2020 has been a year of ”unexpecteds.” My wife is pregnant and we are growing concerned about raising a child in the city. We are considering moving since both our jobs offer online flexibility. Any advice? Thanks for your ministry.
Headed for the Suburbs
Dear Headed for the Suburbs,
First of all, congratulations on your pregnancy! Sounds like this may be your first child, hopefully of many more!
We are seeing an “urban exodus” brought about by many pressures for those living in major metropolitan areas. The coronavirus, political and social unrest, taxes, along with the cost of living, are weighing heavily on many people that populate our cities.
Some see the current threats as irresolvable. Many, weary of months in small apartments with young children, want space. Some have lost income, making city life unaffordable. A desire to work somewhere with open skies, a backyard, and friendly neighbors are luring many to the suburbs and country. They want peace and are moving to find it. Some justify second homes in the country as a necessary retreat from the city.
A Harris Poll taken in April 2020 found that nearly half of urbanites had browsed online for places to rent or buy away from less densely populated areas. The great migration of 2020 in the U.S. is to suburbs, self-reliance, and even off-grid living.
Real estate searches in suburban zip codes jumped 13% in May. Homes in certain areas sell within hours or result in bidding wars. People, desperate to leave cities, are buying homes sight unseen. Online real estate websites include Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Homesnap, and Realtor.com. NeighborhoodScout.com grants access to information by address or area although a fee is required for in-depth analysis.
Some Important Considerations
Rent or Buy
With interest rates so low, many see mortgage loans within reach. Bankrate.com offers current rates and calculators if buying is on your radar. Do not stretch to buy with the economy being so unstable or neglect an adequate emergency fund. Even though you both can work remotely, be sure your job security is strong before making a final decision. Check out my article on renting versus buying a house to help you make a rent-or-buy decision.
Don't forget to budget for moving costs, such as:
- Renting a truck or hiring a company
- Moving insurance
- Travel costs
- Temporary housing
- Packing supplies
- Utility and rental deposits
Familiarize yourself with the area. Drive through neighborhoods. Talk to residents. Ask questions. I’ve done this everywhere I’ve purchased a home. You will learn things about the homeowner association, schools, community, and more. A familiar area near friends or family can prove helpful with a baby on the way.
- Childcare options
- School rankings and resources
- Wifi access
- Access to quality medical care
- Thriving businesses nearby
- Contractors for renovations
The Bible tells of several men moving their families to escape dangerous times. A famine in Canaan led Abraham and Sarai to Egypt (Genesis 12:10) and Elimelech, Naomi, and their sons to Moab (Ruth 1:1). An angel warned Joseph to flee for protection in Egypt with Mary and Jesus (Matthew 2:13).
Ask God to give you clear direction. Pray with your wife. Seek counsel from wise people. Then move forward in faith knowing this: “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge” (Proverbs 14:26 ESV).
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.