Are You Urban or Suburban?

green grass and  downtown
ShutterstockWhat do you find a more appealing: an array of skyscrapers or a stretch of suburban lawn?
By Emily Hefter

When Zahra Safazian and her husband bought their first home in 2006, their criteria seemed obvious: They wanted to live in a walkable area of Arlington, Virginia, close to the train and a few stops from Washington, D.C.

They were not suburbs people. They found a two-bedroom condo that was perfect for them.

Seven years later, things are cramped. The couple has two daughters, one of them fast approaching kindergarten age. But houses in their area had appreciated faster than condos. They felt stuck.

"At the time, when we chose the neighborhood, we thought about things like, 'Oh, we can Metro into the city all the time.' But then the funny thing was, we never did that," she said.

Safazian and her husband aren't alone. Among first-time home buyers surveyed in a recent Zillow poll, almost half said they regret something about their purchase. Their top regret: size and layout. Sixty-two percent of first-time homebuyers with regrets say they should have bought something bigger or with a better layout.

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"Every first-time home buyer gets excited about just about every home they walk in. They're adrenaline-driven," said Bobby Harding, a Keller Williams agent in Louisville, Kentucky. A good agent should help buyers think through the practicalities, hopefully avoiding regret down the line.

Sometimes that means talking buyers into considering the suburbs. The top regrets of first-time home buyers, besides size:
  • 40 percent say they regret the cost of their home.
  • 28 percent say they wish they had quieter neighbors or better schools.
  • 24 percent say they regret their yard choice, whether they want more space or less maintenance.
  • 17 percent wish they had more available parking.
All those things could be remedied with a little drive out of town. And surprisingly few first-time buyers said that they regret their commute: Only 11 percent wish they had bought closer to work.

"It's really cool to say you live in Park Slope or the Upper East Side or Brooklyn, but yeah, after you have that second or third kid, it gets really crowded," said Phil Faranda, of J Philip Real Estate in the New York City suburbs.

"What, do you think you're going to walk to Little League? You're gonna walk to taekwondo? ... Move to the suburbs. You know, you can still get falafel. You might have to drive, but you can still get it."

Faranzia and her husband sold their condo. They close next week on a bigger place in the perfect school district for their 5-year-old to start school in the fall. It's actually the same neighborhood in Falls Church where Faranzia grew up - and they can't wait.

"It just makes sense for us right now," she said. "Just thinking we can have more space, and not have to think about private school."

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we should discus with our husband or wife before decide it to live on urban or suburban area. kids and education is more important to consider it

September 22 2014 at 4:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

urban is anything inside Route 28 and Dulles Airport. This article isn't about it's title. It is about condos vs single family homes.

June 21 2014 at 11:04 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I don't get this article. Maybe because I am from a suburb of Los Angeles were everything kind of melds together and it is often hard to tell what is urban and what is suburban. Especially in LA county. I bristle at descriptions of the suburbs as being damn near rural, which is what this article seems to be saying.

June 15 2014 at 4:34 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply