Ever since the modern American suburb sprouted like kudzu in the post-WWII era, we’ve found ourselves in a love-hate relationship of epic proportions.
Love: Owning your own slice of the dream—a home with a front and back yard, far from urban crime, crowds, squalor, and substandard schools. Hate: Leaving behind the thrill and culture of the city and settling into a tragically unhip, homogenized milieu, skewered in all its soul-crushing glory by everyone from Updike to “Stepford Wives” to “Mad Men.”
But here’s the thing: We can’t quit them.
Even the most die-hard urbanites often wake up to realize they crave more space and better public schools at a lower price—while hopefully remaining within commuting distance of the jobs, restaurants, and indie music joints of the Big City. In some of the nation’s top metro areas, the suburbs are growing faster than the city proper.
And now with an aging millennial generation, and growing interest from minorities, suburban communities are getting a fresh influx of transplants seeking affordable, family-friendly living. From 2010 to 2017, households in the suburbs grew 7.9% nationally, compared with 6.6% growth in urban areas, according to a realtor.com® analysis of Nielsen population data.
“Most high-growth urban areas just don’t have enough land, so prices are higher and homeownership is typically lower,” says Jonathan Smoke, our chief economist. “It’s tempting to live in a walkable urban neighborhood … but the costs make it hard to afford, especially for large or growing families.”
To pinpoint which suburbs are growing the fastest, our data team looked at where the number of households, home listings, list prices, and demand for homes are growing the fastest for every ZIP code in the 50 largest metro areas—our research portal has a more in-depth analysis of each metro. What did the data reveal?
It turns out America’s most sought-after suburban neighborhoods are often the exurbs of its fastest-expanding metros—places where those white picket-fenced homes often offer a way more affordable option.
1. Denver, CO
Median urban home price: $544,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Northeast Denver (ZIP code: 80239)
Median price in Northeast Denver: $270,000
Suburban savings (moving from the city to the suburbs): 50%
The suburb known as Northeast Denver burst onto our radar with the opening of the surprisingly cool Stanley Marketplace—a chic, food-centric neighborhood center with restaurants, beer halls, and a yoga studio. It’s helping turn the former industrial neighborhood into the next hot spot.
The proof is in the prices. The median home price in the neighborhood jumped 27% last year—making Northeast Denver the fastest-growing suburban neighborhood in our analysis. (That sure makes sense, given that the city of Denver is also growing at a breakneck pace.)
“The Marketplace is one of the things really joining the top 1 percenters and the bottom 10 percenters here,” says Jessica Jiang, a real estate agent with Re/Max Momentum.
Lifelong Northeast Denver resident Jascon Willis, 37, an oil industry consultant, is witnessing the changes with some apprehension.
“It’s growing,” says Willis, who hopes longtime residents won’t be displaced. “It’s an area in transition.”
Fun fact: Bordering Northeast Denver is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, inhabited by 330 species, including coyotes, black-footed ferrets, and bison.
2. Dallas, TX
Median urban home price: $501,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Wylie (ZIP code: 75098)
Median price in Wylie: $369,000
Suburban savings: 26%
For folks who work in central Dallas but want to retreat to suburban security each night, Wylie is turning out to be just the place.
Named one of the safest cities in the U.S. by the website Neighborhood Scout, it’s home to a mix of young families as well as established professionals, with many first-time homeowners. The median home list price in Wylie currently sits at $352,000, around $100,000 above the national median—but hey, safety’s worth it, right?
With buyers eager for homes, new residential construction is booming. In fact, overall economic growth in the area has exerted pressure on the local labor market for more college-educated workers.To that end, the city worked with Collin College to sponsor a large new campus in Wylie, scheduled to open in 2020,
Fun fact: Sorry, the place was NOT named after Wile E. Coyote—the guy who supplied its moniker was railroad engineer Col. William D. Wylie, who helped pave the way for the trains that brought prosperity to Wylie in the 1880s.
