The suburbs are becoming more alluring to residents of major cities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues into autumn.
Zillow and Yelp have joined forces to create a Cityness Index to help people find suburban locales that possess a touch of urban appeal — think restaurants, cultural attractions and nightlife — while offering more space and lower home prices than can be found in big cities. The index highlights the appeal of suburbs such as Lowell, just 25 miles northwest of Boston.
The new Cityness Index combines various data points from Yelp and Zillow, including housing availability, inventory and home values compared to those in the nearest major city. Other criteria considered includes a mix of businesses similar to what’s found in major cities, a high level of consumer activity, a diversity of arts businesses, and restaurants and nightlife. The index assigns a Cityness score to each suburb near a major city and identifies the highest scores in the biggest metro areas in the U.S.
Lowell received a Cityness Index Score of 64.7, ranking it second behind Waterbury, Connecticut among the nation’s “top 10 suburbs with a city feel.” The typical home in Lowell is valued at $323,576, and homes sell for about half the prices as in Boston. Attractions contributing to the suburb’s high ranking include the Merrimack River, cultural offerings like Lowell National Historical Park and a variety of well-reviewed dining options.
Yelp’s data indicates that quote requests for movers have increased by 34% in San Francisco, 22% in New York City and 6% in Los Angeles. A Zillow poll conducted in May showed that approximately two-thirds of Americans who were newly working from home would consider moving if they could continue to work from home occasionally.
“At Yelp, we’re seeing consumer interest and requests for quotes in categories like movers, packing services and mortgage lenders increase in major metro areas, compared to the same time period last year,” according to Yelp trend expert Tara Lewis. “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 and a more affordable lifestyle, these suburbs offer a similar variety of great local businesses.”