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While the suburbs have not always been able to compete with cities in terms of lifestyle offerings, shifting expectations in recent years have caused many suburban areas to offer more than the typical bedroom community. In addition to quality housing, suburban developments have begun to meet homeowner demand for shopping and entertainment options, safety, and job opportunities as well.

"With the advent of COVID-19, the American suburbs have seen a renewed interest,” says Kheir Al-Kodmany, a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. “After witnessing a generational shift that favors urban living, we see people interested in low-density living again. Applying social distancing and practicing teleworking have demanded larger living spaces and promoted low-density suburban living.”

As part of its analysis of suburbs in the U.S., StorageCafé sought to identify the suburb that struck the best balance between the coveted suburban atmosphere and the benefits of big-city living. Suburbs, defined as areas with populations between 10,000 and 100,000, were ranked based on a number of criteria, including the local median household income, housing affordability index, local employment opportunities, population density, public school rankings, the number of retail stores and restaurants, and park and recreation area square footage per capita, among other factors.

While quality housing and good schools have been staples of the quintessential suburb, the suburban landscape has undergone a transition and revamp in some locations, adding diversity to the local housing stock through upscale rental apartments, including high-value amenities such as restaurants, entertainment venues, and retail shopping stores, and offering quality jobs at a closer distance. The suburban shift was aided by the work-from-era during the COVID-19 pandemic as many Americans were no longer tied to an on-site job location for their housing.

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