With the onset of COVID-19 leaving much of the world on lockdown, housing shifts from urban to suburban areas are expected to increase.
Losing Its Allure
Large cities for the past few years have been losing their allure to many residents. There has been a noted shift and flight from urban areas. According to William Frey, a Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution, this slow started before the pandemic. In his findings, he reports that “the nation’s three biggest metropolises—New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—began the decade with positive growth rates that turned negative over the past several years. In fact, seven of the 11 largest metropolitan areas—including Washington D.C., Miami, Philadelphia, and Boston—registered their highest growth rates of the decade in either 2010 to 2011 or 2011 to 2012. This is the case for 11 other major metropolitan areas.”
Consequently, Frey states that at the same time, the nation’s “nonmetropolitan territory began to show glimmers of growth after losing population for most of the decade”. In recent years, the largest share of movers were young adults. They were more willing and able to locate to smaller areas in all parts of the country and increasingly to suburbs.” Additionally, The New York Times, also citing Frey’s work, stated that before the pandemic, millennials and older members of Generation Z were already increasingly “choosing smaller metro areas like Tucson, Ariz.; Raleigh, N.C.; and Columbus, Ohio, according to Mr. Frey. Also growing were exurbs and newer suburbs outside large cities.”
Will Housing Shifts Continue?
In the midst of pandemic, Frey and other experts wonder if the demographic shift will continue. According to Jonathan Miller, CEO of MillerSamuels, there will be continuous shifts for the next few years as a result of the pandemic. In the past when the Great Recession happened, it sent people back into cities, so many wonder if this recession will do the same. However, the signs of life from those virtually hunting for homes are in favor of an exodus from cities.
Due to the blame on high-density residential living and the stressors of shelter-in-place orders when you don’t have any access to an outdoor space, the migration seems to be underway. According to Jonathan Miller, “the rising number of suburban single-family rental inquiries from the city has provided the initial evidence of a trend. City residents seem to be looking to test drive the suburbs and commute to their city job when ‘shelter in place rules begin to ease.'” A similar shift of those looking to get out of the city also occurred after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It did, however, reverse just a few years later.
Housing Shift Possibilities
- Exurbs and Suburbs. The Exurbs and suburbs will see a jump in incoming residents. With many planned communities and spaces like this surrounding cities, many will seek areas with more space and designated outdoor living areas.
- Second-Home Boost. Consumers with the funds may start to seriously consider and commit to that second property in areas that surround cities. According to Jonathan Miller, This potential trend would be contrarian to other significant economic downturns as second-homes are not considered ‘second-priority.'”
- Taxes Will Be Even Less Alluring. Many state officials have been briefing their residents about the forecasted budget deficits. Many areas that were not hit as severely with the COVID-19 Crisis or those with lower tax rates can look incredibly alluring to those stuck in high-density, high-tax spaces.
Housing Shifts with REALLY
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Lindsey Quistgaard is the Content Marketing Director at REALLY. She has experience writing and curating marketing content and materials for various companies including NLyte DCIM Software Company, Orange-Ulster BOCES, and REALLY. Lindsey is also freelance writer, adjunct college professor, and published poet.