Things may look a little different than they did at its peak in the ’80s, but suburban life is making a strong comeback. Families are consolidating while seeking the lower prices and ease of suburbia. Cohabitating is trending away from urban housing prices on a large scale — and it’s not just among post-college career builders. The 2020 pandemic created a powerful exodus that’s reshaping communities and redefining security. Let’s take a look at the most notable reasons suburban cities and multifamily housing trends lead the real estate market.  

Multi-Family Housing Trends

In a hot market shift, about one-third of the multifamily building has moved to the suburbs. Multi-unit, high-rise, urban housing is giving way to two and four-unit buildings in outlying city areas. The pandemic has made common areas less social, making safety and security a higher priority. This shift means townhomes and condos in low-density areas are outpacing high-density markets and have been for the past four quarters.  

Suburban Cities

As renters shift to the suburbs, many look for urban amenities to follow them, creating suburban cities. Single-family home construction is also on the rise, but with the affordability of multifamily and connected units, suburban cities dot the maps of once rural and low-density places. 

The New Normal of the Home Office

Remote work won’t remain permanent for all offices, but it has already shaped a permanent shift for most companies. This has led, in part, to this shift to suburban city life. It’s also led to home floor plan designs with one or more home offices. 

Digital Demands

Shifting to the suburbs is not just a move to be closer to family, now that the tether to the physical office has been cut. And it’s not just the affordability of the suburbs. The largest home-buying and multifamily home-renting demographics are digital dependents with an increasing appetite for technology. That means multifamily home builders need to be just as voracious in their technology adoption, opting for smart home designs at the building stage, not as an afterthought. Touchless options, devices connected to utilities and appliances, built-in security options, and of course, connectivity and faster bandwidth for gaming, streaming, and remote working are all important considerations. 

Space and Sustainability

The ongoing discussions around sustainability include rental homes. Instead of treating rentals as temporary housing or a place for transitional young adults and families, rentals are seeing long-term renters if they have the right amenities that include sustainable initiatives and safe common spaces. Urban-style gardening options, such as small patios and balconies for container gardening, are one such example. These smaller outdoor spaces also allow for smaller gatherings and distanced socializing with neighbors — a preference over larger common areas with shared amenities that support large gatherings. 

Suburban Life Sees a Strong Comeback

The exodus to the suburbs reflects changes within our society and economy. Many movers just want to reside closer to family, while less expensive housing is the primary draw for others. Many of the fastest-growing cities with expanding suburbs are in the South and Southwest, although this trend is nationwide. There are certainly some differences between the demands of suburbanites of the 80s and those of today. Renters are looking for carefully designed open spaces, sustainability initiatives, smart home automation, and other digital demands, as well as floor plans that include multiple home offices. Amenities are also a hard line for many who want the convenience of city life as high-density home life shifts to low-density areas. 

As suburban life makes a comeback and multifamily homes become the answer to low-inventory, high-priced cities, the most successful investors and builders will be those who listen to residents’ needs in the new normal of 2021 and beyond. 



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