The cost of housing in the suburbs will often be cheaper than its nearby city counterpart, and as a bonus, you’ll probably score a lot more space. In Manhattan, the average apartment costs $3,300 a month to rent, while Brooklyn apartments costing $2,800 a month. But in nearby New Jersey, you can snag a two-bedroom rental for $1,400. Even owning can be cheaper on the basis of a mortgage and property tax payment alone. The average monthly mortgage payment in NJ is about $1,200 per month, and Jersey homeowners pay an average of $525 monthly in taxes. Whether you rent or own, you can save a good $1,300 on housing – but housing is only part of the equation.
Many people who live in cities also work in cities. Keeping yours once you move to the ‘burbs, however, might cost you. In NYC, a monthly, unlimited MetroCard costs $112, whereas a monthly transit pass from NJ to NYC costs more than $300 on average. On top of that, count on needing a car, which could cost an extra $250-$500 a month for your loan payment, $150 a month for insurance, and $50-$100 a month for maintenance. All in, your transportation costs can increase by $650-$950 per month by moving to the suburbs, and that doesn’t even include gas, parking, and tolls.
If you buy a suburban home, expect your maintenance and utility costs to go up significantly. It’s cheaper to heat and cool a small city apartment than a large house. Property maintenance is also spendy: Lawn care can cost almost $100 per month, and gutter cleaning, at an average of $185 a pop. And if you move to a place where sewer usage and trash pickup are your responsibility, your expenses will go up even more. Insurance costs also increase: renters insurance costs $15-25 a month on average, but homeowners insurance costs $75.
There’s less activity and hubs of entertainment in the suburbs, which means one of two things: You’ll either be doing less painting of the town and saving money or you’ll be trekking to the city more and spending cash on transportation. Ordering food in the suburbs is also more expensive because many places charge delivery fees, which is not a common practice in most cities. Over the course of a year, these luxuries can add up.
The Bottom Line
Moving to the suburbs may save you on housing costs, but factor in increased transportation, maintenance, and entertainment costs before you make the big move.