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Rents are dropping across the US (cnn.com)
247 points by xbmcuser 19 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 383 comments

"across the US" as in "in expensive coastal cities."

I don't know the broader trend but, anecdotally, I know people who have/are in the process of moving out of cities for more rural locations. One couple I know just moved out of a major Northeast city to the coast of Maine. Others are seriously considering vacating NYC etc.

With many tech industry jobs mostly WFH until the end of the year and the future in general uncertain, a lot of people, especially those with leases coming up for renewal, are thinking this is a good time to make a move.

ADDED: I suppose this is good news for people looking for cheaper city housing prices. Maybe not so good for those who were especially attached to either the vibrant city life or busy office life.

> Maybe not so good for those who were especially attached to either the vibrant city life or busy office life.

I don't understand this reasoning. Was city life not vibrant when rents were 1/3rd the price?

If anything, "hypergentrification" tends to have a sterilizing effect on city life.

To be honest I'm kinda looking forward to it. Nothing against HENRYs (High earners, not rich yet)... but their "cultural tastes" are both expensive and not for everyone.

Yes, I've been thinking of this the same way. As someone who plans to stay in NYC, I'm looking forward to a time when WFH is more normalized and people who live in cities are people who want to live in cities, not people who need to live in cities. It could be win-win for both types.

> people who live in cities are people who want to live in cities, not people who need to live in cities

I'm not under the impression that the droves of techies riding free company shuttle buses from SF to Silicon Valley want to live outside of the city.

Maybe that's a uniquely SF thing, as I believe Silicon Valley still employs more tech people than SF, despite SF becoming a tech hub itself post-mobile. People don't live in downtown SF because they need to, they already live there because they want to.

People tend to leave expensive cities to start families.

> People don't live in downtown SF because they need to, they already live there because they want to.

Maybe downtown SF is just the lesser of two evils between SF and SV because of job location. Maybe they really want to be with their extended family in a suburb of Cleveland.

> Maybe they really want to be with their extended family in a suburb of Cleveland.

This especially made me laugh because the VP of Eng at one of my Silicon Valley startups was from Cleveland and would often joke "I escaped a prison sentence by leaving Cleveland" and "The place is so polluted the river caught on fire, TWICE!".

That fire was in 1969. This is kind of like moving to SF because it used to have hippies.

I've been to Cleveland and it's actually a pretty solid place to live. I would argue you could have a far better life there with a $50k house than slavishly working for the rest of your life for a multi-million dollar tiny home in a giant sprawled out suburb.

FWIW I never met a single person in the bay area that didn't want to live basically anywhere else, but couldn't because of work (and access to work). I'm sure they're there but I never met them. Networking is going to be terrible during COVID too, which is arguably the best thing about being down there for a startup anyways.

I just think people are going to be amazed at how much that place hollows out as more tech companies decide to permanently go remote. I loved the weather, but I also like not having to work as much to put a roof over my head. I'm sure that resonates with a lot of other people too, that don't think retiring early surrounded by friends and family is a prison sentence.

Even before the original dot-com boom and bust in 2001, San Francisco was seen as a desirable place to live for non-tech reasons. The tech boom drove out anyone and everyone that couldn't afford it, and even those that managed be in rent-controlled apartments found themselves priced out as neighborhoods gentrified and food prices increased far in excess of inflation.

I'm really hopeful that remote work becomes widely accepted so that everyone gets more of what they want. That those who don't want to live in a city are no longer forced to and for those that want to live in a city, it becomes more affordable.

The most recent tech boom finally managed to get some construction going on in SF, but in a city where living rooms were converted into bedrooms and wildly successful 20-somethings having roommates, it's going to have to fall a long way before the city is affordable again on minimum wage.

> FWIW I never met a single person in the bay area that didn't want to live basically anywhere else, ...

All this says is you live in a bubble. I know many people who would love to live here but can't afford to do so. I also live here and the only reason I'm considering leaving is the expense. I imagine most people who own a home here don't stay here because they hate it. They could sell their homes and probably retire early anywhere else. FWIW I'm not from here. The only people who want to live "anywhere else" aren't from here and are only here for the money. Those people will leave, sure. But then again, maybe not, when they see that employees here make more than they do in Cleveland.

> I'm sure that resonates with a lot of other people too, that don't think retiring early surrounded by friends and family is a prison sentence.

I think you're vastly underestimating the number of people that are from here that want to stay here. I've got many, many friends that have left the area simply because they can't afford it.

