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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

Moving From The City To The Suburbs: What to Expect and How to Do It Right

Updated: May 11, 2021

If you live in the city, you may have thought about moving to the suburbs at some point. Maybe it was when you were awakened at 4 a.m. by sirens or construction. Or when you were waiting for the bus in the rain. Or when you ran out of space in your house to store the extra groceries you purchased.

Perhaps COVID-19 has prompted you to seriously consider the decision more recently. You aren’t the only one who feels this way.

According to the New York Times, big cities around the world were already “losing their allure” before the pandemic, with people opting for lower living costs, starting families, or trying to get away from the stress of a bustling city. After COVID-19 wreaked havoc on densely populated areas, forcing people to work from home, city dwellers may be interested in purchasing a home with space for an office and relocating to an area with fewer people per square mile.

New suburbanites are finding a new home and a new way of life away from the concrete jungle, whatever their reason for leaving the city. If you’re considering relocating to the suburbs, such as from Toronto to the Waterloo Region, we’re here to assist you in making the transition as seamless as possible. Let’s start with an explanation of what a suburb is.

What Exactly Is A Suburb?

A suburb is a residential area located within commuting distance of a major city. Many people from the suburbs commute to work in the big city. Residents who live in the suburbs can take advantage of the city’s conveniences when they want them while also having more space for the same (or less) money and more peace away from the city’s bustle. And, as some employees discover that their employers are willing to make the transition to remote work permanent, the idea becomes even more feasible – and often more appealing.

The Waterloo Region can offer even more. It’s home to big tech companies – including RIM and Google – and the number of innovative companies is only growing. And yet it retains the ‘small town’ feel that so many people find they are currently craving more than ever.

What to Expect When You Move To The Suburbs

It’s not just a change of scenery when you move from the city to the suburbs; it’s also a change of lifestyle. You’ll quickly notice that the suburban lifestyle differs significantly from that of the city, right down to where you eat, how you get around, what you spend your money on, and how you spend your time.

More Space

While the suburbs are not always ‘cheap’ anymore you will usually get more bang – and a lot more space for your buck. If you are tired of paying a small fortune for not enough space buying a home in the suburbs can offer you the chance to spread out – literally – and enjoy far more space, often for less.

The same will be true away from home. Getting away from it all is often easier in the suburbs, as parks and recreation abound. For example did you know that there are hundreds of acres of green space near every neighbourhood in the Waterloo Region, and that we have some of the best park trails in the province.

Different Business Hours

Toronto – like many big cities – is a place where bars stay open until dawn and some restaurants and convenience stores never close. However, in the suburbs, you may be surprised to find most businesses closing for the day much earlier. With these new business hours, you may have to rearrange your schedule or find new ways to fill your time after 9 p.m.

Changes In Mobility

Cities often have several options for getting around without the use of a car. Public transportation is not only readily available, but it’s also the popular choice for many city dwellers who don’t want to sit in traffic or pay exorbitant costs associated with owning a car in the city.

Other than more limited public transportation options – although the Waterloo Region’s is pretty good – there’s another reason you may need a car in the suburbs. Everything is farther away. With more space to spread out, the businesses that used to be a block or so away may now be miles from your home.

A Different Shopping Experience

Grocery shopping may seem insignificant, but the experience can be so different upon moving to the suburbs. If you don’t have a car in the city, chances are you’re carrying groceries a few blocks or taking them on the bus or train. And space is usually limited inside a home in the city. That means you can only buy so many groceries at a time. Chances are you’re making a few trips every week. And because you have to carry your groceries – and also because space is limited – you typically won’t be able to purchase heavy items (like a full gallon of milk) or buy in bulk. When grocery shopping in the suburbs – with a car – you’re able to stock up for a week or longer and buy in bulk, which can help you save money on groceries and save time by not having to frequent the store as often.

Moving From the City to the Suburbs: Some Advice

It’s one thing to know what to expect once you arrive in the suburbs; it’s another to know what to expect during your relocation. To be better prepared for the financial, logistical, and emotional aspects of moving in general, follow these tips.

Make Certain You Love Your New Neighbourhood

People often place so much emphasis on the house that they overlook the importance of loving their surroundings just as much as the house. When you’re transitioning from one way of life to another, it’s especially important to make sure you like the neighbourhood.

Before you start looking for homes for sale, do some research on the neighborhoods you’re interested in to make sure you’re looking in the right place. Consider school district reviews, crime rates, the types of activities and events available in the area, and the proximity of your new home to restaurants, entertainment, nature trails, or other amenities that fit your desired lifestyle. Work with a local real estate agent who understands the different areas and their pros and cons to get the best results.

Think About Your Commute

When it comes to deciding on the right suburb, if you are going to have one, your commute should be a major consideration. Most people think about how long it will take to get to and from work each day, but that shouldn’t be your only consideration. Ask yourself the following questions to help you factor in your commute.

  1. On a good traffic day, how long will it take you to get to work?

  2. What are the local rush-hour times, and do they coincide with your working hours?

  3. Are there any alternate routes available if the main route is clogged due to an accident, construction, or other factors?

  4. How much of your commute to work will be spent stuck in traffic?

  5. Will your commute be longer, but it will be a more enjoyable drive with beautiful or interesting scenery?

  6. Are there any nearby suburbs with commuter trains or other forms of public transportation that you could use to get to work?

Make a Moving Costs Budget

When buying a home, the down payment and closing costs aren’t the only costs you’ll face. You’ll also have to pay for moving expenses. Packing materials, a moving truck, professional movers, shipping costs, and insurance are all possible options.

Shop around to compare prices and save money, and make sure you include all of your moving costs in your monthly budget. Do this ahead of time and tap that local real estate agent for advice on who to use.

Keep in Mind that Moving is Hard

You’re changing your lifestyle, moving to a completely new environment, and saying goodbye to loved ones, cherished locations, and a big part of what helped shape who you are today, in addition to dealing with the finances and logistics of moving.

When it comes to moving’s ups and downs, the emotional toll it takes on you and your family is significant. Allowing yourself and others space to process, time to grieve, and permission to feel whatever emotions arise is critical.

Remember Why You’re Moving

It’s easy to lose sight of the goal when going through the ups and downs of moving – especially the downs – and even wonder aloud, “Am I crazy for doing this?” “What have I done?” or “What have I done?”

Write down your reasons for moving to the suburbs so that when those doubts and questions arise, you can quickly remind yourself how much the scary or stressful aspects are worth it. Keep in mind that this is all only temporary. The roots you’re planting, the goals you’re achieving, and the new life you’re creating will last a lifetime.



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