Even with cities beginning to reopen after nearly two years of uncomfortable pandemic conditions, demand for suburban homes continues to thrive, luring urban dwellers with a desire for more space even as prices in many cases now approach those in nearby cities.
“More people are making the decision to move a bit farther away from work to find more affordable housing where there are still some urban amenities,” Urban Institute’s Senior Research Associate Jung Choi told realtor.com.
While a plethora of factors determines which suburbs see the biggest spike in housing values, a certain type of lush, school-friendly suburb is particularly appealing to families with kids. Looking at school rankings, infrastructure and the number of children living in each area, realtor.com identified the most family-friendly suburb for each of the country’s 11 biggest cities. The results, as always, will surprise you:
Top Suburb: Denville, New Jersey
Median July Home Price: $549,050
An hour away from Midtown Manhattan on the train, Denville is a popular choice for professionals with kids working in the city.
The fact that the area is a popular vacation destination in the summer (it has 11 bodies of water, four of which are lakes) gives it the relaxed vibe of a countryside resort. Houses are small and often near a lake while the tight-knit community offers lots of sports leagues for children. Even baseball legend Babe Ruth used to vacation in Denville with his family.
“Within a quarter-mile of that, we have a huge recreation field with a brand-new playground, tennis courts, and basketball courts. You can pick up a game anytime,” said Realty Executives Platinum Agents agent Toni Kaufmann, who grew up in Denville.
Top Suburb: El Monte
Median July Home Price: $599,050
Only 12 miles from Los Angeles by car, El Monte hardly feels like a suburb and does not make homeowners sacrifice the proximity to the excitement and amenities offered by a big city.
Being a drive from the water means that home prices are relatively affordable compared to areas right along the coastline while the parks, trails and marshes around the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area give it a lush feel (a huge plus in California!) and make it particularly appealing to families with young kids.
Top Suburb: Libertyville
Median July Home Price: $565,050
A commuter city, Chicago has a wide range of surrounding suburbs to choose from.
An hour’s drive away, Libertyville was once a railroad town — picturesque buildings and a historic downtown gives it a feel of old-school Americana. The suburb is popular with high-earning Chicagoans and certainly not cheap (football player Brian Ulracher recently sold his family’s home there for $1.5 million) but its proximity to Lake Michigan and community of artists make it a very popular place to live.
Top Suburb: Coppell
Median July Home Price: $550,050
Another suburb with home prices that far exceed the surrounding area, Eastern Texas’s Coppell is an affluent town popular among professionals with children.
The nearby Trinity River and Coppell Nature Park give it much-needed greenery while the surrounding schools are some of the best in Texas. It is also home to a number of sports leagues (including a top gymnastics schools) and youth programs; a new arts center was finished in 2020 (although the pandemic delayed its opening) and is built to host everything from musicals to opera.
Top Suburb: Tomball
Median July Home Price: $399,950
More affordable than Coppell, Tomball is another suburb popular both among families with kids and tourists — a historic Main Street downtown and abundance of festivals make it a popular destination for art lovers, train fans (a museum takes you through its history on the railway) and those who come for its annual German Christmas market.
As all of Texas undergoes massive population growth, Tomball is expected to double in size by 2030 — the 40-minute drive northwest from Houston make it a popular suburban alternative for those who need to work in the city.
Top Suburb: Exton, Pennsylvania
Median July Home Price: $578,550
Another city that is run by people coming in from the suburbs, Philadelphia has no shortage of sprawling suburbs to choose from in all directions.
Exton may not be quite as quaint and leafy as some of the other suburbs on this list but a number of big-box stores, parks and highly developed infrastructure make it a popular choice for those commuting into the city.
Even working in New York, a two-hour drive and two-and-a-half-hour train ride away could be done in exchange for the large yard for the kids.
Top Suburb: Olney, Maryland
Median July Home Price: $495,050
Popular among politickers with kids and city workers from DC, Maryland’s Olney is certainly not cheap (a typical home commands nearly $500,000) but it has plenty of amenities most suburbanites are forced to give up after moving to the suburbs: an abundance of restaurants as well as a bustling bar and theater scene — Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is set to premiere this fall.
Top Suburb: Pembroke Pines
Median July Home Price: $589,050
With its yearlong sun, the suburb of Pembroke Pines is appealing to a whole range of residents: snowbirds, winter home owners and, naturally, local families with kids.
On top of all the usual attractions of living in Florida, the area is home to a number of top-notch schools for the kids and a bar and restaurant scene for the adults. The beach is a short drive away but, with the area more inland than other parts of South Florida, its prices are relatively affordable for Miami which, amid the pandemic, has become one of the most unaffordable cities in the country.
Top Suburb: Peachtree City
Median July Home Price: $465,050
Designed specifically as an efficient suburb for a growing population, Peachtree City is a community of different villages connected by 100 miles of shared pathways. While it is a 40-minute drive from Atlanta, Peachtree City has what so many other suburbs desperately lack: walkability.
Small restaurants and shopping plazas are within close proximity of one another while the paved pathways make for easier biking as well. (That said, the area is also home to numerous golf communities and some use golf carts to get around.)
Top Suburb: Burlington
Median July Home Price: $649,500
Just a 20-minute drive from Boston, the town of Burlington has recently become a popular location for up-and-coming chefs to open restaurants: it’s home to some of the state’s most top-rated establishments and a series of quaint family-run places.
That said, the abundance of large homes (many are farm and ranch houses dating back to the state’s colonial history), highly-ranked schools and commercial centers give Burlington all that is necessary to be a top-notch suburb — so much so that it served as inspiration for the movie “Paul Blart: Mall Cop.”
Top Suburb: Walnut Creek
Median July Home Price: $699,950
By now you’re spotting a trend: some of the most attractive suburbs are also some of the most expensive.
With the highest median home price on this list, Walnut Creek reflects affordability concerns prevalent throughout all of the Bay Area. Still, the high number of parks (16 in total), highly-ranked schools and abundance of restaurants and commercial centers make it a top pick for Silicon Valley professionals who are growing their families. San Francisco, meanwhile, is only a 30-minute drive across the bridge.
“Parents don’t necessarily have to become those suburban hermits; they can lead some semblance of a city life,” Compass agent Elena Mendelson told realtor.com.