It's going to be decades before the bay "empties out", because as soon as that starts happening, those people living six adults to a three-bedroom home are going to start spreading out and the people that left against their will are going to come back. And there is still going to be an absurd amount of money here, even it gets spread around some.

And as much as companies may start to allow remote work (not at all a forgone conclusion in my mind, although the $$ seems right), there are still going to be competitive advantages to employees and founders who decide to live here.

After the 2008 housing recession, the price of homes in suburban Cleveland dropped to some of the lowest levels in the country. You'd likely pay more for a new car than buying an entire house, after incentives like the first-time homebuyer's credit. The locally famous Cleveland Tourism video[0] said that you could buy a house for the price of a VCR and it's not too far off.

[0] https://youtu.be/oZzgAjjuqZM

According to the 2010 Census Cleveland lost 17.1% of its population at that time.

Even today the city is a third of the population it was 60 years ago.

I do understand the attraction of parts of SF, Marin, the Santa Cruz mountains, etc. But not so much the Valley. And of course the places I just named are eye-wateringly expensive relative to other very attractive/relatively expensive places in the country that are also very attractive in terms of outdoor recreational activities and other such benefits.

The weather is nice year round, lots a hiking nearby, beach is 40 min drive and easier commute to work while still being able to visit the city at night or weekends when you want. Good public schools if you live in the right areas. My personal favorite is the lack of mosquitos. I've lived in the midwest, south, new england and in Europe and never even considered there could be a place with such pleasant weather and no mosquitos. It does get chilly in the evenings though.

Having spent quite a bit of time in the Santa Cruz mountains, Big Basin SP, Pescadero/Butano SP, and Portola Redwoods SP areas, the no mosquitoes thing is a bit optimistic.

Sure it's not as bad as say, northern Minnesota, but once you get away from the ocean and desert areas, if there's standing freshwater around there can be plenty of mosquitoes. The last time I camped in Big Basin everyone was running through clouds of them to/from the restrooms.

But yeah, in the cities like SF and LA, there aren't very many. The city would spray for mosquitoes at night when I lived in San Mateo, which surprised me coming from the midwest and not expecting Californians to be ok with such chemicals sprayed throughout their neighborhoods while they slept.

In my part of Marin County, they use a bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis, to control the mosquitoes. There are enough mosquitoes so that you'll get bit if sit in one spot long enough, but I don't recall ever getting bit while walking.

That is a ridiculously out of touch thing to say (reminds me of something Mitt Romney might have blurted out). Cleveland is a fine place to live.

Wouldn’t the lesser of two evils in that case be somewhere around San Mateo? You’re roughly equidistant, IIRC, from SV and downtown SF there, the only geographical disadvantage being that you’re effectively cut off from the East Bay. But, for some, that’s not much of a disadvantage at all.

I lived in San Mateo for a few years, right off 92 between 101 and 280 on the top of the hill.

It was an ideal spot for 92/280 access. But while it was equidistant from everything of interest on a map, traffic was often so impossibly bad that everything was equally prohibitively inconvenient to reach. And forget about parking in SF after you've managed to get there, not on any busy night everyone else is out on too.

If you want to access the SF night life regularly, San Mateo isn't really a convenient place for it. Maybe via Caltrain+BART@Millbrae? That wasn't easy from my place, our location was very car-optimized.

I did prefer the San Mateo weather to SF or Berkeley though, even up on the hill we got way less cold damp crap weather ruining our nights out on the deck.

> Maybe via Caltrain+BART@Millbrae? That wasn't easy from my place, our location was very car-optimized.

Why isn’t the train a more attractive option? You’re in one of the very few areas in the US with even one train line, and you still don’t sound like you’re very keen on it.

Surely the train is a fine option from San Mateo right into central SF? What’s stopping you?

The Caltrain only goes to the very eastern edge of SF. BART has more coverage, but it's full of drug addicts and none of the stations in the city have working bathrooms.

Too many reasons to write here, I already said our location was very car-optimized which alone is enough for me.

Caltrain summary:

- no wifi

- relatively expensive for a return trip

- 4th and King terminal is nowhere. You still have to get to FiDi or somewhere

- runs hourly after a certain time, ending at midnite (pre-corona.)

- if you forget/can't prove you paid, $200+fine and interrogation

There is garage parking downtown after 6 pm, but that's $20+.

