Over a year into the coronavirus pandemic, Minnesotans may be asking themselves why they endure the freezing winter or New Yorkers why they choose to live shoulder to shoulder. The answer for many? Work.
But the pandemic has led millions of Americans to remote work, making them reconsider what is most important to them as they establish new roots with an eye toward a return to normalcy. According to Pew Research, 1 in 5 U.S. adults (about 22%) say they either changed their residence due to the pandemic or know someone who did.
Real estate expert Stefani Berkin, President of R New York, the fifth-largest real estate company in New York City, says that Americans are beginning to reconsider their priorities when buying a house. According to Berkin, homebuyers are thinking less and less about proximity to their workplace when looking for a home.
“Americans are putting more emphasis on quality of life,” Berkin said, taking into account factors like affordability, population density, diversity, local school systems, health care, environment and recreation activities.
Even those not moving to new locations have new priorities when it comes to buying. “People haven’t really been forced to reconsider and redefine what (home) means until there was a global pandemic,” Berkin told TODAY. While homes were once a place for family gatherings, recreation time, and sleep; they are now day care centers, gyms, offices and even classrooms. Berkin notes that homebuyers are realizing they need their homes to function in new ways while simultaneously realizing that their homes can be anywhere they want.
Many companies including Twitter, Zillow and REI have announced that they will let employees permanently work from home. Once tied down to the physical office, free-roaming Americans are now on a hunt for the best work-from-home residences in the best destinations. And for all of the so-called COVID nomads who have moved in with family or traded cubicles for beaches, the question now becomes where they will settle when it is all over.
Berkin has some advice; here is her list of the top 10 cities to live in after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Median home sale price: $311,092
Atlanta is an excellent place for new startups; there was just under $2 billion of venture capital centered in the city in 2019. It serves as the corporate headquarters for Cola-Cola, UPS, Home Depot and Delta Air Lines — company anchors for people to feel and believe this city will thrive post-pandemic. What’s most exciting? The Atlanta BeltLine project, a revitalization and urban redevelopment program that includes 30+ miles of multiuse trails, 5,000+ units of affordable housing, 1000+ acres of environmental cleanup and 1000+ acres of new green space. The BeltLine also has bus, bike and walking tours of parks and trails, fitness classes, art galleries and installations, and so much more. This project will make Atlanta a national beacon for equitable, inclusive and sustainable city life. And it’s exactly what people are looking for when deciding where to live next — a place that retains its Southern charm amid a beautifully diverse and cultural environment.
Median home sale price: $454,896
Earning the nickname Silicon Hills, Austin has been a desirable location for some time now. The city is home to affordable housing options, lots of job opportunities and a bustling art scene. Major tech companies like Tesla and Apple have plans to anchor large parts of their businesses in Austin, which gives people a sense of confidence that the city will survive and thrive even after the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. Austin also provides a fun and friendly culture. Even though South by Southwest is virtual this year, the city is still the live music capital of the world. On top of this, there is no personal income tax, which makes it an excellent place to scale your business.
Median home sale price: $831,668
Those looking for the great outdoors should look no further than Boulder. According to Berkin, Boulder is a community that values both mental and physical health, factors that are top of mind in 2021. With an abundance of outdoor activities and healthy food options, Boulder is a safe haven for the health-conscious. What’s fascinating here? For the people of Boulder, work is not their defining characteristic, which is becoming true for more and more Americans as they leave the physical office behind. And you can bet with majestic mountain views and high quality of life, it’s a great place to retire.
Charleston, South Carolina
Median home sale price: $361,907
There is good reason Charleston was named Travel + Leisure’s top city in the U.S. for many years in a row. The charm, laidback lifestyle, historic sites and welcoming locals are just some of the reasons why people are flocking here. As the oldest city in South Carolina and nicknamed “The Holy City” for both its religious freedom and countless church steeples that decorate the skyline, it has preserved its beautiful architecture. You can’t beat the warm weather and living on a peninsula surrounded by beaches and water, never running out of water activities and boat rides. Additionally, Charleston provides a low cost of living and a thriving economy, which is ripe for millennials seeking job opportunities. Charleston has also become a great place to raise a family. After all, who wouldn’t want a great school system, low crime rate, endless activities and a warm and inviting welcome from neighbors?
Des Moines, Iowa
Median home sale price: $158,193
While Des Moines may come as a surprise on this list, it has plenty of great qualities that make it one of the most desirable locations to buy a home. Berkin says that after the pandemic, homebuyers are taking into account the population density of a city and trying to make sure that social distancing is built into their hometown. Des Moines is less densely populated and many of the jobs in the city require a bachelor’s degree or higher. Berkin says that combination will likely make Des Moines recover economically from the pandemic quickly. Plus, the housing prices are low here. They’re approximately 20% less than the national average. So, if you’re looking for an affordable place to live with gorgeous Midwestern landscapes (plus a city skyline) and neighbors who are so friendly they are “Iowa nice,” then Des Moines is the place for you.
Median home sale price: $316,078
There’s good reason the Music City is growing quite quickly. Berkin says it provides a great job market, high quality of life and low cost of living — all while having a great live music scene. Berkin also notes it’s an especially smart choice for young entrepreneurs interested in technology startups. They should head right to the Nashville Entrepreneur Center — a diverse community of innovators working together to provide support and resources to ensure success. And Nashville is great for the long term; it’s a popular place to retire with its reasonable cost of living, beautiful weather, access to great health care, relatively low taxes and wonderful retirement communities.
Median home sale price: $310,514
It’s no surprise that golf — a socially distanced outdoor sport — boomed in popularity during the pandemic; people flocked to places like Phoenix, which is home to nearly 200 courses. And it’s not just golf that has made Phoenix one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. Cost of living is another attractor (5% below the national average) along with low taxes and its proximity to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Phoenix is also considered a hub for technology and software companies — Uber, Yelp and Shutterfly have opened offices there and Amazon has a fulfillment center there. Job opportunities abound!
Median home sale price: $501,224
We won’t bury the lead: Portland has no sales tax! Anything you buy is sold tax-free. But if you aren’t sold on that, there are plenty of other amazing factors that make Portland a great place to call home. It’s a mecca for nature lovers, and the city is environmentally conscious. Best of all, Portlanders don’t take themselves too seriously. This is a city where you can go to work in jeans, and there will be a good chance your boss is in jeans as well. Plus, there are tons of millennials. In fact, they are the largest current share of the marketplace, making Portland a top destination for young people.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Median home sale price: $315,046
There is so much to love about North Carolina’s capital city, a place filled with young, educated people and diverse cultures. Raleigh is home to some great health care resources. It’s also less densely populated and houses many startups, which can make the city a great place to make a career change (another factor that Berkin says many are considering these days). The biggest selling point? The education systems. Raleigh is home to the excellent Wake County Public School System. And for secondary education, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina call Raleigh home. Plus, housing is affordable and property taxes are low. If this all sounds exciting, then roll on over to Raleigh!
Median home sale price: $281,097
Tampa seems to have all the right ingredients to make it a great city to live in after the pandemic: affordability, safety, job market, education and culture. Weather also plays a big role in determining where people want to live year-round, and Tampa does not disappoint. Even the ocean is warmer since it’s located on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. Additionally, you can live by a beach without feeling stretched financially. Exciting festivals, Tampa Bay History Center, art and music performances, Busch Gardens and ZooTampa offer an abundance of outdoor activities. The city is also a great place to raise a family, and there are more job opportunities than ever before, especially for those who are bilingual. Did we mention there is no state income tax?
All median home sale prices are according to Zillow.com.