- Beatrice de Jong is a licensed real estate agent and consumer trends expert at Opendoor, a real estate company that makes it simple to buy and sell a home online.
- While the COVID-19 pandemic inspired many people to pack up and leave cities for greener suburban pastures, a permanent relocation is more serious.
- If you’re considering a long-term move, it’s important to know if you’ll be able to keep your job and work remotely once the office reopens.
- You should also ask yourself if it’s a wise financial decision, if you’ll able to find a more affordable home, and if it would improve quality of life for your family down the road.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The coronavirus pandemic has spurred lifestyle changes across America. With companies offering an increasing number of remote work options and schools transitioning to virtual classes, many people are reevaluating their current living situation and future plans. Additionally, mortgage rates have reached historic lows, encouraging many first-time homebuyers to enter the market.
While owning a home in a major metro might have been necessary or desirable before, data shows that many city dwellers are flocking to suburbs and more rural areas. Are you thinking about moving out of a city or buying a home in the suburbs sometime soon? If so, here are five questions to ask yourself.
1. Can I keep my job?
With companies implementing work from home policies, employees are experiencing more flexibility than before. If your decision to live in the city was based on being close to your office or to save money on a costly commute, you may find that it’s no longer necessary to be there.
If you’re contemplating a move, I recommend checking in with your employer to understand what remote work may look like for your position at the company in months to come. Will office activities resume as usual? What’s the expectation for your team? Will you need to come in on a semi-regular basis, such as monthly or quarterly? Will your role, responsibilities, or compensation change if you opt to be fully remote? Having this conversation early and checking in about it often can help guide your decision about where to move.
2. Will my kids’ schooling and social involvement be affected?
For many families, the decision to buy a new home is often tied to where their kids will go to school, along with how moving could affect their involvement, social life, and extracurricular activities. Many families also try to avoid moving during the school year to minimize disruptions.
However, just as remote work has become a new normal, virtual schooling has become mainstream. If you’ve stayed in the city to be close to a specific school or district, or worry about adjusting your child’s routine or social life, you may find that recent adjustments make relocating a bit easier for them.
3. Is city life still appealing to me/my family?
With restrictions, shelter-in-place mandates, and some permanent closures, cities are changing. Though no one knows exactly what metropolitan life will look like months — or even years — from now, a recent Harris Poll survey shows that nearly one-third of Americans are considering moving to less densely populated areas. And, people in cities were twice as likely as those in suburban and rural areas to have recently used a real estate website to search for a new home.
For young homeowners or aspiring buyers in particular — such millennials and Gen Z — a major metro may not have the same appeal as it did before COVID-19. Many of the social distancing and other safety practices put in place during the pandemic could be here to stay — especially when it comes to common areas, shared facilities, public elevators, and transportation. These are all important factors to consider if you’re contemplating whether or not to stay in the city.
4. Is moving out of the city a sound financial decision?
Living in the city can be more costly than living in the suburbs or a rural area, regardless of whether you’re renting or making mortgage payments on a home you already own. And while some rents dropping in the last few months in hot markets like New York and San Francisco, home prices are still high in cities across the country.
It’s worth noting that almost one-third of Americans plan to buy a home in the next five years, and home shoppers could save money by moving to a more affordable area. In addition, mortgage rates have reached historic lows, inspiring potential homebuyers to make a purchase sooner than initially planned.
Could you upgrade your home with increased buying power in a less expensive location, save money on monthly mortgage payments by downsizing, or simply reduce your overall cost of living? If so, moving right now may be a smart financial decision.
5. Would my quality of life improve?
When considering a big move, it’s important to take time to reflect on your current situation. Relocating to the outskirts of the city or a new neighborhood can mean upheaving your lifestyle and saying goodbye to friends and familiar surroundings. On the other hand, moving to an area where you have more buying power or can be closer to family may improve your overall quality of life.
New home trends are taking shape too. An Economic Pulse Survey conducted by NAR in May shows that 13% of realtors report homebuyers have changed at least one feature that’s important to them due to COVID-19. With 54% more people cooking at home than they did before the pandemic, it’s no surprise that desirable kitchens top the list. Extra bedrooms, open floor plans, and good lighting are also important features. Would having a home office, pool, or yard be worth leaving the city? If so, it may be a trade-off worth exploring.
Relocating to a new city or buying your first home are major life milestones, and it’s important to consider your options and take your time making the decision. Asking yourself these important questions can help you understand your current priorities and options. No one knows what the future of cities or suburbs will look like, but you can decide what makes the most sense for you and your family right now.