> - if you forget/can't prove you paid, $200+fine and interrogation

This happened to me the first time I took BART to Millbrae from the Glen Park station. I did some transfer that I mistakenly thought was covered by my ticket but apparently wasn't. Was treated like a scumbag criminal by a BART cop on a power trip getting in my face and shoving me around, ended up with a stiff fine to boot.

I mentioned it because it's a big deal if you're an engineer, give the "wrong" answer, and events escalate.

I've had nothing but problems with Clipper cards and tagging on and off the Caltrain.

Considering how many techies put up with 2-3 hours of commuting per day, just to live in SF, I don’t think many will be leaving.

Single techies live in SF because they want to get laid, and that won't happen on the peninsula.

Brutal commute, though.

Get laid?! Wasn't the Bay area the worst place for dating for straight males?

It's pretty bad, but SF vs. Man Jose there's no contest.

Maybe this sounds strange, but I think there is also a category of people who prefer suburbs or exurbs and are really bitter that the pendulum has swung back to cities in the last ~20 years.

They are really eager to see a trend out of small amounts of data. Or proclaim urban life dead, now and forever.

I personally feel strongly in the other direction. We had the infamous "white flight" and car-centric communities and life. We had the peak of urban crime in the 80s and 90s. Then we had a reversal of those trends. Yes gentrification is tough on many, yes the costs are out of control for many, but on the balance I think denser living is the right call.

> Maybe this sounds strange, but I think there is also a category of people who prefer suburbs or exurbs and are really bitter that the pendulum has swung back to cities in the last ~20 years.

Yeah, that would be me. Paying a King's ransom to rent a hovel in an urban desert isn't my idea of fun. It would probably be OK if I did 100% of my work on a laptop, but with hobbies / side-hustles that involve physical equipment and space, an apartment isn't just dismal, it's stifling. Renting tools is like renting an apartment: high cost, low quality.

I'm counting the days until I can escape.

This hits a nerve for me, too. I didn't particularly mind or even notice the constraints when I was renting closer to the city. But for the equivalent rent and at the cost of a longer commute, I traded up to renting a house in the suburbs a few years ago.

It's been so freeing. If I'm working on something late or at odd hours, I don't have even have to think about the the noise impact on my neighbors[1]. Same with music - if I want to enjoy it, I just can. Simple as that; no more mental triage list of precisely where I listen to it so as to have the least impact on the inhabitants of any adjoining units, scrambling if the song changes to one with far more bass and I need to suddenly adjust things, or copping out of those mental gymnastics by settling with headphones after having already had them on for most of the day at work.

I've also got similar hobbies/interests/side-hustles as you, that involve accumulation and use of physical equipment and tooling. I've been able to really dive into those areas far more since I don't have to be hyper aware of spacial efficiency. Without even being fully cognizant of it, I had spent years minimizing how much attention I gave to those areas of interests while maximizing towards things that either had minimal physical prerequisites or leveraged things that both wouldn't cause a disturbance to the others living adjacent to me while also being multi-purpose enough to justify making space for it.

Before moving, it didn't really both me as I wasn't particularly cognizant of the many mental micro-checks I had accumulated organically over the years to ensure my behavior aligned with the noise, space, and practicality constraints of urban living. But now that I've been able to let those go, there's no way I could go back unless I somehow hit it big and suddenly become able to afford the astronomical price of urban living with the suburban luxuries of space and isolation. Anything short of that would now just leave me feeling constantly stifled and constrained at home.

[1] My neighborhood is packed in pretty tightly on small lots, so still have to be somewhat conscientious of noise impact on neighbors. But sound is sufficiently buffered that I can do pretty much whatever I like whenever I like without having to even think about whether doing so would disturb the neighbors. It's worlds apart from urban living, where SFHs are rare and you're more than likely to have at least one adjoining wall with a neighbor, and potentially have five "outer" walls all adjoining different neighbors.

>I personally feel strongly in the other direction. We had the infamous "white flight" and car-centric communities and life.

Getting out of car-centrism doesn't require everyone to live in large cities. Small cities with good design can be more than enough. Living in a dense arrangement might be more tolerable for many people in a small city where the countryside is more accessible.

Thank you, that's an excellent point. We (meaning often times me) have a tendency to think about the extremes as on/off. I have personally passed through a lot of pleasant, walkable small towns in the US, mostly they were laid out in the 19th century and often along a train line or river.

Kids change mindset.

