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What is a Bedroom Community?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 17, 2024
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Many people commute to large cities for work every day, but few could ever afford to live within their borders. Even a number of suburban areas have become too expensive for average workers to afford. One solution to this work versus life crisis is known as a bedroom community or commuter town. This type of community is generally a smaller city or town located even farther from a major city than the suburbs. The economic base of the community is housing sales and general retail sales, not heavy industry or technology.

While some suburban areas could still be considered bedroom communities, many of them have either been absorbed into the larger metropolitan area or have developed industrial and business bases of their own. A proper bedroom community is generally located in the exurbs, less developed areas separated from the suburbs by green spaces. A commuter town may be located on a major highway into the larger cities, or it may be in a more isolated semi-rural area.

A bedroom community is often an incorporated city with its own municipal government and public services, but the economic emphasis is more about housing and retail sales rather than entertainment or industry. Employment opportunities for younger residents of a commuter town may be limited to low-wage service or retail jobs. Most residents of the community are gainfully employed in larger cities or work in more developed suburbs nearby.

Ironically, housing prices in popular bedroom communities near major cities can be significantly higher than those found in suburban areas. While suburban cities may have a diverse economy, these communities generally offer one major commodity, and that is large houses located far from the city. Prices for homes in them can be very competitive indeed.

A bedroom community located in the exurbs may not receive as much name recognition as the larger suburban cities, but many residents prefer the low-key nature of commuter towns to the constant dynamics of a larger city.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to America Explained, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon236920 — On Dec 26, 2011

In response to Clairdelune, what recreation? Shopping? Going to school? Getting drunk? Eating? These are not recreations. Not everyone in bedroom communities lives near a park, movie theater, or etc. And, most everything recreational in public for adults in these cities is the opposite of social: sitting in a dark theater? Fishing? Golfing? Being drunk (maybe they socialize, but it's not worth joining them in)? Eating (this is part of the obesity cause - eating as recreation)?

If you want something fun to do as an adult (thinking you're having fun when not due to cheap tricks of drugs does not count), there's a good chance you will have to commute to a healthy city to find it, or to leave cities altogether. If you don't have a car in these cities, you're trapped.

In general, as a kid, you enjoy these cities. Then, you grow up. Suddenly, you have nothing in common with your neighbors besides location. There's nowhere healthy to meet other single adults, not much to do that's fun and healthy outside your home, few available jobs to start you off into working life, despite that's required to get jobs in the city-hub your commuter town's populace largely works in.

Frankly, this is in itself why people are glued to the internet and why even non-gamers are playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs). Because too many of us in the U.S. are trapped in these poorly designed towns and cities that can't meet our needs.

By Esther11 — On May 19, 2011

@Clairdelune - I know what you mean. I'm happy to stay in my forty year old house in the suburbs. It's a little down-trodden, but I like my neighbors. There are malls close by and every kind of service I need. My house is paid for and I don't have to drive too far to work.

Then I think about those young families who live in the bedroom community fifteen miles from here. They have these huge houses with big mortgages. Both the husband and wife work. Then they have to drag kids all around to activities. I can't imagine the cost of their commute to work. There are a lot of stores and restaurants, but not much else.

Wow! What a rat race their life must be.

By Clairdelune — On May 18, 2011

Large cities keep growing by building farther and farther out, almost to the cow pastures. In the middle is the city center, then the suburbs,then the bedroom communities, and then the rural farms. Living in any of them, you have the good and the bad.

I've noticed in my city, the downtown area is filled with retired people, yuppies and the bums.

Then the suburbs have some industrial plants and older people living in older houses. Bedroom neighborhoods are way out there and have lots of young families living there. Everywhere you can find grocery stores, Targets and Fred Meyers. People say that the best schools and recreation are in these areas. Oh, and there's lots of restaurants too. The big problem is driving to work downtown. It's a long drive. And, with gas being sky high, it's getting real expensive.

I think I'll stay in my little split-level house in the suburbs!

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to America Explained, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
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