Median urban home price: $1,144,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Dublin (ZIP code: 94568)
Median price in Dublin: $890,000
Suburban savings: 22%
Just over the hill from Oakland, and nestled in a region referred to as the Tri-Valley Area, Dublin represents a rare pocket of (relative) affordability in the exorbitant San Francisco Bay Area.
Not only do the homes have friendlier prices, but the city’s schools are at the top of the class, too. In fact, seven of them are rated 10 out of 10 on Greatschools.org.
We’re not saying it’s cheap—buyers will still need to pull down a Bay Area salary to buy a home here—but the number of households in this family-friendly ZIP grew 25.6% from 2010 to 2017.
According to Nielsen data, half the housing stock in Dublin has been built since 2000. Much of the city’s growth can be traced to the addition of a Bay Area Rapid Transit station, which opened in the late ‘90s, directly connecting commuters to the metro Bay Area.
To keep pace with rapid growth, the city broke ground last year on a 189-acre community that could build up to 1,995 residential units over the next seven years.
Fun fact: In 2011, the Discovery Channel show “MythBusters” misfired a homemade cannonball and hit a Dublin home during filming. We’re not quite sure what myth it was trying to bust, but Dec. 6 was thereafter named “Victory in the Battle for Dublin.”
4. Austin, TX
Median urban home price: $494,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Daffan (ZIP code: 78724)
Median price in Daffan: $348,000
Suburban savings: 30%
The suburban neighborhood of Daffan may not seem to have much in common with its hip, young city neighbor to the west. In fact, if the hood is known at all, it’s probably as the home to the Decker Creek Power Station. But that’s already starting to change.
Daffan is seeing an influx of new residents who are being priced out of the city as home and rent prices continue to rise sharply. New developments of single-family homes are going up, and suburbanites are moving right in.
And why not? What Austinites may not know is that the neighborhood is also home to the family-friendly Austin Rodeo, Fair and Stock Show as well as the Travis County Exposition Center. The latter hosts everything from rodeos to Kenny Rogers concerts.
Fun fact: The nearly 1,300-acre Walter E. Long Lake, which runs through Daffan, is the ideal place to spend an afternoon catching hybrid striped bass and catfish. Kenny Rogers tunes are optional.
5. Tampa, FL
Median urban home price: $350,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Palm River–Clair Mel (ZIP code: 33619)
Median price in Palm River–Clair Mel: $134,000
Suburban savings: 62%
Last year, we named Tampa the No.1 city where Americans are moving, due to its winning combo of cheap housing and a strong job market. But plenty of area residents don’t want to actually live within the sleepy city’s limits. So instead, they’re heading for the ‘burbs.
Palm River–Clair Mel is becoming ever more popular with cash-strapped families looking for a safe and affordable home. It’s not a cultural mecca, however.
“Most of it is strip malls and residential real estate,” says Kenneth Stillwell, a real estate agent at Spin Real Estate, who specializes in buying homes in foreclosures, fixing them up, and then selling them as rental properties to investors. But “you have a lot of three-bedroom, two-bath homes and four-bedroom, two-bath homes” for a good price, he says.
Fun fact: Palm River–Clair Mel and nearby Progressive Village area were this metro’s first planned low-income housing suburbs.
6. Orlando, FL
Median urban home price: $278,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Vista East (ZIP code: 32829)
Median price in Vista East: $231,500
Suburban savings: 17%
There are plenty of reasons to love Orlando. But one thing residents aren’t so fond of are the quickly rising home prices.
And that’s why they’re moving out to newer neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city, like Vista East, which are still comparatively affordable, and just a half-hour from the soon-to-be-Shamu-free SeaWorld.
“It’s very family-oriented. It has a community pool, a community playground, and it’s very well taken care of,” says Orlando-area Realtor® Jodi Nielsen of Re/Max Select. And it’s growing. “Everywhere you can see construction companies clearing the area and breaking ground.”
