The remote work tidal wave during 2020 dramatically reshaped the way many Americans are making their homebuying and rental decisions. Working from home and the elimination of long commutes has prompted a mass migration away from large metropolitan areas into smaller surrounding suburbs, where overall costs of living are usually more accessible. Higher demand for larger lot sizes, more square footage, and pools have also have emerged. It makes sense — if we’re going to spend so much more time at home, we want our spaces to be as comfortable as possible! It begged the question: what are the best suburbs to move to in 2021?
Homes.com wanted to dive deeper into this shift in consumer behavior, and how the sudden freedom from being tethered to the office has affected where to call home. We compiled a listing of 50 suburbs, based on the U.S. Census’s list of fastest-growing towns in each state, and ranked them against a set of homebuying criteria to uncover the best U.S. suburbs to move to in 2021.
Read on to see where your area stacks up!
To determine the best suburbs to move to in 2021 we looked at the nine ranking factors below for each city. We assigned weights to each factor based on their level of significance to a suburban homebuyer and remote worker fleeing the city. Lastly, we calculated the sum of the nine weighted factors, which gave us an overall city score for each city. The highest possible city score was 50.
- Median Listing Price
Source: Homes.com Home Values
- Median Square Footage
Source: Homes.com Home Values
- Housing Price-to-Income Ratio
Source: Homes.com & U.S. Census
- Number of Homes for Sale Per Capita
- Average Yard Size (In Acres)
- Work-From-Home Score
Source: National Association of Realtors (NAR)
- Race & Ethnic Diversity Levels
Source: Neighborhood Scout
- School District Score
- Crime Index (Where 100 = Safest)
Source: Neighborhood Scout
To measure each suburb’s housing affordability, the housing price-to-income ratio was calculated by dividing Homes.com’s median listing price in each suburb by the U.S. census’s median annual household income for that suburb. Suburbs with lower price-to-income ratios are more ideal.
Overall school district grades on Niche are calculated based on eight factors per school district: 1) academic grade, 2) teachers grade, 3) culture and diversity grade, 4) parent/student surveys on overall experience, 5) health and safety grade, 6) resources and facilities grade, 7) clubs and activities grade, and 8) sports grade. Each of these individual grades are compiled using data from the U.S. Department of Education, The National Center for Education Statistics, Niche user ratings, and multiple other sources.
A suburb of Indianapolis, IN, sitting just north of Carmel, is the top town in our ranking – Westfield, IN.
With a median listing price of $310,200 and a housing price-to-income ratio of 3.15, Westfield provides a charming mix of newly constructed, craftsman-style homes, at listing prices that are extremely reasonable in respect to the suburb’s median annual household income. The average square footage in Westfield is just shy of 2,600 square feet (the fifth highest in our ranking) and the average yard size in acres is 0.25 (the third highest in our ranking).
With the highest work-from-score in our ranking (1.6), the town provides an environment significantly conducive for remote work. Niche gives Westfield a school district grade of A+ and with a crime index, at 69, this community is extremely safe.
Rounding Out the Top Ten
Towns that followed in our ranking include Forney, TX (#2), Woodstock, GA (#3), Yorkville, IL (#4), and Leander, TX (#5). Notably, Texas holds three suburbs within our top ten, proving that suburbs outside of Dallas and Austin are hot tickets in the world of residential real estate.
At 2.29, Forney, TX (outside of Dallas), has the third-best housing price-to-income ratio in our ranking and is the second-best suburb in terms of the number of homes for sale per 100,000 people. Lastly, its average yard size is just shy of 0.25 acres (the fifth highest in our ranking).
Median square footage and average yard sizes were particular metrics of interest for this study as 57% of real estate professionals have cited client requests for larger square footage and 45% have cited requests for outdoor recreational spaces like pools, hot tubs, and decks. In the chart above, we focus on four heavily weighted individual ranking factors for the top ten suburbs, highlighting price-to-income ratios (lower = better), median square footage, average yard size (in acres), and work-from-home scores for each.
Top Suburbs for Working From Home
To round out this look at the best suburbs to move to in 2021, we mapped out the U.S. suburbs in our ranking with the highest work-from-home scores according to the National Association of Realtors. Leesburg, VA, Westfield, IN, Spring Hill, TN, and Waukee, IA top the list.
The NAR’s work-from-home score was pulled for the county where each suburb in our ranking is located. Scores range from 1.9 down to -2.2. Counties with higher scores are better poised to provide a supportive environment for working remotely in terms of factors such as the number of internet providers, broadband access, population growth, affordable housing, among several others.
Where Does Your Town Rank?
Interested in diving deeper into the numbers or see how your local area stacks up if it’s not listed above? We’ve compiled our data for all 50 U.S. suburbs to move to in 2021 into this interactive data table! Simply search for the state you call home, or click on the heading of each column to sort by that category.