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Could the Pandemic Cause a New York Suburb Revival?

Could the Pandemic Cause a New York Suburb Revival?
3 min. read
NYC suburb

Image: Auden Johnson / Shutterstock.com

NYC suburbs could see an influx of new residents following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to experts.

For nearly three months, many New York City residents were confined in their small apartments due to the coronavirus lockdown. This has led some of them to reconsider what they want in a home and in terms of lifestyle in general.

Outdoor space, a roomier interior and fewer people nearby have all become attractive features in a time where more densely populated areas have been especially affected by the pandemic.

Because of this, some realtors have already had many potential buyers from the city looking at more spacious options in suburban areas, which could mean an unexpected jump in sales in these regions in the near future.

Work-From-Home Dependent

Property analysts say the number of people flocking to suburban areas will depend largely on whether companies allow their staff to keep working remotely once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Some employers may choose to have employees return to their offices once deemed safe to do so, but staff members may not want to commute from a suburban area back to the city when that happens.

If companies decide that the flexibility of work-from-home setups won’t affect the productivity and collaboration required from their employees, they may choose to leave things as they are post-pandemic. That could lead to more migration to and renewed economic growth in suburban areas.

According to data from a recent nationwide Harris Poll, almost 40% of city dwellers would consider moving to less populated areas. As well, just over 40% of respondents said they had been looking at properties online.

Among the Harris Poll survey takers, those 18 to 34 years of age were most likely to say they’re considering a move, although data shows that this age group was interested in moving to the suburbs even before the pandemic started. So the COVID-19 crisis seems to be an additional push in this direction.

Data from another recent survey by Zillow showed that two-thirds of respondents would consider moving if they were able to work from home.

Some real estate agents are hearing plenty of talk about potential buyers wanting to get out of the city. And while there hasn’t been a large surge in purchases of suburban property just yet, several experts are anticipating that it will happen.

A Gallup Panel poll showed that since the coronavirus pandemic peaked in March, two-thirds of Americans have been working remotely. Other research, however, suggests that only about a third of jobs in the U.S. could be done entirely from home long-term.

According to Robert Half International, most Americans who are currently working from home said they would like to continue doing so and believe that it has contributed to a better work-life balance.

Major companies, like Twitter, have already announced that some of their employees will be able to work from home permanently. This includes Facebook, which said as many as half of its 48,000 staff members could be working remotely within the next ten years.

A Lasting Trend?

Back in 2001, after September 11, many New York City residents and companies moved to suburban areas, which felt safer and more secure at the time. When the 2008 recession hit, however, the trend was reversed, as government funding was used to help struggling Wall Street firms, which subsequently brought many new jobs back in the city.

The current coronavirus lockdown restrictions mean that even if people want to leave New York City for suburban areas, they aren’t necessarily able to do so right now. Even so, more young people seem to have lost interest in the Big Apple and no longer want to pay a premium for living here.

April home sales in the U.S. decreased more than they had in nearly ten years thanks to the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the labor market and broader economy, which plunged by almost 18%. But the possibility of increased homebuying due to a shift towards remote work is something that could spell good news for the real estate industry going forward.


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