recommendation. The questions are pretty basic asking things like: Where do you want live? (Long Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, or Westchester/Rockland); how do you want to commute? (train, bus, or drive); what is your max commute time; how many children do you have and what are your school preferences; are you renting or buying?; and how many bedrooms/bathrooms/acres do you require? While all of these are simple questions that you no doubt have already asked yourself, this is a great tool to narrow down your search.
Another great resource is a service called Suburban Jungle. This real estate advisory firm offers “strategists” that personally work with you throughout your home search to come up with a strategy before putting you in touch with buyers’ brokers. They also offer “Suburban Stroller Tours” dedicated to helping young families leave the city for the suburbs.
Lastly, another great tool is Neighborhood Scout. This is a paid service where subscribers can evaluate the 13,631 micro-neighborhoods within a 50-mile radius of Midtown using hundreds of search criteria, including real estate data, demographics, crime rates and schools. This extensive tool not only gives you an inside look at prospective suburbs, but it also saves you a lot of research time in the process.
While a lot of these paid services will really help you to fine-tune your search, there are tons of free articles and sites to take a look at as well. Niche.com has some great lists with titles like “best towns for families, best towns for millennials and most diverse communities.” For example, they ranked Short Hills, NJ and New Canaan, CT as the best suburbs to raise a family in the New York City area. They also suggest Hoboken and Highland Park, NJ as the top two best suburbs for millennials. In addition, Thrillist pulled together a list of the suburbs that won’t make you miss NYC. They ranked Armonk, NY and Red Bank, NJ as the top towns. Lastly, if none of these sources have caught your eye, The New York Times wrote a great article documenting finding the right suburb and interviewing residents that took the plunge.
Pay a Visit
Lastly, while you can spend days, weeks and months researching a town, there’s nothing quite like visiting the town yourself to get a feel for it. Book a weekend trip at a bed and breakfast or Airbnb and get a feel for exactly how you’ll be living. Take note of everything from community interactions (do people say hello on the sidewalks?) to grocery store proximity, to the outdoor amenities like parks, playgrounds, etc.