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Where Do Most Immigrants Live? Suburbs vs City? Thumbnail

Where Do Most Immigrants Live? Suburbs vs City?


Immigrant populations are increasing yearly, but where do most immigrants live - suburbs vs city? It used to be city life, hands down, but today, the demographics are changing. Here's what you should know.

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Living in the City

Living in a big city has many pros and cons, especially for the immigrant population trying to get used to a new country.

Understanding the good and bad about living in major cities can help you decide if it's right for you.

Advantages of Living in a City

  • Convenience - City dwellers often have everything they need within walking distance. Grocery stores, big box retailers, and pharmacies are on every corner, as are gyms, coffee shops, and hair salons.
  • Entertainment - Just as there is retail on every corner, city residents have access to entertainment just a stone's throw away too. You may not even have to drive to see a new show or concert, go to a museum, or take in a sporting event.
  • Many housing options - A city or urban living space usually provides many options, whether you want to own a house, rent an apartment, or live in a flat with co-workers or friends.
  • Public transportation - You can survive without a vehicle in the city. Trains and buses are on every corner and get you where you need to go.

Disadvantages of Living in the City

  • The cost of living is higher - The cost of living in urban communities is usually much higher. Real estate is usually more expensive, as is the daily cost of living.
  • More crowded - Most people have much less space when living in the city. Apartments and houses are smaller, parking is non-existent, and the streets are much more crowded than in a suburban community.
  • Loud - Cities are loud compared to the more relaxed suburban lifestyle. Everyone in the city is in a rush, and there are parties everywhere you look. It's hard to find peace and quiet in the hustle and bustle of the city.

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What Does Suburban Area Mean?

Suburban communities are much less populated and more spread out than cities. Like cities, though, living in a suburban area has pros and cons.

Advantages to Living in a Suburban Location

  • Slower pace - No one is as rushed in a suburban neighborhood as in the city. As a result, suburban residents are more relaxed because they aren't fighting for parking spaces or making a mad dash to public transportation.
  • Less crowded - You aren't living on top of other people in suburban areas. The houses are more spread out, and there isn't frequent fighting for parking spots or a spot on the bus.
  • Lower cost of living - Real estate especially costs much less in suburban areas vs urban locations. You'll get much more space for the same price as a smaller city apartment or house in the city.

Disadvantages to Living in a Suburban Location

  • A car is necessary - Living in the suburbs without a car is hard. Stores, entertainment, doctors, churches, and any other necessities are miles apart and could take 20 minutes or more to get to.
  • A slower pace of life - If you love the hustle and bustle of an urban neighborhood, you might find living in suburban areas boring.
  • Fewer amenities - Because you have to travel to get to the things you need, suburban places offer fewer opportunities.

Suburbs vs City

Comparing suburban living to city living isn't an apples-to-apples comparison as there are many differences.

The key things to consider are the following:

  • Will you rent? If you're looking to rent versus buy, you'll find more opportunities in the city. Cities are more renter-friendly because more real estate covers a small area than in the suburbs. Primary cities have a higher population density and a higher number of renters, including immigrant populations.
  • Do you want more space? If you need more room or a quieter area because you're starting or have a family, suburban communities will offer more. You'll find more houses, but they are spread out and placed in a quiet neighborhood versus the hustle and bustle of a loud city.
  • Do you like to commute? Are you willing to commute if your job is in the city center and you live in the suburbs? Depending on where you live, commuting from a suburban area to a city can take an hour or longer.

Suburbs Growing More Rapidly Than Rural or Urban Areas

Since 2000, rural areas grew by 3%, urban rose by 13%, and suburban regions grew by 16%.


Growth in suburban areas has increased significantly because of the larger number of births versus deaths. For example, in suburban areas, there have been 12.1 million more births than deaths, and in urban areas, there were 9.8 million more births than deaths. This greatly increases the population growth in the suburbs.


Rural areas grew only because they've had more births than deaths, but they've had very few immigrant population increases.

In urban and suburban areas, births have exceeded deaths, helping the metropolitan areas grow.

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New Immigrants Coming From Abroad

Very few new immigrants are coming from abroad in rural areas, so those areas rely heavily on the new births outnumbering the deaths to keep their population growth.

Immigrants have accounted for a large percentage of the population growth in urban and suburban areas since 1965. Most immigrant populations, however, settle in the cities and suburbs.

People Moving From Other U.S. Cities, Including Immigrants

Suburban areas have gained almost 12 million new residents by drawing people away from urban and rural areas. This, coupled with a large number of births versus deaths, has played a role in the population growth in suburban areas.

Top U.S. Suburbs for Immigrants

California is home to some of the top suburbs for the immigrant population. San Francisco is the top city for immigrants, along with San Jose and Los Angeles. Other metropolitan areas great for immigrants include Chicago, New York City, Boston, and Milwaukee.

Urban and Suburban Counties Are Becoming More Racially and Ethnically Diverse

Urban and suburban communities are becoming less predominately white and more racially diverse. The increase in racial and ethnic diversity is primarily due to a decrease in the white population and an increase in Hispanic and other populations.

Access for Immigrants

Today, immigrants don't need to adapt to the U.S. culture before moving to the suburbs. Previously, they would move to the city first, get acclimated, and then move to the suburbs, where it's more laid back and spread out. Today, immigrant populations are growing everywhere, especially in the suburbs.

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Living in the City vs Suburbs FAQ

Do More Americans Live In Cities or Suburbs?

A majority of the American community lives in urban areas versus the suburbs. In other words, they prefer city living as opposed to suburban neighborhoods. This is projected to increase in coming years too.

What Percentage of America Is Suburban?

Just about half of American households are suburban, and about one-third are urban dwellers.

Why Do People Tend to Migrate From Urban to Suburban Towns?

People migrate from urban to suburban towns for many reasons, but most are looking for more room, more space, and a quieter lifestyle. Suburbs don't have the hustle and bustle feeling or the constant feeling that you need to be moving. Life is slower and calmer in the suburbs, and with fewer people commuting today, the suburbs provides everything they need.

Immigrants Migrating to the Suburbs - The Bottom Line

Suburban population growth is exceeding urban centers by leaps and bounds. Whether it's due to the pandemic or the discovery that life doesn't have to be so fast-paced, it's easy to pinpoint where do most immigrants live, city vs suburbs.