noun | sur·ban | \ˈsər-bən\

Definition: A suburban area that has the feel of urban, with walkability to great retail from a house or apartment

Seemingly everywhere we go we see the wave of future growth, a blend of suburban and urban. We call it surban living. Urban areas abound with vibrant restaurants, public transportation, and plenty to do. But urban rents and home prices cut deeply into resident incomes. Urban schools tend to rank low, and crime tends to rank high. For all of these reasons, families tend to move to the suburbs.

Mature suburban areas took note of urban revitalization. City leaders redeveloped their downtowns or zoned an area for a vibrant mix of retail, housing, and sometimes jobs. Urban planners call these areas "mixed use," but surban better describes the mix of urban and suburban living. We trademarked the term, but everyone has permission to use the word surban without the trademark. We just want credit for coining the phrase.

Fantastic read and such great data as we move forward in these late innings of our ‘recovery’. I have scribbled notes all over the book as it is sure to be beyond valuable to me and EA Homes in the near and long terms. And yes, ‘surban’ is right on! We have already experienced the success ‘surban’ can deliver.
— Caroline Simmel, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Edward Andrews Homes

Examples of Surban Areas Include:

  • Reston Town Center in Washington, DC, suburb of Reston, Virginia

  • Downtown Naperville, Illinois, in the suburbs of Chicago

  • Old Town Pasadena, California, in the suburbs of Los Angeles

  • A-Town in Anaheim, California, in a neighborhood around the Angels Major League Baseball park

  • Legacy Town Center in Plano, Texas, in the suburbs of Dallas

  • Santana Row in San Jose, California, on a former run-down mall site

  • City Centre in Houston, Texas, on a former run-down mall site

  • Downtown Tempe, Arizona, in the suburbs of Phoenix

  • Larkspur, California, north of San Francisco, with new housing sandwiched between a top-notch high school and a rejuvenated old downtown

  • Geneva, Illinois, in the suburbs of Chicago


Featured Surban™ Articles

Surban featured in the OC Register Newspaper | January 2017

Older millennials are leaving the city for a new kind of suburb

Yahoo Finance | August 2017

Why live in a metropolis when you can find urban perks in the suburbs?

Older millennials are realizing they don’t have a good answer to that question anymore. The result: a migration out of the city.

Housing wire.png

Where are older Millennials going when they leave downtown?

HousingWire | July 2017

The trendiness and appeal of downtown may still be there for some, but as young adults start to grow older, they’re more tempted to trade in their reverse commutes and crowded shopping centers for a simplified version just outside the city. Millennials are moving to urban-like developments in the suburbs. A new report from John Burns Real Estate Consulting dubbed these types of areas “surbans.”



Drawing Buyers of All Ages to Florida's Walkable Suburban Downtowns

UrbanLand | July 2017

With so many generations to serve in Florida’s increasingly attractive housing market, how can developers be sure their product supply will appeal to their target audience?


New high-end developments bring the city to the suburbs

Curbed | January 2017

The Cannery’s “back-to-the-land” ethos at an urban price point may elicit an “only in the Bay Area” reaction. But the formula adapted by The New Home Company, positioning upscale residential within a mixed-use, town square-style community that’s a few miles from downtown, showcases how many modern developers look at building large-scale developments, especially in the suburbs.

This isn’t a new concept by any means, according to Dean Schwanke, ‎Senior Vice President for Case Studies and Publications at Urban Land Institute (ULI). The town center style of suburban development has been going strong for decades; the current push for connective, creative placemaking is “more refinement than revolution,” he says. John Burns Real Estate Consulting coined the term “surban” in reference to the increase in dense, walkable development replicating “the great American neighborhood.”


Is your neighborhood urban, suburban or 'surban?' 5 things to know about that new buzzword

OC Register | January 2017

Ever wonder how a buzzword is born? Irvine-based real estate consultant John Burns was traveling with a colleague a couple of years ago. They were talking about housing and demographics.They needed a way to describe what they saw as an increasingly popular mix: The convenience of urban amenities in more affordable, suburban settings.


5 Big Real-Estate Trends to Watch in 2017

MarketWatch | December 2016

There’s been plenty written about the move from suburban-style sprawl — marked by McMansions and strip malls — to more dense communities of different housing arrangements, such as town houses, apartments and single-family homes, together in the same neighborhoods. In 2017, look for a new name for it: surban.


Town Centers: An Urban Influence on Suburban Real Estate

Seeking Alpha | November 2016

John Burns Real Estate Consulting, LLC branded these upcoming suburban city centers “Surban” developments, which incorporate all aspects to New Urbanism.


Where People Will Want to Be: "Surban" Communities

Urban Land Institute | October 2016

“Surban” communities—suburban neighborhoods offering the most desired features of urban and suburban living—will attract the most households in the United States over the next ten years, according to a new ULI report, Demographic Strategies for Real Estate. Many people will choose to rent rather than own homes, pushing up demand for single-family rentals.


The new American suburb: diverse, dense, and booming

Curbed | October 2016

A report compiled by John Burns Real Estate Consulting for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) forecasts a trend of surban™ development; suburban development that brings the best of city living to more affordable areas.

Consulting Services

John Burns Real Estate Consulting offers two solutions to help decision makers take advantage of the shift towards surban™ living. 


Consumer and Product Insights

Add value to your bottom line by knowing what home shoppers want in their next home and community.

We have partnered with builders and developers across the nation to launch a Consumer and Product Insight survey to home shoppers who have registered at new home communities. Our first three surveys combined include more than 50,000 total responses to more than 90 questions from prospective home buyers.



Stay on top of innovative new home product trends.

DesignLens is our monthly publication and online library of photo tours recognizing new home, community, and historical design. DesignLens helps you stay on top of innovative new home product trends with a library that includes new density solutions, community design, floor plan ideas, and a connection to the top design leaders in the country.


Interested in Consumer and Product Insights or DesignLens?

To learn more about how you can better develop your next community, marketing strategy, or new product design, please contact Sara Newton-Mahony at (949) 870-1252 or by email.