Kids love yards. They love the little creek that runs past.

I love the safety. Small neighborhood, we all know each other and look out for the kids that run around playing.

I bought into this mindset, and regret it. That's what you do when you have kids, move to the 'burbs, right?

We moved from a big city to suburban hell a few years after having a kid. In those first years, we took our kid to museums, parks, playgrounds, etc. all over the city. Now there is jack shit to do in the suburb we're in except going to the mall, cannot walk anywhere, have to use the car 100% of the time to even go to a shop. A backyard is a sad place compared to something like Central Park. I feel so sad for my kid. If the prices keep going lower in cities and remote work becomes the norm, we're moving back. (Un)fortunately my wife hates it here too, and we've often talked about moving back to a city.

I think walkable towns (as opposed to sprawling suburbs) offer a better balance. We moved from SF to Albany/Berkeley with a 1 year old and it feels like the best of both worlds. There’s a lot to do and see, great parks, interesting culture, it’s very walkable, and you can have a yard/garden, friendly neighbors, kids playing in the streets, etc.

Downsides are that it’s almost as expensive as the city (you can get a bit more space for your money, but not a lot more) and closer proximity to “urban” issues like grit, crime, homelessness, traffic that you can be more insulated from in the sprawl.

I agree. Albany, El Cerrito, select parts of Richmond, and most of Berkeley are fabulous. I looked at an apartment recently with my gf in Berkeley that would have cut my commute in half. We didn’t take it because it was too small for us and our pets, but, damn, did we try to talk ourselves into it for a bit.

C'mon over to Rockridge or Elmwood -- especially if you're thinking of having kids!

I did live in Rockridge briefly, and it was nice.

Maybe you just chose a bad suburb (and maybe the city haters chose a bad part of the city or a bad city)

I grew up in the suburbs. I loved we had a 2 car garage with tools. My dad had a radial saw and built all kinds of stuff. We ran a neighborhood haunted house in it. We also had a pool in the backyard, all our friends came over often. We had a 20x30ft family room that was build to be sound proof so my dad could practice drum playing. It was at the far opposite side of the house from my parents bedroom and they let us use it for slumber parties often. There was a collection of hobby stores a few minutes away by bike. One neighbor had a small farm in his backyard with 4 fruit trees and various stuff in between. I loved all the neighbors. One had a go-kart that we would ride from time to time. My parents entertained often including an 80person new years eve party every other year. Could walk or ride our bikes to school where we launched model rockets and watched people fly radio controlled gliders.

That said I'm not dissing the city. I can't really imagine what its like to be in NYC as a kid but many European cities seem like great places for both adults and kids.

Riding a bike/scooter in the cul de sac, playing in the woods, driving over to the town square and wandering around for a while. There's tons of things to do in the suburbs. There's tons of things to do in the city. Really, it depends what you like.

Personally, I prefer to take my car to the shop because I don't want to carry a car load of stuff home. And Central Park is something I like to visit, but I wouldn't send a young child to play there by themselves.

"The suburbs" is such a broad category that it's practically useless. Houston suburbs, for instance, are vastly different than Chicago suburbs in terms of walkability, character, and access to nature. Even suburbs in the same metro are vastly different in experience.

With you on this. There was never a lack of things to do in new York and with a tiny apartment little incentive to stay home.

Back in the suburbs now and the kid would spend his Saturdays watching TV if I didn't stop him because the alternative is ... the one playground in driving distance? The movies? Target?

People really underestimate the volume of activity you can put in front of a young kid in a city.

Some things I’ve observed about families I know who seem to have suburban life figured out:

- regular (meaning periodic) physical activity is essential, for the adults and kids. Sports leagues, gym classes, whatever. If you’re not into sportsy physical activity, you need a physical hobby like woodworking, gardening, or literally anything to get your blood flowing

- your weekly schedule looks totally different as the seasons change. Skiing in winter, hiking and camping in the fall, beach vacationing in the summer, etc

- regular domestic vacations to escape the boredom, and to make you long for home.

- regular home improvement, to make your life in your house 1% better every month

- regular visits with nearby close friends and family. At least one visit to a close relation every two weeks. Non negotiable, and ideally tied to holidays

- overdo your holidays. Birthdays are huge, winter holiday (Christmas etc) is huge. Thanksgiving is huge. It has nothing to do with the meaning of the holiday and everything to do with getting people together.

