- Ben Blennerhassett/Unsplash
- Moving to the suburbs offers hidden benefits to students and families alike.
- Studies from the Census Bureau in 2017 revealed that lower-density suburbs had the fastest growth.
- Suburban life comes with its own obstacles, but understanding the main ones early on allows movers to be better prepared to live and settle in a new environment.
I moved to California 10 years ago this year, as a college student.
I didn’t relocate to Hollywood, Laguna Beach, or any other place you would recognize from a pop-culture reference. Instead, I lived in a suburban city in Ventura County called Thousand Oaks.
Calling the move a major transition is definitely an understatement. Previously, I lived in Saint Louis. My home in Saint Louis was in a busy area, across the street from a Dairy Queen and flanked by a tanning salon, a bank branch, and a Sprint store. Living in Thousand Oaks, or TO as the locals call it, was like being in a little bubble. It was quiet, family-friendly, and relatively free of crime.
During the two years I lived there, I was surprised by the number of obstacles I ran into in my daily life.
Here are are three things I wish somebody had told me before I made the move from the city to the suburbs.
1. Everything closes early
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Once I moved to the suburbs, I quickly learned that restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores, and even Starbucks closed early. It was like being Cinderella at the stroke of midnight; only you needed to leave the ball at 9 p.m.
I had grown up surrounded by stores that operated on a 24-hour basis, and knowing that they were open in case of an emergency was comforting to me.
Rather than complain that I had nothing to do, I embraced the shift. I learned how to shop for groceries and take care of errands in the morning. I’d still go out to late-night restaurants and clubs in other areas, but to this day it’s still my preference to start running my errands before 10 a.m. on the weekends.
2. You may need a car
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I’ve never owned a car. Not when I was living in Saint Louis, and not when I lived in the suburbs in California. I had a lot of friends in college who would kindly let me carpool with them. Otherwise, I walked or took the bus or city shuttle service.
Of course, this may not work for everyone living in the suburbs. If you live in an area that isn’t densely populated, have school-age children, or have a job that isn’t within walking distance of your home, getting a car may make more sense.
But if you’re young and moving to the suburbs, don’t immediately buy a car. You may not even need one. Ride-hailing companies like Uber or Lyft didn’t exist when I first moved to the suburbs, but now you can find them in virtually any city. If your area has plenty of drivers in it, you might consider forgoing the expenses that come with a car such as insurance, gas, and repairs.
3. It’s quiet
This year marks my 10th anniversary living in California. I even got to fulfill my dream of living in Los Angeles proper a few times! A few years ago, I moved to Westwood and was able to reconnect to my city roots. Stores were open late, I didn’t need a car to get around, and the sounds of the city’s hustle and bustle were all around me.
Even when I was going to sleep at night. Especially when I was going to sleep at night.
The suburban solitude had spoiled me rotten. Why were so many people talking outside my apartment? It was 3 a.m.! Didn’t anyone go home? I missed being able to crack my window open and hear only the sounds of the chirping crickets and lonely coyotes howling on the mountains.
Silence, though I struggled with it when I first moved to the suburbs, really was golden. It wasn’t long before I moved back to Los Angeles County (where I still am today) and remembered that peace and quiet may be one of the greatest aspects of suburban life. If nothing else, it’ll make sure you get a good night’s sleep.