New report highlights best US suburbs for city-like livability

Safety, business, education. Which factors make a suburb city-like? And which suburban areas top the list for city-like liveability?

By Alex Summers

Urban migration is not a new phenomenon. People have been moving from rural areas to cities for generations. However, the then lateral move from the city to the suburbs is less well-defined. Many of those migrating struggle to leave city living behind and often want the best of both worlds. 

US suburb
Palo Alto, California, ranks highly for city-like living. (Photo by Sundry Photography/Shutterstock)

Now, new data from Yardi Matrix has created a cities index that ranks suburbs across the US by how much they feel like living in ‘big cities’, as this trend has prompted a massive redesign of suburban environments, resulting in more vibrant, connected and diverse communities.

To identify the suburbs in the US with ‘urban flair’, Yardi Matrix analysed 912 cities with populations between 10,000 and 100,000 in the 100 largest metropolitan areas. It looked at several factors, including the residential landscape, safety, business environment, population density, education, shopping and dining amenities, health-related indicators and transportation options.

Which US suburbs came out on top?

Its research identified Edina, Minnesota; Falls Church, Virginia; and Palo Alto, California, as the top three US suburbs for blending the advantages of suburban and city living. These communities offer the amenities of city living without sacrificing living space and quieter streets.

California had two more entries in the top ten, with Menlo Park and Los Gatos. Florida also had two top 20 entries with Venice and Boca Raton coming in at fifth and 12th, respectively.

Yardi’s top 20 suburbs have all been transformed into places that cater to the expectations of city transplants who want to “live, work and play” in the same area. 

Chicago has the most live-work-play communities, with 15 suburbs making it into the top 100, followed by New York and Boston metro areas with 14 and ten cities, respectively.

What makes a suburban area city-like?

The report highlights several key findings in its methodology for what makes a suburb feel like a city. For example, Falls Church issued the most building permits per 1,000 residents (12 times the national average), making it a hotspot for residential growth. 

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Elsewhere, Hoboken and Fort Lee in North Jersey offer the highest mix of housing options and density on the list. 

In California, Newport Beach has the highest number of co-working spaces, making it the best suburb for remote workers, while Palo Alto has a notable business environment with 60 businesses per 1,000 people and a median household income almost three times the national figure. 

Newport Beach also boasts the liveliest entertainment scene, with numerous retail options, restaurants, and ample park space per capita. 

Lone Tree, Colorado, has the highest life expectancy, according to the report, followed by five suburbs in Massachusetts with the same high average, and Castle Rock, CO, rounding out the list.

[Read more: Competition for rental properties in the US sees rebound in New York and Silicon Valley]

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