We’ve all heard stories or know people who have made the decision to leave the city during this pandemic, either temporarily or permanently. Some young people have moved home until things settle down and some people have sold their real estate and bought something outside of the city.
I don’t know know what the exact numbers are, but you can see this trend being reflected today in downtown rental rates and other indicators. This is happening in many cities around the world.
But here’s what I think about when I hear these stories:
1) Are these people assuming that we will never go back to offices and that WFH is our new reality? In this case, the thinking is simple. The world has changed. I need a proper Zoom room and a home gym.
2) Did these people never really like urban living or have they simply outgrown the city? Pre-pandemic, family formation was still a major pull away from downtowns for many. In this case, a move was going to happen regardless.
3) Or are these people taking a short-term view of the world and forgetting/ignoring that our global cities are going to rebound and that 2 hour commutes really suck? (Sitting in front of Zoom all day is also no way to live in my opinion.)
There are both positives and negatives to urban living. There are forces that make people want to centralize and there are forces that make people want to decentralize. And the reality is that many of the benefits and perks of living in a city are temporarily turned off right now.
Things are not fun right now, but this isn’t going to last. I’m looking forward to the roaring twenties.