In 2020, moving became a reality for millions of Americans. Some moved close to their families, while others pursued pre-pandemic dreams and moved to distant places for better lifestyles and a cheaper cost of living. Nicole Xu hiding caption for NPR
Nicole Xu for NPR
Nicole Xu for NPR
City life in Chicago suited Anna Johnson, who lived downtown for about 10 years and worked as a digital producer for an advertising agency. But as the pandemic dragged on for a few weeks and the dazzling city closed its doors, independent living became too quiet.
“I felt very lonely in my apartment and just felt trapped,” says Johnson.
She decided in June to move back in with her parents, who live about two hours from Rockford town. Ill. Johnson says the move has been both mentally and financially good for her.
In the early days of the pandemic, many people fled overcrowded homes in crowded cities to breezy suburbs and more open areas to escape the deadly disease. And when remote working became an option for many, people suddenly felt they had more freedom to choose where they lived and no longer had to be tied to where their employers were.
And so, 2020 made moving a reality for millions of Americans. Some, like Johnson, moved in with their parents to be close to their families and even to save rent. For others, it eventually gave them the excuse to pay serious attention to pre-pandemic pipe dreams, such as moving to distant locations across the country for better lifestyles and a cheaper cost of living.
In fact, 33% of people who moved during the pandemic did so for financial reasons a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.
“A third of adults told us that money problems, including losing their jobs, were the main reason they moved because of the virus,” says D’Vera Cohn, senior writer and editor at Pew Research Center.
The movements have been most dramatic in the largest, most expensive, and most densely populated cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
An analysis of the U.S. Postal Service’s address change data from February to July last year found that moves from the Manhattan and Brooklyn boroughs of New York City increased five-fold. Overall, requests for temporary change of address in the country increased by almost 27% over this period MYMOVEwho analyzed the data.
There are expectations that these steps could continue. Real estate agency Redfin in a recently found survey that a third of buyers and sellers would consider moving to another city or area if remote work becomes permanent.
Some people are already thousands of miles away. Chandra Prater, a home mom, and her husband had talked for years about leaving Los Angeles, where they lived with their child and pets.
The pandemic hit her 10-year-old daughter particularly hard. The sudden adjustment of being home all the time made her feel isolated.
“She became so depressed that she would neither eat nor get up,” says Prater. “No 10 year old should live like this. It was completely heartbreaking.”
Her husband, who works in information technology, started working from home in March last year. Moving from Los Angeles was already on her mind, and the stifling heat of summer had begun to weigh on her.
But the couple didn’t really think about it until his company said he probably would never have to be in the office as much as he did before. That took the pressure off and made the decision to move easier. So Prater, her husband, her daughter, five cats and her duck packed up and moved to Olympia, Wash.
Prater’s daughter and her duck love the rain until now. “She loves being in nature. When we moved here, it was the first time we went out in stretch pants and a T-shirt to play in the rain,” says Prater, noting that her daughter is happier.