Fun fact: Orlando has 100 lakes, many of which are the result of sinkholes.
7. Miami, FL
Median urban home price: $470,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Cutler Bay (ZIP code: 33189)
Median price in Cutler Bay: $290,000
Suburban savings: 38%
Floridians who love living on the water—and want to do it relatively affordably—seem to increasingly be discovering Cutler Bay. The small town, right on Biscayne Bay, is between Miami and North Key Largo, just 45 minutes from either destination.
“It’s far enough away to have that small-town feel,” says Realtor Marcos Fullana of Choice One Real Estate in Cutler Bay. “But it’s close to the beaches and downtown [Miami].”
The best part? “It’s affordable,” he says. “You’re going to get more square feet for your money than if you get closer to downtown Miami.”
Fun fact: Incorporated only in 2006, Cutler Bay is the youngest city in Florida.
8. San Jose, CA
Median urban home price: $1,149,500
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Milpitas (ZIP code: 95035)
Median price in Milpitas: $850,000
Suburban savings: 26%
For years, the city of Milpitas has been notorious for a noxious and pernicious odor that residents claim originates in the landfills of San Jose, just to the south. The smell even inspired a couple of Twitter accounts (@MilpitasStinks and @MilpitasOdor). But perhaps the acrid air is a small sacrifice to pay for affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area?
After all, with top-ranked schools and easy access to most of Silicon Valley, Milpitas is an attractive location for tech professionals with families. Perhaps that’s why the number of households in the city grew 15.5% from 2010 to 2017.
As with Dublin, mass transit will likely play a vital role in Milpitas’ growth. A new BART station set to open in 2017 will link the city with the rest of the Bay Area.
With BART in mind, city officials recently approved a new mixed-use development of condos and retail spaces that they expect will eventually catalyze into something resembling a downtown.
Fun fact: From 1953 to 1983, Milpitas was home to Ford Motors’ primary manufacturing site in Northern California. Today, that site is the Great Mall of the Bay Area, a sprawling indoor mall whose 1.4 million square foot of retail space is anchored by a ginormous Burlington Coat Factory.
Median urban home price: $422,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Williamsburg in Murfreesboro (ZIP code: 37129)
Median price in Northwest Murfreesboro: $295,000
Suburban savings: 30%
We already know Nashville is cool. But now that’s spilling over into Murfreesboro, 33 miles southwest of Nashville. It’s the 13th fastest-growing city in the U.S., according to U.S. Census data.
In northwest Murfreesboro, neighborhoods like Williamsburg and White Haven have seen a huge influx of eager home buyers. Younger buyers can still get a home for under $250,000 if they’re lucky, says Realtor Brian Copeland with Village Real Estate Services.
Another plus is the presence of two major hospitals—St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital and TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center—right in the heart of Williamsburg/White Haven, providing hundreds of jobs.
Fun fact: Murfreesboro celebrates Uncle Dave Macon Day every July, when people honor the first superstar of the Grand Ole Opry with competitions for old-time music and dancing.
10. Raleigh, NC
Median urban home price: $418,000
Hottest suburban neighborhood: Apex (ZIP code: 27502)
Median price in Apex: $429,000
Suburban savings: Sorry, you have to pay a 3% premium. Apex is just that awesome.
In case you somehow missed it, Raleigh has become a magnet for millennials on the East Coast, benefiting from a booming job market.
That’s because the metro is home to Research Triangle Park, an area that’s home to more than 200 technology companies, including IBM and Cisco, and top-notch schools like Duke University.
And the hottest neighborhood is Apex. It’s so sought-after that it was rated the best place to live by Money Magazine in 2015.
Along with some of the state’s best schools, the community also boasts some serious small-town charm. Maybe there’s really something to that “peak of good living” town slogan after all.
Fun fact: Apex was a tobacco farming town in the early 1900s, when farmers discovered that its land produced excellent tobacco crops.