You want to buy a condo, but don’t know if you should be looking in the city or out in the suburbs. Does this sound familiar? This is a common question condo seekers ask, should I live in the city where all the action is, or should I live out in the suburbs where I will get more space (and potentially a better commute to work)? Captain Home Finder has a couple factors to consider when deciding between the city lights and suburban communities.
The first thing you will need to do is determine what your budget is and how much of a condo you can afford. Lucky for you, we have a Step-by-Step Guide to Buying a Home article that covers how to calculate your budget! Typically, a similarly sized and upgraded condo will cost more in a city center than in a suburb.
Let’s take a quick peak at some real data of some popular condo spots, for our downtown example we will be using the North Loop area of Downtown Minneapolis, and for the suburbs we will use West Bloomington.
North Loop property has a median sales price of $350,000 and an average price per square foot of $309.
West Bloomington has a median sales price of $253,000 and an average price per square foot of $131.
Obviously, location is very large indicator on what you expect to spend, so take that into consideration especially if you want to live in very popular city spots like North Loop, Loring Park, and Downtown West – you will likely pay a large premium for such locations!
On the flip side of the coin, more city, popular locations appreciate in value faster than a suburban location. Data from 2016 showed city properties appreciated by 11.3% in a year and suburban properties appreciated by 6.7% in a year. If you know you will live in the condo for several years and see it as an investment or equity builder, then talk to your realtor about local market data for your search area to get a feel for current and past appreciation statistics.
Our last item to consider on cost is home owner association (HOA) fees for the buildings/locations you are looking in. Again, HOA’s are usually higher in the more luxe, popular buildings – usually found in the city (your North Loops of the world).
Now that you know how much you can spend, you need to decide how much space you need.
- How many bedrooms do you need?
- How many bathrooms would you like?
- Do you need a garage?
- Do you have a pet and need a convenient place to take it outside?
- Are you looking for a patio or outdoor space?
All of the above is available in both the city and suburbs but usually comes at a larger premium in the city, hence why the first exercise was to determine how much you can afford on a condo.
Distance to common places you commute should be another factor you consider when choosing between the city and the suburbs.
- Where do you work?
- How long are you comfortable commuting to work each day?
- If you have children, how close are you to childcare?
- Proximity to friends and family
- Proximity to frequently visited restaurants, fitness centers, and entertainment
Make sure you know what you can sacrifice and what you can’t live without when searching for your new home base.
Ultimately you want to find a condo that fits your lifestyle best, and a condo that can fit future needs.
- Do you have children or plan on having children soon? If so, are you okay with the schools located around the condo you are looking at.
- Do you value privacy a suburb can offer?
- Are you active in nightlife festivities around the city?
- Is proximity to parks and trails important to you?
- What does the shopping and grocery situation look like in your desired city and suburban spots?