This awful coronavirus may define our time. But it shouldn't; it should make us stronger, kinder and smarter, and hopefully it will. We have been seeing examples of that everywhere, from communities supporting the most vulnerable to individual examples of paying it forward.
The global human toll has been horrible - think of every person who has succumbed and how many are directly affected by that one loss. Then factor that by the current estimate of well over 300,000 lost and the picture is terrible.
Follow that with the effects of the economic tsunami, job losses, businesses lost, the inability of so many to provide the basic necessities, the effect on mental health, the list goes on.
Another major socio economic consequence is beginning to play out; that more and more city dwellers are making, or considering making a move to less densely populated areas, namely suburban communities and the rural countryside, which they see as safer for them and their families.
There are so many benefits to making the switch from living in the smoke, as we called it growing up in central London in the 1970's. Obviously benefit number one is the ability to move around without the constant proximity to other people which one experiences in cities, thereby reducing the risk of catching this, or any other virus. But raising a family with room to move around is healthy in other ways: The mental, physical and social advantages to children and adults is immeasurable. I remember when, as a kid in London literally kicking a football (aka soccer ball) around in the street, dodging cars and trucks, my brother was hit by a speeding car. Fortunately there was no lasting injury, but it could have been far worse.
According to new data from Harris poll described recently in USA Today, almost a third of Americans are considering a move to a less densely populated area, "foreshadowing a shift that would have a major impact on residential real estate sales and home prices".
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, predicts that “People will be much more cautious about living in high-density areas with so many people nearby”.
Business Insider writes that millenials are less willing now to gamble on urban real estate, and now that we are seeing a major shift to working from home, as long as there's a good internet connection, the need to be physically close to 'the office' is fast becoming less of a priority than pre-COVID.
Politico warns that "It’s now obvious, if it weren’t before, that staying in big cities can be bad for your health". With 60% of the world's population living in cities, that makes for an alarming potential number of people who may make the transition away from urban areas.
All in all, it seems clear that we may be in for a rush, once things open up, to find properties with ample space for urbanites to find their new Zen. Yet history is filled with events which forced populations to leave major conurbations only to see the balance restored in the years and decades that followed. It seems to me that the ebb and flow will likely continue to ensure that ultimately, the human spirit will endure, and mankind will live where it wants to.
Peter writes for his local magazine, Country Zest & Style, as its Wine Editor. He also enjoys writing blogs on interesting and pertinent real estate matters, so please follow!