These kinds of things are less achievable in the city because you have less money, less space, less autonomy. Just my observations from happy suburban families, I’m curious to see others’ notes.

What you've described sounds pretty suffocating to a kid. Growing up in the city my parents didn't have to force me to do a bunch of mundane bullshit, there was so much to do I was able to find cool stuff on my own.

I mean yeah, if you force your kids to do this stuff they’re going to hate it? I think you might be discounting the fact that many kids love to do these kinds of things, and also the role the kids play in deciding what to do.

The idea is to expose your kids to a wide range of activities, and support them doubling down on an evolving handful of them. Avoid setting super specific constraints (you must play a team sport), and instead try setting goals (find a physical activity you enjoy and find motivating). From my perspective, parenting is about exposing children to their options, and making some choice recommendations where you have experience.

Parents can do that anywhere, and fail to do that anywhere. I do agree that if your parents aren’t doing a good job of that in a walkable city, kids are more likely to discover those options on their own.

I do all of these things living in a city

Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that they couldn't be done in a city. Depending on the city, you might even have better access to these activities (cooking classes, culture tours, etc.). However, these activities are invariably more expensive in urban environments, because you're competing with a higher volume of people for a small amount of space. And, where there are usually cheaper alternatives in the suburbs, there are typically no alternatives in the city.

For example, imagine that your kid wants to pursue rock climbing or small boat sailing, and your family lives in NYC. Or, you want to have a holiday gathering of 20+ people. The options exist but they're exorbitantly expensive.

For what it's worth plenty of kids get into rock climbing in nyc. There is a relatively high density of high quality gyms and nyc is 2 hours from one of the best climbing destinations in the country (in my admittedly biased opinion).

I was able to start a sailing team at my city high school because the park district gave us free boat and coaching time. They also had extremely cheap classes that anyone can take.

One thing that will keep me from living in the city for the rest of my life is how much I enjoy having private outdoor space. Being outside by myself is one of my favorite feelings in the world.

>I bought into this mindset, and regret it.

I feel you. We did the same, but that's because our son has ADHD and public or private schools in the city weren't cutting the mustard. We all miss the city and our friends there, and I miss walking everywhere. It was an awesome place to raise a child, but circumstances forced our hand.

Suburbs suck, mind-numbing pits, I don't know why people with families love them. I think they all secretly hate them, it's just that they want you to share their misery by convincing you to move.

> mind-numbing pits

What's so bad about a nice suburb? By nice, I mean "with parks, and nearby mountains, and community centers", not just cookiecutter crap from horizon to horizon.

Sure, there's no live jazz around, but it's not like the city is so far away that I can't go and get some of that when I want it, and meanwhile I can leave my kid's bike on the lawn overnight and it'll be there in the morning.

My definition of suburbia is the endless rows of cookie-cutter houses within gated communities, where the closest grocery store is 5 mi away and the eating options are TGIF or Ruby Tuesday. What you describe is where I live, its 15 min from downtown and I've great parks nearby, lots of mom and pop restaurants, hiking and biking trails.

You understand why those suburbs were created, right? It's not because people don't want to live in the city close to everything, it's because the city core has decayed and become a criminal hellhole, where the nice areas are unaffordable and the affordable areas are not safe to raise a family in.

Autonomous Zones are only going to make this worse.

You are talking like either the movie RoboCop or as if the 1980s crack epidemic were still in swing. A lot has changed since violent crime started declining rapidly in the mid 90s.

I'd point out that there are plenty of areas that are neither urban or classic suburbia. But I'm guessing you don't like more rural areas either.

I don't think I could live permanently in a rural area, but I would love to have a place where I could go down once every couple of weeks, with a big backyard, am sure my kids would love it.

I loved seeing 10 year old kids riding their bikes around the parks of Stockholm after dark in the summertime. Hell, I see the same thing in the recently-fixed Snow Park in Oakland.

There's no natural law that says kids can't play safely in nature in an urban environment. Plus the added benefit of meeting and interacting with other kids from all different walks of life.

We just have to prioritize it - and unfortunately the "got my own piece of nature and I'll drive everywhere else" suburban mindset is part of what forces our cities (and suburbs) to remain dangerous asphalt wastelands.

Our street in North Oakland (Colby St.) is now a "slow street": parents push strollers, kids are learning to bike, teenagers are skateboarding, techies commute to BART on bikes, oldsters walk in the street chatting. Wonderful change!

