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Eight Questions to Ask if You’re Considering a Move from the City to the Suburbs

A move to the suburbs can seem like the ideal alternative to some of the hassles of city living. But, inevitably, you’ll wind up wondering, “Will the ’burbs really be all they’re cracked up to be?” To help you with the pros and cons, offers the most important questions to ponder before making the big leap from the city to the suburbs.

1. What will my commute be like?

Long, you might be assuming—especially if you have to commute to the city from your new home in the suburbs. But that’s not always the case. Although it may be a shorter distance and fewer miles to commute within the city, traffic and congestion could create longer and more stressful commutes. You’ll also want to figure out your public transportation options: Can you take a bus or train, or will you need to drive each day (which can really rack up expenses and stress levels)? Check out the logistics of the transportation, including the convenience of the schedules.

2. What should I know about the schools?

Everyone wants to live in an A-plus district. But what makes a school great could be different for each family. For example, a highly touted school might not be the right fit if it’s a total pressure cooker that focuses exclusively on test scores or piles on the homework. Make sure the school offers the services and educational opportunities that meet your family’s needs, whether it’s a robust arts program or special education. You’ll also want to find out if it offers before- and after-school care, which is important for working parents, and whether it provides bus transportation and how much it costs.

3. Is there anything to do?

Urbanites are used to walking out the front door and having a world of possibilities close-by. Unfortunately, it might require a little more work to find something to do in the suburbs. But don’t worry. You can check with your local chamber of commerce or township website to find out about great year-round events, including food and wine festivals, film festivals and more.

4. What are the town’s child-care offerings?

Will you need to use a day-care center? Is there an active community of stay-at-home moms or dads? Consider these factors, because they’ll have an impact not only on the logistics of your child care, but also on your socializing and lifestyle. Be sure to check out a school drop-off and pickup, and look to see who’s around during the day. You also should peruse the school calendar to see if most events and meetings are scheduled for the day or the evening.

5. Can I get a meal at 9 p.m.?

Most city dwellers are used to options being available 24/7, but in many suburban communities, it might feel like the streets are being rolled up at 9 p.m. Even more of a potential shock: Not everything is a quick app order or short walk away. Consider places that have a town center, with a cluster of shops and restaurants to bridge the gaps between the two lifestyles.

6. Who is going to fix my leaky toilet and maintain my yard?

If you’re considering a move to a single-family home, be prepared to master some basic maintenance and repair skills. Try using a monthly maintenance calendar to keep things manageable; if your home isn’t properly maintained, it could lead to hefty repair costs down the line.

7. What are the taxes going to be?

Depending on the town, taxes can be higher than what a homeowner could be used to paying in their current city. Find out the property taxes and sales tax differences, because this could impact the cost of living and make one neighborhood more affordable than another. It’s also smart to find out if there are plans for significant property tax increases in the near future.

8. What does everyone do in the summer?

Schools are important, but finding out what people do in the summer also is critical to assessing a town’s personality. Were you were envisioning block party barbecues and lemonade stands—when in fact the neighborhood clears out as everyone heads off to vacation or sleep-away camp? Does everyone belong to a private club? Ask potential neighbors or check online event calendars. These days, there are lots of smartphone apps and websites that can lay out the neighborhood vibe without your actually being there.