Since the start of the global pandemic, the world has been affected in ways we never would have imagined. Now one year into the “new” normal, people have found themselves living and working in modified ways trying to make ends meet.
As the world lived through the uncertainties of 2020 and now into 2021, throughout the country, income and housing affordability has been a concern for many people during this pandemic.
With so many people losing jobs, or dealing with reduced working hours, a shrewd strategy to weather the pandemic has been to look for more affordable housing. Reducing your housing costs is one way you can cut monthly expenses.
At first glance, while seemingly a prudent decision to lower housing costs, it appears the data on housing affordability tells us otherwise. Interestingly enough, we see an interesting trend emerge.
Surprising Trends In The Housing Market
The surprising trend we see emerging is that for the most part, throughout the country, more affluent areas have seen a decrease in rents while lower income, less affluent neighborhoods have seen their rents increase, sometimes significantly.
The question is now, “Why would this be?”
When the pandemic hit, the first response for many people was to move out of more affluent, urban neighborhoods and into more suburban, rural, less affluent neighborhoods.
Here are some of the reasons why:
Looking to lower their housing costs because of job insecurity or financial hardship, people moved out of expensive, urban markets.
For those that were lucky enough to keep their jobs and transition to working remotely (using tools like Zoom) as a result of the pandemic, they found that their need for “space” changed.
There is growing number of people who require that their homes double as work and home spaces. If you work from home, you may need more space, or at least more space that is quiet and clean. Many jobs may not come back and will remain as remote work.
For some, children who were in regular public and private school, have migrated to schooling from home. This again, can require more space and attention than that housing residents had originally planned when they picked their “forever” home.
For students who are now doing online schooling and home schooling – they need more space to accommodate those needs.
In other words, people's new pandemic lives generally require more space per dollar.
This change in the types of housing people were looking for, resulted in rents decreasing in the more affluent, urban neighborhoods, and rising in lower income neighborhoods.
Some of the richest areas in New York have seen populations drop. Wealthy New Yorkers have been leaving to go to secondary residences.
Sadly, with the pandemic already defined by inequality, this serves to generate even more potential for income disparity on those who are most affected by it.
Queens, Richmond and Kings County
Looking specifically at 3 of the 5 regions that make up the counties of NYC: Queens County (Queens), Kings County (Brooklyn) and Richmond County (Staten Island), you can see that these counties (certain areas that are traditionally expensive, large urban areas have seen their rents decrease).
Having grown up and lived in Queens County near St John’s University, Queens County saw a significant decrease in their rents by -13.90%, while housing affordability in Kings county decreased by -18.20% and Richmond County by -2.90%.
Again more expensive parts of the country saw a decrease in rents while cheaper places saw rents rise and in this area, rents decreased significantly. Again still out of the reach of lower income households.
The upshot of all this is that cities may become less oppressive as urbanites move to the suburbs to find more space… both in terms of land and distance from one's neighbor.
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