What is an Exurb?

Many areas around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are considered to be "exurbs", such as Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Many areas around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area are considered to be "exurbs", such as Fredericksburg, Virginia.

What is an Exurb?

An exurb is a community that exists near a city, usually further away than its suburbs. Most well- to-do families live here. An exurb is also called a commuter town. People who live here are called exurbanites. Exurb is a short word for “Extra- Urban” which Auguste Comte Spectorsky coined while writing his book, “The Exurbanites” which speaks of prosperous communities beyond the suburbs. Exurbs arise when the residents commute to and from their homes to work in other cities. This situation is brought about by several issues.

  1. When a town like Tiburon in California leaves its residents jobless due to the loss of its main source of employment. These residents resort to looking for work from surrounding towns.
  2. Small towns may also attract many residents like Warwick in England who then cannot find work in such a town. They resort to looking for employment outside their towns.
  3. In other instances, places like Berlin and London, these exurbs came about after the World War II bombing which destroyed inner-city housing.

When the industrial infrastructure was shifting from Railway to roads, several towns like Crawley and Stevenage were built to stimulate development away from the cities.

Effects of Exurbs

The likelihood of housing pricing going up is high given that these commuters are a wealthy lot who always bring about renovations of already deteriorating houses to suit their class. Given that wealthy people create most exurbs, the communities who initially lived in these areas are more likely to be displaced due to high pricing of houses. Construction of cheaper houses near places of work is restricted. Exurbs increased in the 20th century in the UK and the US when people started moving from the cities into the surrounding areas. Exurbs are different regarding their wealth and level of education. In the US for example, the level of the college education is relatively high and so is their average income in comparison to the surrounding suburbs and counties. Some of these exurbs in the US include the Peachtree city outside Atlanta, Georgia, the Woodlands outside Houston, Texas, and Forest Hills, Queens, Garden City, New York, and many others.

Exurbs Then and Now

In the past commuting from these exurbs was by rail and parkway systems. Exurbs today comprises of a small neighborhood in small cities and not so developed areas.In comparison to exurbs in the early 20th century who had organized themselves on the principles of the garden city movement, today’s exurbs have neither culture nor traditions.Many suburbs experienced huge growth after the World War II which later came almost to a standstill for many years. Since the 90’s, there have been extensive developments outside the cities. City planners consider exurbs as a distorted planning. They feature as towns with less population but having large homes and highly dependent on motor vehicles. Exurbs such as those which emerged in Oregon need to be restricted by land use laws. This will help protect the agricultural lands by creating urban growth boundaries to enable higher population densities in towns. Besides, it will reduce encroachment into agricultural and forestland.


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