City Mouse, Country Mouse
Popular media would have us believe people left in droves from their complicated big city lives to small town simplicity. Fleeing the restrictions imposed by “those in charge” of the pandemic response, one imagined a mass exodus from cities across the nation to quaint cocoons of small-town life, blessed with open space and salubrious living. Interestingly, data suggests that people moved, but not permanently, or not in the numbers imagined. Industry magazines cite “the long-standing trend of people moving out of the expensive, high-tax states to lower price, lower-tax states.” This was certainly evident in New York County which covers Manhattan. Data showed a significant number of New Yorkers moving to the New Jersey suburbs or to the sunnier state of Florida fueled by PCR- Pandemic Controlled Retirement (those forced to retire due to Covid policies and restrictions) or just a good ole quest for an easier lifestyle and lower taxes. In the words of my children in reference to deep philosophical meaning, “no duh”.
So what are we to glean from this? According to USPS data, 2018 and 2019 saw 2–3 million temporary moves and 31–33 million permanent moves (including individual, family, and businesses). Despite spikes, moves have remained within this typical range since the start of the pandemic, so nothing really to note as significant. Those that had jobs that could be done anywhere benefitted. Customer service representative taking calls and logging data in a cramped downtown apartment or sitting on the pier overlooking the water? Cold calling for sales appointments from your bedroom or on the beach? Maybe you’re snowed in helping customers in Chicago but would rather be ready to clock out and ski down the slopes of Vail or Breckenridge. Individuals and even families who had the freedom to change locations during the work at home orders made geographical upgrades to suit them. Janitorial services to clean spaces? Hostessing and food service? Mechanics and Technicians? Salons and Spas? Employment in these industries weren’t so lucky.
A Pew survey in October 2021 found that “pandemic movers” relocated temporarily and eventually moved back to the home they had occupied before. Interesting. Sounds like everyone trying to make the best of their personal situations and keeping it fluid. At AKB, we completed more projects during the pandemic than in any of our last 15+ years of business including many transplants to our area. Central Kentucky is a pretty good place to live.