A new poll shows that nearly 40% of urbanites are considering fleeing the city as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
Recent reports indicate that the pandemic may continue at least two to three years. Now urbanites with the means to move are avidly discussing where to live, how to live, and how to educate and care for children—and they’re serious: 43% have recently browsed real estate websites, according to the same poll.
A small but significant number have already moved, intending temporary relocation, and are now debating what’s next. Others are simply moving a few miles away to the suburbs, in search of daily outdoors access without risk of accidental infection by a heavy-breathing neighbor. As the New York Times reported in March, the ultra-wealthy have already fled.
Given that relocating often involves thousands of dollars in moving costs, lost work, broken leases, and temporary payments on two homes, urban flight is only a viable option for wealthier households with remote employment options. If city dwellers do pull the trigger, the exit of upper-income urbanites could further decimate the city restaurant, arts, and social life cultures that depend on their patronage. A similarly large-scale urban flight took place in New York City in 50 years ago, leaving Manhattan gritty and underfunded in the 1970s.
The Harris Poll surveys approximately 2,000 Americans each week on a variety of coronavirus-related topics. The poll indicates that urbanites may also be under more financial pressure due to the pandemic: 40% say they have sought new forms of income, as opposed to 30% of suburban and rural residents.