Imagine a town square full of luxury condo and apartment buildings, boutique stores, Metro stops and upscale eateries, all within a few blocks' walk. It may sound like a scene from Northwest D.C., but it's not. All of those perks of urban living are found in the close-in Maryland suburbs of Rockville, Silver Spring and Bethesda.

Bethesda Row, which encompasses the areas of Wisconsin and Woodmont avenues near the Bethesda Metro station, is decidedly upscale, very walkable and has more than 200 restaurants in the surrounding area. Condo and apartment living is prevalent, but single-family homes are available as well. As of May, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems statistics, the average sale price of a home in this area was $607,027, with most condos listing for between $200,000 and $299,000 and most single-family homes listing for more than $1 million and none for less than $500,000.

If those prices are too high, Silver Spring also has an urbanized area. Aptly dubbed Silver Spring Downtown, the area has seen major growth recently with 1,225 new residential units being built in the past five years.

"The revitalized Silver Spring has plenty to do," said Arlene Goldberg-Gist, a longtime Silver Spring resident. "There's an [American Film Institute] movie theater, plenty of restaurants, music festivals and a farmers market. Downtown Silver Spring will soon have a new ice skating rink and, hopefully, a new Fillmore music venue."

In this area, the average sale price of a home was $450,200 in May, according to the MRIS. The majority of condos listed for between $200,000 and $299,000, just like Bethesda, but here there were a couple of condos listed for as low as $100,000. Single-family homes ranged mostly between $450,000 and $699,000, which a few reaching as low as the $200,000 mark.

Rockville Town Square also offers urban living but it's a bit more sprawled out than the other areas. It is similar to Reston Town Center in Virginia. Billed as the new downtown Rockville, the area is mixed-use residential with red-brick sidewalks, shops, bars and restaurants mixed in with the housing. The atmosphere is geared for singles or young families. There are community events, such as concerts on the square in the summer, and the flagship is a new 100,000-square-foot public library.

"Rockville has really been developing a lot of condos along White Flint," said Bethesda Realtor Melinda Estridge. "It's sort of like Bethesda but not as concentrated and not as upscale. You're more likely to have to get into a car and drive to a place than in Bethesda where you can walk." This area also has more chain restaurants such as Applebee's and Hooters.

Here, the average sale price in May was just under $500,000, with most condos listing for between $250,000 and $299,000 and most single-family units listing for between $500,000 and $599,000. There were less expensive homes listed, however, with some condos as low as $150,000 to $199,000.

Urban living may provide residents with many desired amenities but there are some drawbacks, according to Estridge. "Parking is always an issue in Bethesda," she said, and noise can also be a negative factor. Bethesda in particular "is very active in the evenings," she said.