What’s the Difference Between ‘Exurbs’ and ‘Suburbs’?

City living is ideal for many people, especially those who work in the downtown core or who simply like to be in the center of the action. But living in urban centers is typically expensive, especially when compared to homes located in the outskirts. Not only that but living in the concrete jungle also doesn’t usually allow for much outdoor space, as property is much more expensive on a square-foot basis.

As such, many people are choosing to live outside of the city for a variety of reasons, one of which is the price. As just mentioned, real estate tends to be much more affordable outside of the city. Not only that, but you typically get a lot more space for the money. That’s why many families tend to look outside of city centers, as homes and lots are usually much larger and offer more bang for their buck.

If you’ve decided that buying directly downtown isn’t on your radar, you might be looking to purchase a bit outside of the city. In this case, you’ll probably be looking at buying either in the suburbs or ‘exurbs’. Buying in these areas might be more up your alley and can offer you a whole other set of advantages that you can’t get in the city.

But while both types of locations share similar features – including more space, more affordable homes, and less traffic – there are notable differences between the two.

Exurbs Vs Suburbs – What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between these two types of locations is their location. While suburbs are situated just outside of the city, exurbs are usually further out and are more rural in nature. They can be so far out that they may even be considered farmland and might not have some of the municipal features that suburbs tend to have. 

As suburbs continue to become saturated, many homebuyers may start to have to look further out from the city center in order to find something they can afford and that meets their needs in terms of space and privacy. Many time, exurbs fit the bill, despite their increased distance from urban amenities.

Although suburbs are not located directly in the city, they still offer many of the same types of amenities that one would find in downtown cores, including public transit, employment opportunities, entertainment, restaurants, good schools, and plenty of shopping. These locations are still typically close enough to the city to make commuting possible.

Exurbs often exclude many of these features, which some buyers might find inconvenient, while others might not mind as much since they are trading those features for more tranquility and less congestion. These types of communities tend to have less crime and pollution as well.

Anyone who may be looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city might find the peace and tranquility of the exurbs somewhat attractive. These areas are also popular for vacation properties, especially those that are located to close to the beach, lake, mountains, and forestry.

People who work remotely might also consider exurbs an option when buying a home since they do not have to commute to and from work every day. In this way, they can afford quieter living with more space and affordability while still reporting for duty every day.

That said, exurbs are not ideal for those who like to be able to walk to everything. Since amenities tend to be located a far distance away from each other, a vehicle is usually required for all outings. Pedestrians – especially the elderly – might find life in the exurbs less attractive for this very reason.

In addition, homebuyers must also consider the fact that exurbs often have no municipal services, such as water, sewer, and garbage pickup. As such, there will likely be the need for a well and septic tank.

The Bottom Line

Suburbs have been providing homebuyers with an alternative to buying in downtown city centers for decades, offering more affordable living with more space. However, suburbs are also becoming increasingly populated and expensive as urban sprawl continues, especially in certain cities.

In these cases, exurbs provide yet another ring of living outside of the city for buyers to tap into in order to take advantage of less noise, traffic, and pollution while simultaneously benefiting from more space and a lower price per square foot.