The BEST WAY to “Test Drive” a Town? Live Like a Local.

Jul 26, 2019

Explore the suburbs like a pro, by living like a local…at least for the weekend.


Picking a new town to call home is a big decision—especially if you have more than one community you’re loving.


While being open to a few spots is great, it can also feel overwhelming. How are you supposed to know which town is “right” until you actually live there? And what if those few towns on your list are all amazing—but one is actually a better fit than the others?

If that sounds familiar, STOP. Take a beat, take a breath and consider test-driving a town or two. Just like you wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a spin, we highly recommend sliding into local life for a weeknight and a weekend and seeing how it “fits.” Here’s how:

WEEKDAY: Do the morning AND evening commute

Wondering what your daily commute would be like? Try it. Pick a day during the week, “sleepover” in your could-be community and commute to and from work. Do everything you’d “normally” do—drive, walk or bike to the train station, take the train you’d be taking, hop on the subway once you get to the city, whatever. A dry run is a great way to be “eyes open” about the experience.


To that end, take note of everything. What’s parking like in the lot—and can you even get a spot? Can you get a seat on the train? Is it a comfortable and reliable commute? Could you see yourself doing this every day?


WEEKDAY: Scope out the after-school scene

While you’re in the area during the week, take a few minutes to drive by the schools—ideally, when kids are getting out. Are kids off to soccer practice? Are buses lined up to take them to after-school enrichment classes? Are libraries and Starbucks packed with SAT prep? Do younger kids head to local playgrounds—and who are they going with? Mom? Dad? Nannies? Au pairs?



WEEKEND: Spend a weekend with the kids

Work with your Suburban Jungle Strategist to arrange an Airbnb or other “home-y” spot to spend the weekend in a town you’re considering. During that time, really lean in and spend the weekend exactly as you would—head to the sports fields, the local or neighboring downtown, restaurants, coffee shops, events and activities, parks and other hotspots.


And, while you’re there, don’t hesitate to talk to other families. Do they like living there? Any recommendations for things to see or do? What made them choose this community?


WEEKEND: Spend a weekend – WITHOUT kids

If you’re loving the town after testing the commute and cruising around with the kids, it’s time to get your feet wet date-night style. Even if it’s just a quick afternoon or evening out, tackle a few of your faves—check out the local farmers’ market, grab lunch at that cute café and do a bit of sightseeing. PM visit? Go out for dinner, grab a drink and hit up the nightlife. Be on the lookout for live music, movie theaters and other activities you enjoy.

Don’t forget: Take your search to social media…

Ideal for any day of the week, take your search to social media. While some Facebook groups may only allow active residents, some will happily let a prospective resident in—and this can give you a great perspective on the latest chatter, hot topics and community priorities. Or, better yet, ask your Strategist to connect you with an in-town “Local” who can answer any questions about their community.

There are hundreds of towns to choose from. How do you figure it all out? You simply don’t, without getting a Suburban Jungle Strategist to help you through it all. Schedule here for your strategy session with our innovative suburbs strategy team. All services are completely free.



Find Your Way Home