If COVID-19 has taught us anything—other than that life was pretty darn sweet before the onset of a health pandemic—it’s that cramped apartment living or small, starter homes can be rough going when you're sharing your space with a significant other and a growing family. Especially when you are with them all the time.
Suddenly, extra square footage and plenty of outdoor space to provide a little sanctuary seem way more important than how many steps you are from your commuter train, or favorite downtown bar. It’s no wonder there's been a surge in folks fleeing the cities for the suburbs and trading up from starter homes to larger abodes. But prices and competition in many suburbs have heated to boiling points. Buyers are looking for homes in areas where their dollars will stretch the furthest. So where should buyers on a budget look to make their urban escape? The realtor.com® economics team located the suburbs in the 10 largest metropolitan areas that offer some of the more affordable square footage for larger homes. (Metros include the main city and surrounding smaller cities, towns, urban areas, and suburbs.) These places are also within commuting distance of the big cities for that (magical) day when the coronavirus is under control and folks are able to safely begin returning to their offices. These are by no means the cheapest burbs—some of the places are downright pricey. But they are communities where folks will spend a whole lot less for a home than they would for a large abode in the cities.
“Home buyers these days are looking for more space—for right now, in the midst of a pandemic when we're spending an incredible amount of time at home, but also in the postpandemic future, when life returns to normal,” says realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “They are also mindful of expenses given a still-healing economy and elevated unemployment rate, so affordability is top of mind.”
To come up with our rankings, we looked at the median listing prices of single-family homes with at least 1,800 square feet in suburban communities within the 10 largest metropolitan areas. These communities had to be within 25 miles of the downtown centers of the nearby big cities (to ensure a reasonable commute). The burb with the lowest price per square foot topped the list.
We focused on suburbs where the cost of similar-size homes was within 20% of the median list price in the nearby city. Only one community per city was included in our rankings.
Ready to find out where cash-constrained buyers can stretch their dollars?
4. Marietta, GA
6. Hanover, MA
8. Clark, NJ
9. Ashton, MD
10. Fullerton, CA