When you are looking for northern lights you usually need to get out of town. The lights are usually not strong enough to overpower the light that shines from street lights, homes and lit up buildings. It can happen that you see them from the city, but if the forecast is predicting low or moderate activity, you are more certain to see them by getting out into the dark.
This is even more important when there is snow on the ground. The white snow reflects the light from street lights more than the dark tamrac and “pollutes” the sky more with light.