In the process of urbanization, local residents have been found to increasingly withdraw from their everyday landscape, particularly in sub- and peri-urban communities. These tendencies may represent a consequence of unfulfilled needs which in turn alter the expectations of the inhabitants. Previous studies suggest that the needs involved in these dynamics are not only related to spatial matters, but particularly to social aspects like integration, identification and cooperation. The present study aims at comparing residents' needs regarding their living environment in several communities typical for the agglomeration of greater Zurich. An instrument was constructed to assess the residents’ basic residential needs as well as perceived residential quality using 35 questions respectively. These needs and quality evaluations can be empirically divided into four factors (cf. Frick & Buchecker, IAPS 2004): (a) Nature, restoration and security, (b) hobby, culture and social contacts, (c) aesthetics and town structure, and (d) involvement, corporate feeling and self-realization. A representative survey was conducted in three communities in Switzerland (n = 1096) which differed with regard to their degree of urbanization, (i.e., suburban, peri-urban, rural commuter community).The relevance of the assessed needs was rated differently in the three communities. In particular, nature and restoration was significantly more important in the rural community, whereas inhabitants of the peri-urban community rated social contacts on one hand, and privacy and comfort on the other hand more important than the rest of the sample. Residents of the suburban area were least attached to their living environment and needs were least articulate in all dimensions. The factor nature/security was the only one significantly related to perceived overall residential quality in the peri- urban community. In the rural community, social involvement – which was also rated most positively here – additionally predicted overall quality. Suburban residents seem to be more related to the city as a whole, however a positive evaluation of the architectural characteristics of their neighborhood (e.g., traditional buildings or a identifiable village center) seems to increase identification and quality ratings.Our results demonstrate that the residents' needs structure changes with the urbanity of the residential environment. The less urban a community, the more important become the social dimensions of residential quality. Thus, sustainable landscape development in peri-urban areas implies focusing on the quality of life in a comprehensive sense and, equally consider the residents’ social needs instead of merely spatial matters.