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Homes in the suburbs

These 3 Suburbs are Leading the Way in the U.S. Market’s Suburban Boom

By HOM Editor
July 2020

As more citizens are working from home, affordable suburban neighborhoods in smaller cities and towns such as Sacramento, CA, Tacoma, WA, and Rye, NY are becoming more appealing in the real estate market. One may assume that these quainter towns don’t have much to offer their residents other than a smaller mortgage or rent check but don’t let their size fool you, these small cities are thriving. If you’re ready to make the switch from city life to “burb life,” one of these promising cities may just be your next zip code.

“Moving away from the central core has traditionally offered affordability at the cost of your time and gas money. Relaxing those costs by working remotely could mean more households choose those larger homes farther out, easing price pressure on urban and inner suburban areas.”

There are a handful of appealing attributes to living in a metropolis, but one huge component is the job market. Once you eliminate the need to be in an office environment, many doors start to open, offering more affordable living situations without compromising a higher salary. A survey by the Harris Poll recently found that 75% of Americans currently working from home due to COVID-19 would rather telecommute at least 50% of the time once the pandemic dwindles, and 66% would think about moving if their job allowed them to continue working from home. Economists are quickly noting how much this will impact the housing market in more suburban areas and with the rise of telecommuting options, said economists predict people will prefer to move away from dense areas not only due to affordability but for safety concerns as well. As Skylar Olsen, senior principal at Zillow, shares, “Moving away from the central core has traditionally offered affordability at the cost of your time and gas money. Relaxing those costs by working remotely could mean more households choose those larger homes farther out, easing price pressure on urban and inner suburban areas.”

In addition to a housing surge in suburban areas, Zillow also anticipates that larger homes with office spaces to accommodate those working from home will be in high demand. For those that live in larger cities, the concept of having a home office doesn’t seem feasible, but in these more suburban areas, your mortgage or rent check will go a lot farther. When it comes to choosing the right neighborhood for yourself, proximity to a metropolitan center is an important factor to keep in mind, which is why cities such as Sacramento, Tacoma, and Rye are such ideal options.

Sacramento, CA
  • More affordable cost of living than San Francisco
  • The “new California cool”
  • Excellent school system
  • Bustling art and cultural scene

For those who have a love for California but are fed up with San Francisco prices and overcrowded coffee shops, Sacramento is an excellent more suburban alternative. Not only does California’s capital state have a moderate cost of living–especially compared to SF’s unreachable prices, where the median home price is $1,263,813 and the median rent is $4,128 – but Sacramento also has a great school system and a bustling art and cultural scene. New York Magazine dubbed the city the “new California cool,” and with good reason. Between a burst of memorable new restaurants, the recently expanded Crocker Art Museum, and a plethora of lush parks, you’ll be saying “San Francisco who?” within hours of exploring the new turf.

When it comes to settling in with your family or planning for your future tots, Sacramento has an array of public school options with high ratings such as Phoebe A. Hearst Elementary School, which has been given the highest possible rating of 10, making it a sound choice for your young children. Rather than continuing to dish out the majority of your salary on your endless living expenses, make the move to Sacramento where you can find a home for $385,000 – much more digestible than SF’s exorbitant housing prices. Keep in mind, many others are contemplating a move to the outskirts of a city as well, so while the market is hot there is no time to waste. The area has an average annual home appreciation rate of 7.60%, which puts Sacramento in the top 10% nationally when it comes to real estate appreciation, so one shouldn’t expect that percentage to fall anytime soon.

Tacoma, WA
  • Short drive from Seattle (40 minutes)
  • Nearby National Forests
  • Thriving progressive public-school system
  • Home values have gone up 9.1% and are expected to rise within the upcoming year

Whether you’ve settled into Washington to take advantage of Seattle’s rapidly growing tech industry or to lose track of time in the mountains, it’s quite possible that smaller cities on the periphery of Seattle haven’t been on your radar, such as Tacoma. Only a 40-minute drive from Seattle, Tacoma is the best of both worlds. It’s just a skip away from the Olympic National Forest but still has all of the city essentials within walking distance. With two top-notch Universities (University of Washington Tacoma and University of Puget Sound), the city has developed a youthful atmosphere and its “vibrant urban core is alive with culture.Glass art is a thriving creative industry in Tacoma, making it an excellent city for visionaries or those looking to revel in a robust art scene. The downtown area is chock-full of delicious restaurants, bars, historic theaters, and even classic cars.

