Pros & Cons: Renting in the Suburbs vs. Downtown

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It’s the age-old question: downtown or suburb? If you’re moving to a new city, there’s a good chance that you’ve spent a substantial amount of time mulling over the question of whether you should rent an apartment in the center of town or further out into its periphery and try out living in the suburbs. If you’ve come here with that question in mind, you’re in luck because that’s what we’re talking about today!

In this article, we’re going over some of the pros and cons of renting a home and living in the suburbs vs. the downtown area. There are plenty of pros and cons that need to be considered when making this decision, so we can’t really present you with a clear winner; instead, we’ll be giving you the facts and letting you decide for yourself.

Living in the Suburbs: Pros & Cons

renting in suburbs

A staple of the nuclear age, the quiet suburb has become a staple in depictions of middle America. Stately, sedated one- and two-story homes line quiet, orderly streets traversed by mid-range Sedans and family minivans. It’s all very pleasant, albeit a bit conformist; but is it the right place for you? Let’s find out!

Pro: inexpensive housing

One of the most attractive pros of renting a place in the suburbs is cost. While the monthly rent price of apartments in most downtown areas can easily surpass two to three thousand dollars for a normal home, the suburbs are generally far more affordable. The average rent prices will certainly fluctuate depending on the area and state of the real estate market, but you can generally expect to pay less each month for a rental in the suburbs.

If your monthly wage is on the lower end of the financial spectrum, renting a home or apartment in the suburbs can mean the difference between having money to put away each month and living paycheck to paycheck. While you may be able to find cheaper rents in more central locations if you search hard enough, the suburbs are generally your best bet at finding a low-cost rental.

Con: long commute times

traffic jam

A significant downside of renting and living in a home in the suburbs, on the other hand, is the commute. While some suburbs are connected to their corresponding city centers by public transportation, many lack this infrastructure and will likely require you to undergo a long and tedious commute to and from work.

For those living in the suburbs surrounding large cities, this commute is likely to be fraught with congestion on roadways and long stops, often requiring you to leave for work half an hour to an hour earlier than the time you actually start working. If you don’t enjoy driving long distances through traffic, you might want to consider finding a place closer to the downtown area of the city you’re moving to. However, if you’re a remote worker, than this issue does not apply, as you can often commute to other interest points outside rush hours.

Pro: peace and quiet

renting in suburbs

On the other hand, if you’re one for the quiet life, you will probably enjoy living in the suburbs. Unless you choose a neighborhood that borders a highway, you’ll find that most suburb dwellings are substantially quieter and more peaceful than homes in the downtown area. With less traffic, fewer pedestrians and an overall slower pace, suburbs are the obvious choice for anyone seeking to live life quietly.

For families with kids, this is likely to be an important selling point. With fewer cars on the road and less activity in general, you’ll be able to sleep comfortably with little noise pollution, allow your kids to play outside and generally just enjoy a more relaxed way of life. Don’t forget this when the time comes to make your decision!

Con: lackluster nightlife

One thing that may deter you from renting a home in the suburbs is the lack of variety when it comes to nightlife in the immediate vicinity of your home. The quiet life is a double-edged sword; you achieve peace and relaxation, but that comes at the cost of being able to easily enjoy a night out in town.

If you aren’t particularly enamored with nightlife culture and frequent outings, this may not be a huge factor for you. Clubs, bars and lounges are not everyone’s cup of tea, and if you have kids you probably aren’t spending much time at the bar or on the dance floor anyway. Nevertheless, if you’re someone who comes alive when the sun goes down, you should keep this in mind when searching for a home.

Living in a Downtown Rental: Pros & Cons

There’s an old saying: for every yin there’s a yang. This rings just as true when it comes to your decision between choosing a home in the suburbs as opposed to choosing one downtown. It’s safe to say that living in the suburbs is as different from living downtown as the night is from day; but what are the pros and cons?

Pro: easy access to attractions and amenities

One of the nicest things about living downtown is the easy access to just about everything you might find yourself in need of. From large scale interest points like theme parks, shopping malls and movie theatres to smaller scale local amenities like restaurants, stores and specialized boutiques, what you need is usually close at hand when you live downtown.

If you’re the kind of person who enjoys spending time drinking, dancing and hanging out with friends, the downtown area of most cities is the best place to live. With clubs, bars and lounges close by, you won’t have to worry about driving to and from your home to have a fun night out.

Con: financial barriers

Despite the exceptional convenience of living downtown, there’s one thing you might need to consider: the rent price of a home in the downtown area. Real estate in these highly developed areas is usually very expensive, requiring you to spend a great deal each month on rent. If this isn’t something you’re interested in doing, you might want to consider renting in the suburbs instead.

Although this cost may be prohibitive for many, this isn’t to say that renting a home downtown is something that is necessarily out of the question for you. If you can find a real estate agent who specializes in rental properties for your age group, you’ve got a very good chance of finding something that suits your needs and your budget.

Pro: short commute

short commute downtown

For those who work in the fast-paced world of corporate finance, real estate and other high-powered professions, time is money. This being the case, if you’re a part of this world you probably aren’t particularly interested in spending an hour or more each day driving to and from your place of work.

If this is true in your case, then a home or apartment downtown might just be the thing for you. Downtown areas are most likely to have well developed public transportation infrastructure and are also usually located near most commercial centers. If you don’t want to spend more than a couple of minutes getting to and from work, the downtown area is for you!


It’s safe to say that there are a lot of reasons why you might want to rent a property in either of these distinct areas, but ultimately the decision is yours. Which one you choose will depend entirely on your preferences and tastes, and you’re the only person who can assess your individual needs and reach the right solution for your case. We wish you the best of luck in your rental adventure!

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Mihaela Buzec is a senior writer and online content developer for RentCafe. She covers topics about everything related to the renting lifestyle, from decorating and interior design to finding the right apartment, frugal living, money saving advice, and more. She dives deep into topics of interest, writing well-researched comprehensive guides on subjects such as renting with pets, saving on utilities, or avoiding rental scams to help renters stay informed and live smart.

Mihaela holds a BA in English and German Language and Literature, an MA in Current Linguistics, and she is currently pursuing a PhD in neurolinguistics.

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