Did COVID-19 cause an end to the decades-long urban renaissance?
Are millenials following older generations to the suburbs?
Will outsized migration to Sun Belt markets continue?
Cities have been hit especially hard by the pandemic. The idea of living in close proximity to others and sharing walls, elevators, and other tightly confined spaces — mainstays of city living — suddenly lost their appeal. At the same time the appealing aspects of cities — centrally located offices, public transportation, live entertainment, and cultural venues — were all curtailed. That encouraged many residents to seek out second homes or more permanent households in the suburbs, where space comes at less of a premium. Some are looking even farther out for refuge. Back in the spring, Redfin reported an exponential increase in searches for homes in rural locations.
So did COVID-19 mark the end of a decades-long renaissance for America’s cities? Not so fast, according to the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) latest trends report. Even expensive gateway cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., will hold on to their long-term appeal, particularly for younger generations. You just can’t match what these cities offer when it comes to education, entertainment, and social opportunities (on the other side of the coronavirus). If anything, according to ULI, COVID-19 merely stepped on the gas of two trends that were already in motion pre-pandemic: 1) Aging millennials moving to the suburbs in greater numbers and 2) Increasing overall migration to more affordable Sun Belt markets.