American suburbia has come a long way since its lackluster days, evolving into vibrant communities that can rival bustling urban centers. In addition to offering larger homes, safe streets and access to quality education, many suburbs now also host cultural events, concerts and fine dining restaurants, as well as a growing job market, which is in turn fueling retail development and diversification.
Many people have already felt the appeal of the suburbs, including younger generations, who are traditionally the keenest on the urban buzz. A recent report found that nearly 50% of millennials, a cohort known for their penchant for city apartments and ride-sharing, are now projected to migrate to suburban areas in pursuit of homeownership.
But in the quest to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, pricing can make or break the choice of your next destination as fine suburban living often comes with hefty housing costs. We wanted to see where people can strike the perfect balance between a high-quality living environment and reasonably priced homes, so we looked at the data. Leveraging our previous research on the essential attributes of a city-like suburb, we ranked the 100 best US suburbs by home prices using data from the Zillow Home Value Index. Interestingly enough, we found some budget-friendly options in unexpected places.
These are some of the key takeaways from our analysis:
- Illinois reigns supreme in the realm of quality, affordable suburban housing. It claims half of the top 10 spots of the ranking, offering the best mix of lifestyle and affordability.
- Jersey’s suburbs can offer great homes for half the price of a house in the city.
- Georgia’s top suburban locations provide the best of both worlds, with affordable housing and plenty of lifestyle amenities.
- At the other end of the spectrum, California suburbanites need to dig deep into their pockets to support the dream of fine suburban living.
Schaumburg, IL, tops list of best suburbs for budget-conscious homebuyers
The Chicago metro area includes many of the country’s best places to live for families and young professionals alike. Among them, Schaumburg offers the best mix of lifestyle and affordability, with the cheapest homes among the top 100 suburbs in the nation.
Schaumburg is the US’s most populous incorporated village and is also home to plenty of entertainment and dining options with 3.7 restaurants and 396 square feet of park space per 1,000 people. The office sector is thriving as well with almost 160 square feet of office and coworking space per capita.
Overall, it is a great choice for those who want to live well, earn well, and put some money aside for a rainy day. The real estate prices are generally lower than in other northwest suburbs across all sectors — and this includes self storage, as a 10’x10’ storage unit in Schaumburg rents for $117/month. With more income and fewer expenses, plus a life expectancy of 77.8 years, Schaumburg is excellently positioned to allow for a relaxed lifestyle.
Similarly, the charming village of Skokie provides the perfect background for adopting an active lifestyle in a more affordable setting. Buying a home in Skokie will set you back $362K, which is not cheap but is much lower than in other top-rated communities. Going a little further inland, Lombard also offers a great bang for the buck with houses at the price of $335K. This suburb scores good points in multiple areas: locals earn good dollars — an average of $89,079 – and in their free time they can enjoy 452 square feet of parks and green spaces per capita as well as a lively entertainment scene.
Decatur, GA, is the second-best suburb in the country for your wallet
Attractive living and good prices await suburban home seekers in the South, too. For instance, a home in Decatur, GA, sells for about $315K, which is the second cheapest among the 100 best suburbs for affordable housing in the US. Decatur residences are less expensive than those in Atlanta, where a home calls for approximately $377K on average. Space is affordable even for those who need extra room outside the house to store their seasonal items — a 10’x10’ non-climate-controlled storage unit in Decatur rents for $114/month.
Duluth and Suwanee are two more top Georgia suburban hotspots, with house prices of $419K and $571K, respectively. The perks of living in Duluth include enjoying warmer winters, lower taxes, a rich business landscape with 46 businesses/1,000 people and a low crime rate of 1.5%, plus access to good schools and nice parks.
Home seekers who want a great mix of lifestyle perks and affordability in the South might also take a look at Fort Myers, FL. Houses here have a typical value of $371K and there is plenty of new construction, with 17.3 building permits issued per 1,000 residents. Locals can enjoy the abundant park space of 760 square feet per person, making it a top choice for those looking to spend more time outdoors.
