by Dan Rafter
People increasingly want to live in the hearts of big cities, right? It makes sense to live where you work. Getting to your job is easier. You’ll be less stressed if you can avoid sitting on crowded highways every day. And big cities offer plenty of entertainment options, green space and restaurants today.
But what if you’d prefer to live in the suburbs? What if you prefer big houses, large lawns and quiet streets to the excitement of urban living? Are there metropolitan areas in which it actually makes more financial sense to live in the suburbs instead of the big city?
There are. And there are plenty of them, according to the latest research from consumer-finance site HSH.com.
HSH.com recently analyzed several cities to determine which feature urban centers that provide more financial benefits than do their suburbs. HSH.com looked at the cities of Boston, New York, Portland, Washington, D.C., Fargo, Las Vegas, Memphis, Omaha, Chicago, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Mobile, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Wilmington.
HSH.com found that in Boston, New York City, Portland and Washington, D.C. it makes more financial sense for residents to live in the suburbs instead of in the city. That’s often because housing costs in the heart of these cities is so high. Just ask anyone who’s tried to find an affordable place to live in New York City. Other urban areas on this list levy high taxes or are cursed with high costs of living, all of which combine to make living in their suburbs and commuting to work each day a smarter financial decision.
But when it comes to the Midwest, it often makes more financial sense to live in the city than in the suburbs, according to HSH.com.
Consider Memphis. HSH.com said that Memphis, unlike suburban Arkansas, levies no taxes on wage income. At the same time, the cost of living and real estate tend to be cheaper in Memphis than they are in its surrounding Tennessee suburbs. Because of this, residents looking to save money should live in the city of Memphis instead of any of its surrounding suburbs.
If you work in Omaha, you could live in the nearby suburbs of Missouri. But Omaha boasts a lower crime rate and lower real estate prices than do any of these suburban areas in its neighboring state, according to HSH.com.
You could also live in suburban Iowa or Nebraska and work in Omaha. The choice between the city and these suburbs is a trickier one, with neither the Iowa or Nebraska suburbs or the city of Omaha holding a clear advantage. HSH.com says that living in the city of Omaha and its nearby suburbs might then come down to whether you prefer city or suburban living.
If you work in Chicago, it makes more money sense to live in suburban Illinois or nearby Indiana communities, according to HSH.com. That’s largely because the cost of real estate is so high in the city of Chicago. Taxes in the city are also a big financial disadvantage when compared to the nearby suburbs. Yes, Chicago boasts eclectic restaurants, boutique shops, great parks and plenty of night life. You’ll have to determine whether these amenities make up for the far-higher costs of living in the city.
It’s a different story if you live in Cincinnati, where HSH.com says it makes more sense to live as near to your city job as possible, whether that means living in the heart of Cincinnati or its nearby Ohio suburbs. Of course, you could also choose to live in the suburbs of Kentucky and still work in Cincinnati. But in this case, it makes more sense to live in the city itself, according to HSH.com. The suburbs of Kentucky do feature less crime, but they also come with higher taxes, and that makes living in them more expensive.
If you work in Kansas City, Missouri, consider crossing the state line into the Kansas suburbs. HSH.com says that the Kansas suburbs boast lower taxes, cheaper real estate and less crime.
But what if you work in Minneapolis/St. Paul? HSH.com says it’s a toss-up on whether its smarter financially to live in either city or its surrounding suburbs. There is little to distinguish between the suburban and urban areas here, HSH.com reports.
But if you work in St. Louis, HSH.com recommends not living in either the city or its Missouri suburbs. Instead, it recommends that you move to the nearby Illinois suburbs. That’s because the suburbs over the state line feature lower taxes, cheaper real estate and less crime.