Urban or Suburban: Where Should You Live?

1 10 2007

 Should you live downtown or in the burbs? With the re-emergence of downtown living, this question is on the minds of many in Austin. There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to both the urban and suburban way of life. But ultimately, it comes down your preferences 

So what are the top 3 advantages to urban and suburban lifestyles in Austin? I’ve lived in both Austin’s urban and suburban environments. Here’s what I think.

3 advantages to living in downtown Austin

Entertainment. Like any great city, there’s always something going on downtown, be it a concert, an art gallery or some type of festival. It isn’t difficult to find something, to keep you entertained. Music lovers, not much is left to be said about finding shows any night of the week. From salsa lessons to cooking classes, to having a cup of coffee at Progress or JO’S and watching eccentric people pass by, there are so many things to keep boredom at bay.

Public transportation. Austin’s public transportation and infrastructure isn’t nearly as robust as San Francisco’s or Seattle’s, but it is improving. The bus system is a great alternative to driving around the core of town. This aspect will only get better once the rails are further developed. But when it comes down to it… The real advantage to being downtown is simply being within walking distance to your most visited destinations. 

Culture. Anytime a large group of people are living close to one another, diversity is bound to flourish. Yet in the midst of so many differing ideas, there’s something uniquely Austin that transcends it all. To better understand what I mean, take a walk down South Congress Ave or go to a Gospel Brunch at Stubb’s. Also, the Farmer’s Market is a great place to experience the culture.  Something different everyday, that appeals to me big time.

3 Advantages to living in suburban Austin.

Price ($).Price per square foot for homes outside of Austin’s core is commonly 2-3x cheaper than homes in central Austin. For example, a newer 1,500 sqft home in Southwest Austin may cost $187,500 where a similar sized, and likely much older home in  central Austin would cost at least $360,000. What’s more, the southwest area is a short 8 minute drive away from downtown Austin (sans rush hour traffic). By living a little farther out, you can enjoy all the offerings of the city and not be forced to eat peanut butter and jelly for every meal in order to fund your monthly mortgage payment. Hopefully, you didn’t finance your urban digs with an adjustable rate…

Space. By space I mean a few things. More house for less money. A space to park your cars or SUVs if you prefer (I read a statistic that Austin averages 1.4 cars per person). Space to have family and visiting guests to stay the night (in their own bedrooms). Space to have a home office, music or art studio. Space to hang your stuffed deer head or whatever else you’re proud of. Whether you have a big back yard or a great front porch, chances are you will likely have a great space to entertain your friends and neighbors.

Yards & pets. Austin is an extremely pet friendly place, even in the urban area. However, one of the reasons we purchased outside of Austin’s core, was to have a yard. We have a cat and a dog that are right at home in the shade of the live oaks in our back yard. The pets are much happier outside while we’re at work during the day. Also, we have a great area in our yard to grow vegetables. The crop isn’t overly abundant right now, but someday soon it will make an incredible garden.

Bottom line… when you’re considering urban versus suburban, carefully analyse both. Write down your preferences and decide which lifestyle appeals to you more and don’t forget to check the price tag.

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Related Post :: Urban or Suburban: How Much Does it Cost to Own?

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