Will suburban areas become more like urban areas in the future?

The term “surban” is one which is gathering more prominence as suburban areas become more like urban areas. Urban areas are to all intents and purposes heavily populated areas with numerous employment opportunities and a well-developed infrastructure. Suburban areas on the other hand are seen as something of an overflow from the more expensive urban areas, commonly city centres, where residents are able to commute to and from work. The infrastructure within suburban areas is significantly less well developed than urban areas but this appears to be changing. So, will suburban areas become more like urban areas in the future?


A new term in the world of real estate has emerged, surban. Basically this is suburban areas which are becoming more like urban areas as businesses move away from relatively expensive city centres on to the outskirts. So, the movement of businesses into these surban areas effectively leaves them halfway between an urban area and the suburban area. Over the last decade or so we have seen significant growth in this type of area in the US and it will have an impact on property prices going forward.

A win-win situation

The idea that some businesses are moving out of relatively expensive city centres into the suburbs is not a new one. The Internet has changed the way in which we shop and the need to be in a densely populated catchment area is not as important as it was before. In effect businesses can trade online from any part of the world, any head office and therefore they have more control over their base costs. Historically this had impacted house purchase and rental trends where obviously individuals needed to be in reaching distance of a high-density employment area.

This trend is effectively joining the gaps between suburban areas with the addition of business premises and employment opportunities on the doorstep. It will be interesting to see how this trend continues because it could reduce demand for city centre properties and increase the appetite for residential and business real estate in the previous suburbs – which many now class as surban.

Following the employment market

Those looking to invest in real estate will always follow employment markets because they are like a honeypot for those looking for jobs. Some will choose to stay in the relatively expensive city centres while others will look at the suburbs which are easily accessible from the employment centres. Those who have invested heavily in suburban properties could see a significant increase in the value of these assets, if the area can offer leisure facilities, employment opportunities and obviously accommodation within a relatively condensed area.

The catalyst for any surban area is an extremely densely populated and relatively expensive urban area central to local employment markets. There are now many different forms of public transport available which have fed demand for property in suburban areas. There are many areas in the UK which could follow this US trend and it could have a significant impact upon house prices in the immediate and adjoining areas.

We often hear an array of buzzwords but surban is one of those which actually perfectly describe the changing trends and changing attitudes towards urban and suburban living.

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