Jersey’s suburbs can offer great homes for half the price of a house the city
Those who cannot escape the New York state of mind, but still want a quieter lifestyle not so far away from the big city, will find surprisingly accessible homes in New Jersey’s suburban areas. Hackensack and Woodbridge rank 8th and 9th in the top 10 suburbs for affordable housing, with price tags starting as low as $395K – and residents still get some very nice urban-like perks.
Hackensack, NJ does particularly well regarding building permits and health with 11.4 single family and multifamily permits and 7.3 health care and social assistance establishments 1,000 people. The obesity rate is low, just around 23%, suggesting that residents have access to a healthy and active lifestyle.
Meanwhile, home prices hover around $716 in NYC, $419K in Newark and $578K in Jersey City.
California dreaming: suburbanites pay a hefty price for paradise
At the other end of the spectrum, some suburbs will have you digging deep into your pocket to enjoy a quality lifestyle. Palo Alto, the Bay Area’s most coveted suburb and one of the most popular in the US, has a staggering average home value of $3M, at the expensive end of the list of the best 100 US suburbs. The LA suburb of Newport Beach follows closely behind, with price tags also north of $3M. Menlo Park and Cupertino keep up with the pace, having prices that top $2.5M, followed by Los Gatos and Burlingame. California remains a sweet spot for fine living, but all the perks ranging from exquisite architecture to scenic parks, plus excellent schools, come at a cost.
There's a silver lining for budget-strapped buyers who just can't let go of the California Dream, and they'll find it by moving inland. Houses in Lake Forest and Walnut Creek offer favorable price-to-amenities ratios by Californian standards, with homes hovering around $1 million.
Suburban living drives up the demand for self storage units
Self storage serves a multitude of purposes. It assists many people settling into new homes and maximizing living space, whether they are downsizing, renovating or simply seeking to maintain an airy atmosphere within their residences. But moving home is one of the main reasons for using a self storage unit.
In fact, the self storage industry has responded to the increased demand for suburban living by building more facilities in suburban settings. The high demand for housing and storage in California, for example, led to the development of 198K square footage of self storage in Cupertino, CA, in 2022. A sizable 110K square footage of storage units are also forecasted to appear in Campbell, CA, by the end of 2023. But just like other types of real estate in California, self storage doesn’t always come cheap – the monthly cost of renting a storage unit in Cupertino is $239, while Campbell storage units offer a slightly lower rate of $232.
The rapid growth of suburban areas with cheaper housing is also supporting self storage development. In Duluth, GA, for example, there is approximately 89K square footage of new storage space scheduled to be delivered in 2023 alone. The average monthly rent for a storage unit in Duluth is $102.
In Fort Myers, FL, the demand for self storage soared too, and it led to more space being added to the market. 2022 saw roughly 74K square feet of new self storage space delivered, while in 2023, developers plan on adding more than 157K square feet to the local stock. The abundant new supply allows the average rate to remain relatively low at $107/month, below the national average.
Self storage facilities provide a convenient and affordable solution for suburban residents who need extra space for their possessions. Self storage facilities can also help suburban residents who are moving, downsizing or renovating by allowing them to store their belongings temporarily or long-term in a safe and affordable location.
See how the top 100 suburbs compare in terms of self storage prices and availability:
Self Storage Rates and Availability in the Top 100 Suburbs for Premier LivingStorageCafe analysis of Yardi Matrix data
The table below shows the home prices for the top 100 best suburbs and how they compare to prices in the metro area's principal city.
This analysis was done by StorageCafe, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.
We used our list of the 100 best suburbs for city-like livingand analyzed metrics to gauge which suburbs have the best mix of lifestyle amenities and affordability. These included the housing affordability index, numbers of permits for single family homes, median household incomes, numbers of restaurants, park space per capita, life expectancy, the education index and others.
To rank the suburbs by affordability, we used data from the latest Zillow Home Value Index, released in July 2023.
The data on self storage costs was taken from Yardi Matrix, StorageCafe‘s sister division and a business development and asset management tool for brokers, sponsors, banks and equity sources underwriting investments in the multifamily, office, industrial and self storage sectors.
Fair use and distribution
This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.