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Moving From the City to the Suburbs 


Article by Donna Hoffman

Photography by Donna Hoffman

There is a growing wave of people leaving the city and heading to the suburbs in search of more space, more privacy, and more peace of mind. Experts think that the pandemic is the cause -and I don’t disagree. 

Here’s what you need to keep in mind if moving to the suburbs into an existing home rather than building new. 

Furnishing Needs

Homes require more furniture than you realize and much of what you already own will be the wrong size or orientation, such as a sectional sofa that faces the wrong way, or a sideboard that’s too small. Furnishing and filling a new home top to bottom, with window treatments included, in today’s dollars will land between 14% and 33% of your home’s purchase price. 

When you’re upsizing, expect that to land between the middle to upper end of this spectrum.  

Furniture Costs

Furniture costs more to manufacture, ship and deliver than everyone thinks it should or wish it did.  

Seriously this sentiment is not limited only to design consumers. I think manufacturers and professionals fight that cost battle every day and although I‘m a professional designer, sometimes my jaw drops when I hear a quote to ship something to the East coast from California, or to install a runner up a curved staircase. 

Be wise when house hunting and protect more budget than you think so you will be able to furnish and fill your new digs. 

Outdoor Spaces are Amazing—AND Need Upkeep

Ok City Girl (or Boy), listen up on this one. That fantasy you have about an outdoor space for your dog and kids to roam means upkeep: lawn mowing and garden maintenance for starters. Who is doing that? If it is not you, you need to add that to your monthly expense budget so you can pay ‘the guy’ you’ll call to do it for you. 

Decks that aren’t made of a plastic composite need to be sealed and stained annually. This is not an inexpensive process and costs vary depending on your deck size. 

Outdoor furnishings will be needed so your purchasing list just increased as did your outdoor upkeep since these items must be “dealt with” at the end of the season in a 4-season climate. 

Installing dream items like pools, firepits, covered patios, hardscaping, Koi ponds and the list goes on, will drive that price tag up. 

The Best Action Plan Before Moving from the City to the Suburbs 

Together with your partner, if you have one, honestly assess your wants, needs AND budget. 

If you’ll hate living in an unfurnished or half furnished echo chamber for 9 years, consider buying less house and doing more furnishing and decorating so you’re done in under 3 years. Create a plan. 

If you’re dreaming of creating a special outdoor space carefully consider if you’re going have the upkeep wherewithal, and if not, the budget to have someone else do it. 

If you’re dreaming of a special indoor space, like a home gym or media room, be sure to reserve room in your budget for it. 

And as you start to see homes with potential and you’re considering making major modifications to them, I highly, highly, highly recommend bringing in a design professional. She/he will see things you don’t – both the opportunities and constraints. In addition, she/he will be able to advise you with realistic budget guidelines. 

Welcome to the 'burbs!