Will smaller cities see a boom from the coronavirus?

After the Great Recession, the number of big-city residents boomed. Flush with jobs and thirsting for modern high-rises, young adults and families moved into dense metro areas with amenities at their doorsteps and strips of restaurants blocks away.

But those walkable urban areas have become less affordable in recent years, and the quintessential dream of a single-family home, especially after the coronavirus-induced quarantine, may be multiplying.

In the last few years, population in larger metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago declined, while more people moved into mid- and smaller-sized metro areas.

Now, as local economies and subsequently corporate offices re-open with more leniency on working from home, demographers, Realtors and even companies like Redfin predict that this movement from high-cost-of-living urban cities to more affordable areas – whether suburbs of the same area or smaller metros altogether – will accelerate.

“Redfin is preparing for a seismic demographic shift toward smaller cities,” said Redfin Chief Executive Officer Glenn Kelman in a May 15 press release announcing a new survey of 900 homebuyers and sellers. “The whole narrative of the past 200 years, of the young person moving to the big city, may turn a little upside down in the years ahead.”

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