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10 Suburbs With A Slick City Feel Without Big-City Cost

suburban cities in the us
You won't have to give up your urban lifestyle if you choose one of these under-the-radar towns.

If you feel drawn to the allure of skyscrapers and the bustle of the big city — but your bank account would be happier without the big-city mortgage and taxes to go with it — consider one of these nearby, more affordable towns instead. With all the metropolitan perks these 10 suburbs have to offer, you might not miss life in the concrete jungle.

1. Forest Park, IL

For people who love the city but want a bit of the suburbs, Forest Park fits the bill. Real estate taxes are lower here than in other communities and properties are more affordable. Forest Park’s median sale price is just $157,500, much less than Chicago, IL’s $235,000. And it has a vibrant downtown. “The Madison Street strip is a big draw for people. It has a bit of a younger, hipper vibe,” says Cynthia Howe Gajewski with Beyond Properties Realty. Forest Park also has fun traditions like a St. Patrick’s Day parade. And with its proximity to the Eisenhower Expressway and Blue and Green lines for the Chicago “L” train, it’s a great commuter location to boot.

2. Red Bank, NJ

Red Bank is an hour from New York, NY, by car or an hour and 20 minutes by train. But the commute is a small price to pay for a great real estate value. Red Bank homes average $238 per square foot compared with a whopping $1,425 per square foot in New York. Affordabilty is only one reason to consider Red Bank, a town that perfectly blends historic character and modern amenities. A stroll past the eateries and shops on Monmouth Street showcases the town’s walkability (you’ll find everything from crepes and pastries to a cheese shop). Red Bank’s seemingly modest live-music venue, Count Basie Theatre, hosts legends like Tony Bennett and Steve Winwood. And filmmaker Kevin Smith of Clerks and Mallrats (and a Red Bank native) opened a comic book store here called Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash.

3. Petaluma, CA

San Francisco, CA, often tops the lists of the most expensive cities in the U.S., so it’s not hard to find a more affordable area nearby. But when the median sale price of a home in San Francisco is $1.14 million, everything is relative. Enter Petaluma, one of the most affordable towns within commuting distance of San Francisco, according to Jen Birmingham, a 14-year resident of Petaluma and real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “We’re one of the most affordable towns compared to everything else within reasonable commute — within 40 miles — of San Francisco,” she says. Not only are homes selling for nearly half the price, but this Sonoma County foodie town has so much to offer, you might not even miss the city. The large population of gen-Xers and millennials make the downtown area bustle. The many historic buildings that survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake give it style. “It’s such a great thing to be able to walk downtown for a date night and know that there’s something going on,” says Birmingham. With the new Brewsters Beer Garden joining Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, beer is becoming another staple of the wine country–adjacent town.

4. Littleton, CO

If the Rocky Mountains are calling, you don’t have to pay top dollar. The more affordable town of Littleton is just 9 miles south of Denver, CO — and real estate prices per square foot are $69 less. An easy drive, it’s an even easier commute on the city’s light-rail line. The town’s Main Street buzzes with adorable shops and restaurants (a green tea julep at In-Tea sounds like heaven in a cup). Get outside with miles of bike trails and open spaces. Catch an outdoor concert at Hudson Gardens or grab a beer at Breckenridge Brewery, one of the town’s latest additions. The brewery’s ranch-style campus includes a dog-friendly outdoor beer garden.

5. Round Rock, TX

Austin, TX, is hip, it’s cool, and it has an unparalleled live music scene. But as Austin grows, so does the cost of buying a home there. Luckily, one of its suburbs is among the state’s other cool (and fast-growing) cities: Round Rock. It’s well worth the commute, says Travis Brown, who has lived here for five years. “Life is less hectic, the traffic is more bearable, and the cost of living is roughly 10 to 20% lower than Austin on average,” he says. Brown is a fan of Flix Brewhouse, a movie theater with its own microbrewery, and Brass Tap, a downtown beer bar with a large craft brew selection. Round Rock even has its own minor league baseball team. Home run!

6. East Point, GA

With a median home sale price of $100,000, East Point is ripe with potential. It’s also trendy. Tiny House Atlanta, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the tiny-house movement, chose East Point for the area’s first tiny-home community. That “it” factor has attracted other major developments too. The city recently approved plans for a system of biking and walking trails in East Point. But there’s already a lot going on here. On Wednesdays, the community can enjoy fresh food options at the old fire station, which hosts a farmers market and food truck rally. Plus, the town is located right on the Red and Gold MARTA lines, making a commute to nearby Atlanta, GA, a breeze.

7. Alexandria, VA

Washington, DC, can be tricky when it comes to real estate. One reason? The city is full of micromarkets, or small pockets of the DC area that are still relatively affordable, says real estate agent Mandy Mills of The Mandy & David Team. Contrast that with the fact that some of the popular suburbs, like Bethesda, MD, are more expensive than living in the city. Alexandria, has a median home sale price of $455,000, which is a bargain compared with neighboring DC’s $624,950 median sale price. In particular, one micromarket — Alexandria’s Del Ray area — is quite the hidden gem. “It’s a little enclave that probably a lot of people don’t know about,” says Mills. The neighborhood’s laid-back, artistic vibe and grass-roots sense of community are enhanced by the charming, downtown-like feel of Mount Vernon Avenue.

8. Edmonds, WA

With prices rising in the Seattle, WA, area, it can be hard to find a good value outside the city that’s not in another city altogether. (Hi, Tacoma!) But not impossible. Case in point, Edmonds. Edmonds sits about 15 miles north of Seattle, with a reasonable commute time, whether you’re driving or taking the Sounder train. Seattle’s median sale price is $545,500, whereas the median sale price in Edmonds is significantly lower, at $451,500. And at $331 per square foot in Edmonds versus Seattle’s $413, you’re getting much more bang for your buck. Located on the Puget Sound, the walkable downtown hosts a number of independent shops, restaurants, and bars. Try the fresh pastries at Red Twig Bakery or grab a pint by the ferry dock at Rory’s Pub.

9. Culver City, CA

Despite its traffic and high cost of living, people are still drawn to the California lifestyle epitomized by Los Angeles, CA. The good news: Because of the LA tech boom, Culver City, has experienced a sort of renaissance, with old movie studios transforming into cool tech offices for companies like The Woo and Clutter. And, no, Culver City is not part of the City of Los Angeles. It is surrounded mostly by the City of Los Angeles, but the median sale price for homes here is $562,500 — about $130,000 less than the median sale price in LA. And Culver City has its own history, charm, and a hoppin’ downtown full of shops, galleries, bars, and eateries. It has also become quite the foodie locale, and thanks to updated public transportation, it’s much easier to get to (which also means an easier commute for residents).

10. Covington, KY

Cincinnati, OH, has a lot going for it in the affordability department, with a median sale price of just $135,000. But Covington has a further edge, with a median sale price of $99,000 — and it’s less than 2 miles away, across the Ohio River. The Northern Kentucky town has picturesque real estate, with 16 historic districts, and lower property taxes than its Ohio neighbor. Covington’s downtown is home to the Artists’ Enterprise Center and the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, plus an eclectic mix of small businesses including art galleries and unique eateries. Covington also hosts some of the area’s most popular annual festivals and events, including Mainstrasse Oktoberfest and Mardi Gras. For a dose of Americana, walk across the Roebling Suspension Bridge — the prototype for the Brooklyn Bridge — and catch a Cincinnati Reds game at Great American Ball Park.

Would you choose the city or suburban lifestyle? Share in the comments below!