There is no doubt that Covid-19 has impacted everyone in one way or another. There are a lot of uncertainties and questions in many of our lives. One thing that is for sure is that we all need a place to live and to call home.
While no one knows what the immediate future holds, there has been movement, and lots of it, during this pandemic. There is one question that we have been asked many times over the last few months and we wanted to share some anecdotal thoughts and data from our experience transacting real estate since the beginning of Covid-19.
The question: Is everyone moving to the Suburbs?
The headlines both nationally and locally certainly lead us to believe that there is a mass exodus out of cities, that they are desolate and that everyone of all ages is moving to the suburbs. For starters, all cities are not the same and it is crucial to look at real estate at a micro level vs. national level.
There are certainly a number of individuals and families that have chosen to make the move from the city to the suburbs over the last few months. However, from what we have found, the majority of those people were already planning on moving to the suburbs within the next 3-5 years and Covid-19 simply accelerated their move.
While preferences and search criteria have shifted slightly and people are placing higher value on turnkey properties, outdoor space and an office/bonus space, there are many individuals, families and couples of all ages who have decided to stay in the city. Below we will outline the motivating factors driving our clients’ decision to stay.
Ubiquitous Green Space in Boston
From the Public Garden to the Charles River Esplanade to Lawn on D and M Street Beach, there is a plethora of public outdoor spaces for Boston's residents to enjoy year round. For families with kids who are deciding between the suburbs and the city, a big driver is the thought of having a backyard in the suburbs. In New England, we can only use our backyards/ outdoor spaces comfortably for the summer months as well as the book end weeks of Spring and Fall. Many of our recent buyers have certainly placed a higher preference on having some sort of outdoor space and the young families who have chosen to stay take full advantage of the outdoor space throughout the city to entertain children, read a book, have a picnic and more!
Second Homes/ Vacation Homes
The secondary/vacation home markets have skyrocketed throughout the pandemic. The work from home orders and quarantine mandates inspired people to escape to more isolated locations such as the popular summer destinations in Cape Cod, Nantucket Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Maine and Vermont to name a few. We have noticed a shift in mindset of some of our city residents who are keeping their Boston homes as home base and planning to spend extended periods of time at an existing or new vacation home. Boston offers easy access to all of the highways that lead to some of the most popular vacation cities and towns on the East Coast.
Instead of deciding to sell their city home and purchase in the suburbs, many are seeing their vacation home purchase as a getaway home while keeping or purchasing a city home. Some other key drivers to move to the burbs include the desire for more space for your money, backyard and perhaps a pool. Some are opting to experience the best of both worlds by having a vacation home with the pool and more space while still keeping a city pad. We have also seen a trend of people purchasing larger vacation homes and choosing to downsize in the city.
Movement to Boston from Bigger Cities
Over the last few months there has been a significant increase in buyers moving into Boston from other bigger cities. We have received a large number of buyer inquiries recently from people making the move from NYC to Boston specifically. Many of these people are from the Boston area originally and with the work from home trends in place for the foreseeable future, Boston is now an option for them!
While we service all kinds of clients, a large sector happens to be young professionals/single millennials. Very few of our clients from this sector have made the move to the suburbs. Largely, these individuals are still enjoying all that the city has to offer. Yes, restaurants and bars have been closed and capacity is thinner overall but the restrictions in place will not be forever.
Variety of Homes
In Boston, there are many high rise buildings with full service management and innumerable amenities, however, there is also an extensive variety of smaller brownstone buildings ranging from 1-4 residences. Of course some of these have elevators and/or garages too. For the immediate future and perhaps longer, those who are hesitant to purchase in a high rise building with hundreds of residents, have pivoted their search to a brownstone where they have only a few neighbors and at times, a private entrance.
Let's look at some data...
Below is some interesting data that we have analyzed from Small Haul, a reputable moving company that services Boston and its surrounding towns and suburbs as well as interstate moves. This data may be surprising to some! Based on ALL move requests submitted from March - November in 2020 (covid) vs. 2019 (pre-covid), the EXACT same percentage of move requests have been submitted with a destination IN BOSTON vs OUTSIDE OF BOSTON.
MARCH 2020-NOVEMBER 2020
TOTAL MOVE REQUESTS: 2,832
Moves originating at an address in BOSTON- 1,363 or 48%
Moves originating at an address NOT IN BOSTON- 1,469 or 53%
Destination at an address within BOSTON- 1,208- 43%
Destination at an address NOT IN BOSTON- 1,624- 57%
MARCH 2019- NOVEMBER 2019
TOTAL MOVE REQUESTS: 2,146
Moves originating at an address in BOSTON- 1,000 or 47%
Moves originating at an address NOT IN BOSTON- 1,146 or 53%
Destination at an address within BOSTON- 922 or 43%
Destination at an address NOT IN BOSTON- 1,224 or 57%
**this data is based on a moving company that services Boston and its surrounding towns and cities as well as interstate moves.