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Yelp Partners with Zillow to Name Top Affordable U.S. Suburbs With a City Feel

Today, Yelp announces a partnership with Zillow to name the Top Affordable U.S. Suburbs With a City Feel, using a new “Cityness Index” to pinpoint U.S. suburbs that best strike a balance between indoor and outdoor space, affordability and urban amenities that have long drawn Americans to cities.

More and more Americans are working remotely and rethinking how and where they want to live. In fact, Yelp data shows that the number of quotes requested for movers recently increased 34% in San Francisco, 22% in New York and 6% in Los Angeles*. At Yelp, we’re also seeing consumer interest and requests for quotes in  categories like movers, real estate agents and mortgage lenders increase in major metro areas, compared to the same time period last year. For city-dwellers who don’t want to sacrifice great amenities, like restaurants, art galleries and nightlife, but are dreaming of a little more space, these suburbs offer a similar variety of great local businesses.

The Cityness Index combines data from Yelp and Zillow to identify lesser-known areas near major U.S. metros that offer amenities to make the suburbs feel like big-city living. Key metrics include housing affordability compared to the nearest big cities and to the country at large, housing availability, the mix and diversity of businesses — including restaurants, nightlife and the arts — and consumer reviews and check-ins. 

Yelp and Zillow’s Top Affordable U.S. Suburbs With a City Feel 

  1. Waterbury, Connecticut (New Haven)
  2. Lowell, Massachusetts (Boston)
  3. Joliet, Illinois (Chicago) 
  4. Sunrise, Florida (Miami) 
  5. Pasadena, Texas (Houston)
  6. Lancaster, California (Los Angeles) 
  7. Hampton, Virginia (Virginia Beach) 
  8. Marietta, Georgia (Atlanta) 
  9. Norman, Oklahoma (Oklahoma City)
  10. Tempe, Arizona – (Phoenix)

The top suburb in the 25 largest metro areas included in the study, ordered by market size, are**

  • Edison, New Jersey (New York) 
  • Lancaster, California (Los Angeles)
  • Joliet, Illinois (Chicago) 
  • Denton, Texas (Dallas) 
  • Pasadena, Texas (Houston)
  • Frederick, Maryland (Washington, D.C.) 
  • Sunrise, Florida (Miami)
  • Marietta, Georgia (Atlanta) 
  • Lowell, Massachusetts (Boston)
  • Concord, California (San Francisco) 
  • Sterling Heights (Michigan) 
  • Rancho Cucamonga, California (Riverside) 
  • Tempe, Arizona (Phoenix) 
  • Everett, Washington (Seattle) 
  • Oceanside, California (San Diego)  
  • Spring Hill, Florida (Tampa) 
  • Annapolis, Maryland (Baltimore) 
  • Westminster, Colorado (Denver) 
  • Beaverton, Oregon (Portland)  
  • Rock Hill, South Carolina (Charlotte)  
  • Elk Grove, California (Sacramento) 
  • Hamilton, Ohio (Cincinnati) 
  • Independence, Missouri (Kansas City) 
  • Georgetown, Texas (Austin) 
  • Hampton, Virginia (Virginia Beach) 

Let us know what you think about the list of top suburbs on Twitter and Instagram @Yelp! 

Methodology

The Cityness Index is designed to highlight cities with vibrant amenities and relatively affordable housing, which result in a city-like environment in a more-affordable suburban region. Any city not included in the official name of a metropolitan area, as defined by the U.S. Census, were counted as a suburb in this analysis. The highest-scoring suburb in each of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas were considered, with the highest scores among those making it into the final top 10 list of the most city-like suburbs. 

There were four individual Yelp indicators evaluated for each suburb to determine its cityness.

  1. A mix of businesses similar to major cities
  2. A diversity of restaurant and nightlife businesses
  3. A diversity of arts businesses
  4. A high level of consumer activity 

Among these, the mix of businesses indicator was given most weight.

The mix of businesses were found by comparing the distribution of open businesses across its major business categories, such as home services and restaurants, in each candidate city with the average distribution in several of the largest. U.S. cities. Diversity of business type was measured across two sectors: (1) restaurants, food, and nightlife; and (2) the arts. Suburbs were compared by how many unique types of businesses, such as piano bars or diners, are present. Consumer activity was measured as the number of page views, reviews, and photos per business.

Zillow analyzed five main variables. The most impactful variables were targeting affordability of these suburbs compared to the principal cities in the metropolitan area and the US overall: 

  1. Ratio of typical home values in the suburb compared to the principal cities, defined as those named in the official Census MSA name (e.g., Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington home values were used for comparison in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro)
  2. Ratio of typical home values in the suburb compared to the national median

The other housing related variables were targeting the availability of for sale, new for sale, and rental inventory:

  1. Ratio of new for sale inventory in the suburb compared to the principal cities
  2. Ratio of rental inventory in the suburb compared to the principal cities
  3. Ratio of existing for sale inventory in the suburb compared to the principal cities 

In each of the Zillow variables, multi-unit housing was given extra weight in calculating inventory to emphasize housing availability in more dense, city-like parts of town.

The collection of Yelp indicators and Zillow variables were each given 50% of the overall weight for the final index. Scores reflect data from June 2020 to August 2020. 

* Compared to the same period (June through mid-August) last year

**Waterbury, CT and Norman, OK are not included in this list due to the size of their MSAs