The median home price in the City of Destiny is $354,019, which compared to Seattle’s pricey median of $740,000, is much easier on the wallet. If you work for a Seattle based company, you could be taking that high salary (averaged at $79k) over to Tacoma to stretch your income much further. Not only are Seattle properties much more expensive, but in the past year home values haven’t gone up much – only 2.2% – and Zillow estimates they will fall -1.7% within the next year, whereas home values in Tacoma have gone up 9.1% and they are expected to rise within the upcoming year, making this an ideal time to invest in Tacoma real estate. Being only a short drive from Seattle, families can enjoy all the same hikes, swimming holes, and nature as they could before, and with less traffic! Tacoma also isn’t just home to the previously mentioned celebrated universities, but primary education as well. Tacoma Public Schools have a variety of departments and programs built to enrich the student’s environment and bring them together such as Academic Equity & Access, Homeless Student Assistance (McKinney-Vento Act), and Nutrition Services.

Rye, NY
  • Quaint suburb that is only about 45 minutes from NYC
  • Average home prices increased 34.1% in just one year.
  • Extremely safe and family friendly
  • Home of Playland Park – an amusement park that opened in 1928

If you’re a New Yorker, chances are you’ve heard those fed up with the city mention moving to suburbs in Connecticut or the popular Scarsdale, but Rye is a coastal New York town that gets a bit less recognition. Nestled in Westchester County, Rye is a quaint town with a population of 15,695. While it’s certainly not as affordable as some other suburbs on the outskirts of metropolises, it is lower than NYC considering the amount of space one can have and is also a smart investment considering the average home price increased 34.1% in just one year. If you can’t bring yourself to say goodbye to city nightlife, or still need to head to Manhattan weekly for work, Rye is a wonderful choice that is only about 34 miles from the Big Apple and a dream town for you and your family.

If you have kids in tow, Rye will welcome them with open arms. This city made it to #13 on SafeWise’s list of 100 Safest Cities in America just three years ago, so throw your previous NYC fears out the window and let your children roam around the neighborhood with ease, also keeping in mind that Rye is #7 in Best Places to Raise a Family in Westchester County with an A+ rating in public schools. There is also some fun to be had for the more active crowd. Rye’s downtown is lined with boutiques, gourmet food shops, and oyster bars, all alongside beaches, offering a little something for everyone. We also can’t forget about Playland Park for the thrill-seekers – an iconic amusement park that opened in 1928 and is home to one of the few wooden roller coasters still running in the U.S. Between excellent public safety, education, and a warm community, Rye truly checks all the boxes if it is in your budget.

Times are certainly changing, and communities have to keep up. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 7% of American workers were given the option to work from home, despite the fact that more than 40% of jobs could easily be done remotely. The pandemic has really cast a light on telecommuting options that so many companies are able to utilize but have neglected to offer to their employees.

Not only does telecommuting allow one to live wherever they’d like on the map, but it also can help save a great deal of one’s income by cutting down the costs of housing and commuting. Not to mention eliminating the cost of daily childcare and an overall lower cost of living. Another factor that helps cut down commuting costs is the walkability of a city or town. Even if you’re working from home, being able to take a quick jaunt to the store is certainly a selling point, but especially for those that aren’t working in the comfort and safety of their own home.

As everyone takes their steps towards the “new normal,” there’s an array of changes that will ultimately benefit not only ourselves, but our larger communities as well. As Keith Taylor Andrews, a small business owner in Denver, says, “It feels like a breath of fresh air to get out of the city.”


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