by Rachel Burris
(NAPSI)—While cities have suffered since COVID-19 began spreading across the country, things may soon change.
Many people fear densely packed environments and rethink urban living as a result. At the same time, theaters, sports arenas, restaurants and museums have closed. Many people now work remotely. Everything that furnishes cities with vibrancy has all but disappeared. Yet, while gone, they’re forgotten.
A recent study by Rocket Homes found that mass distribution of the vaccine will be the antidote that both citizens and the urban landscapes desperately require.
Vaccine Distribution Increases Confidence In Urban Living
According to the data, 1 in 3 people are currently comfortable living in a large city. Once a vaccine is widely distributed, however, the population of comfortable individuals grows to 45.8%. These findings indicate that people will become 34.4% more comfortable with city living in a post-vaccine world. Meanwhile, anxiety over urban living is expected to drop by 41.1%.
Suburban And Rural Communities May Be Key To In-Migration Issues
Individuals’ current living environments played a significant role in their confidence in the safety of city living. Those already living in an urban environment demonstrated the highest levels of comfort during the pandemic and post-vaccine. Nearly half of urbanites said they are currently comfortable, while 59.6% said they will be after the vaccine is readily available.
Urbanites Are The Most Comfortable But Others Show Greatest Gains
Suburbanites are expected to become 50.2% and ruralites 63.2% more comfortable with city living once the vaccine is widely distributed. This growth in confidence for non-urban dwellers may suggest even greater hope for the future of large cities.
According to a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the true impact of the pandemic on American cities was not the out-migration of urban dwellers but the hundreds of thousands who refrained from moving into cities. If in-migration was the actual problem, the significant increase in comfort illustrated by suburban and rural residents could indicate that U.S. cities will, in fact, rebound.
Those Who Enjoyed City Living Once Will Return
Past experience with urban living is a major indicator of people’s comfort living in a large city. When you isolate individuals who had a positive experience, there’s a considerable jump in the numbers.
Two out of 3 people who characterized their experience as “the best time of my life” said they would be comfortable living in a city right now. That grows to 4 out of 5 when the vaccine is taken into consideration.
What’s more, 72.4% of current suburban residents who classified their previous experience living in a city as extremely positive say they’d be comfortable moving back into a city once the vaccine is widely distributed.
People Are Still Drawn To Cities
While the restaurant industry has taken a severe beating by the pandemic—with restaurants forced to close their doors and their employees to file for unemployment—individuals seem to have faith in their ultimate endurance.
When it comes to what makes them interested in living in a large city, half of respondents pinpointed restaurants. There’s a belief that a host of new eateries will open and provide cities with the same magnetism they had before.
How Do Comfort Levels Vary By Metro Areas
As the epicenter of the country’s first wave of the pandemic, New York City displayed the most resilience, having the largest population that reported being comfortable currently (42.6%) and post-vaccine (55.6%).
On the other side of the country, Seattleites demonstrated the most reluctance regarding city living. Only 29% of Seattle’s residents reported feeling comfortable living in a large city now. Post-distribution comfort levels were not much better, as the percent of Seattle residents who said they would feel comfortable living in a city merely rose to 40.3%.
Back on the East Coast, Boston showed the greatest growth in comfort. Although Bostonians had lower levels of confidence in city living, their reported comfort level increased by 44.1% when the vaccine was mentioned. By contrast, Chicagoans illustrated the lowest gains. Comfort in urban living increased by just 22.4% for residents of the Chicago metro area.
As for the prediction that the new wave of remote work will cause commercial districts to shutter and urban talent pools to drain, job opportunities still ranked as #2 on the list of what continues to draw people to cities. For 46% of participants, work would still motivate them to live in one of the country’s major cities.
The data further shows that the new remote work trend isn’t affecting individuals’ desire to reside in cities. Only 7% of respondents selected the ability to work remotely as a reason to not live in a city. It was the least popular reason chosen, suggesting that although cities are expensive, individuals would still prefer to work in them than in more affordable areas.
Cities’ Drawbacks Haven’t Changed Either
When asked what made them uninterested in living in a large city, high cost of living was the top reason selected. For 57% of individuals, it’s the exorbitant prices that make them question city living.
Germs fell toward the bottom of the list, having been chosen by only 28% of respondents. It appears that it isn’t a fear of the pandemic that’s making individuals question cities so much as their ability to afford them.
The pandemic is not killing cities, but the high cost of living is slowly squeezing people out. If we want the country’s urban areas to not just survive but thrive, we must think more seriously about ways we can rebuild our cities to make them more affordable and inclusive. COVID-19 has provided our country with a unique opportunity to rethink the way we live and transform our greatest cities accordingly.
For further facts and figures on real estate trends in America, go to https://www.rockethomes.com/blog/home-buying/post-covid-urban-living.
• Rachel Burris is a data-driven journalist covering housing trends and real estate economics.