by Sue Jensen

This is the third in a series of articles and local surveys that Core Design has prepared to share with our clients and contacts relative to how the currenrt pandemic and economic challenges are impacting the Puget Sound development community, along with ideas and adaptations to help us adapt and thrive. 

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Many of us have read or heard reports of urban residents moving out from the denser city centers to less dense suburban and rural communities.

The Wall Street Journal and other institutions began to report last year that Millennials were moving out of the Big Cities, heading to the suburbs for less expensive housing and better schools. Now, nearly a third of Americans are considering moving to less densely populated areas in the wake of the pandemic, according to new data from Harris Poll. Redfin reports that residents in our urban zip codes have increased their searches for homes in outlying communities. 

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Suburban New Urbanism Towns   Photo credit: Seattle Magazine

Since April, many who are able to work from home have realized they don’t need to be close to urban centers with its higher land and home costs, be reliant on transit or stuck in bad traffic. We have the Amazon model for home delivery services. Many want more square footage to provide for children, home offices, real kitchens and dining areas, which are more important when we are spending more time at home. The outer suburbs and rural communities typically offer larger homes and rental units, lower housing costs, larger yards and access to outdoor activities. If these moves occur, we could expect major impacts on residential real estate sales, home prices, the commercial market and our transportation system.

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View of Seattle from Eastside suburbs   Photo credit: Crosscut

What are your thoughts? Is this a long term trend or more a short term blip in the market?

Are we talking about moving from downtown Seattle, Bellevue  or Redmond apartments and townhomes out to the next ring of suburbs, like Newcastle and Bothell? Or will many move beyond to Arlington, North Bend, Black Diamond and Chehalis? 

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Many urban planners and urban developers doubt that urban dwellers are really ready to leave their vital City Centers with high walk scores, cafes, bike lanes and entertainment. BUT, if they did, what kinds of towns and neighborhoods would be most attractive?  ULI planners envision a smaller home town with a retail center,  good schools, parks and high speed internet services all within a 15 minute walk or bike ride might just fit the bill.