I'm very excited by the fact that cities around America are slowly waking up to the idea that providing more spaces for cars instead of people makes living in them so much better.

Everyone says this, as if none of us who advocate for urban life understand having kids. I have two kids.

Also, they raise plenty of kids in other countries where they haven't oriented life around suburbs.

Also, this was more true in the United States before white flight, and the US raised plenty of healthy kids then.

So I don't think the kid thing makes as much sense as they say. But the state of US school systems does make the urban kid raising thing needlessly expensive for many.

Violence and distracting behavior in schools are bad. But school scores, prestige, etc. don't matter as much as most people think. Your home environment matters more than the school. High achieving magnets and wealthy suburban schools are that way because of the selection profile for students, not because the school itself is transformative.

Having exposure to high status schools in my own childhood, I agree 100% with your last sentence, that was one of the most important lessons I learned growing up, to completely ignore pedigree. I was in a well regarded school where pretty much everyone was an idiot. But they were born to successful people and most of them are now successful adults. Firm a proof as any that merit is either not the norm or completely doesn't exist.

Still, I think more of an effort should be made to improve US urban public schools. I don't know what the answer is. It's surely very complex. I am not a specialist.

The big difference is in other countries schools are not as bad as they are in cities in the US. Not a lot of countries have this huge divide of urban vs suburban culture. In America, you move to the suburbs to die.

I have a kid. And a cat. My neighbour has two kids and a dog. Their neighbour has a kid. Across the hall from them, two kids. approx 80 sqm apartments each.

I might as well just copy your last paragraph.

Additionally, we love the parks, the playgrounds, the gardens, we walk to childcare, walked to work before this whole pandemic thing. We all have memberships with the museum and the zoo that give us unlimited visits. And since the pandemic, my son often rides in a Thule transport behind my bike. we've got a creek along the bike trail, and one in one of the gardens. we've even got a children's farm down the road.

Culturally many Australians are like Americans: the refrain is "you need to move to suburbia once you've got kids" and "kids need a back yard to run around in" and "you can't raise a kid in an apartment". To the point that half of them never move into the city in the first place or reflexively move out without an actual thought or goal. And it IS frustrating to lose friends (so far everyone I've talked to that has moved out regrets it or at least looks back wistfully) , and knowing that this belief is the viscious circle that stops people improving cities.

But while I will admit that rural areas have something we can't replicate in the inner city (we all have trade offs after all), I WANT my child to have the opportunities afforded in the city and will actively fight the forces trying to set suburbia as a default. judging by the number of childcare centres, prams and scooters showing up in my neighbourhood, we might finally be on the verge of a generation that will try to stay.

the pandemic has changed things, but as I've said to my wife and has been echoed by other posters, maybe this will clear the way for people who want to be here...

Oh man, please allow me to do my best to offer some subjective validation of your life choices.

I grew up in one of the small, very coastal Australian towns that stayed beautiful but got expensive and boring (alternative seems to be: grew big and turned awful, not much middle ground here).

This was a ride your bike to school at 6 years old, spend one third of your life in the ocean, "just try to be home for dinner" town.

Then I spent some time in some of the nicer, central suburbs of a second tier Aussie city.

Then some small, blue collar northern European industry towns, then a major southern European city.

Of those, and given the chance/choice, I'd raise children in the tiny coastal village and the dense European city (within 100m of my apartment - pedestrian streets - there were two small playgrounds, a market, a school, a library, a park, the beach was a 15min walk). Anywhere between those two extremes and adventure turns into a thoroughly planned outing, with a strict time limit on the paid parking if you got lucky and found a spot.

The moderate densities are (or become) sprawling nothings with one coles/woolies/liquorland/bws/bunnings "hub" and long commutes to anywhere. Like you, many of my friends who plan to become young families seem to gravitate towards these starter-package lives, and although I'm probably listening for it, I hear the same regret and resignation from them that you do.

Older relatives live in more expensive versions of the same thing, with a better quality finish on the bathroom and a glass fence on the pool they never use, and an 80k SUV for the just-as-long commute. There might be a flashy bowls club filled with pokies instead of a shitty tavern filled with pokies.

Keep fighting the good fight. We build these 5 bedroom homes in the suburbs so that we're comfortable staying home. Because there's nothing to do outside, because we spent so much energy building nothing suburbs.

The problem with suburbs is they don’t allow kids to get any amount of independence because they must be driven everywhere by their parents. I moved from a US suburb to a small city in Europe when I was 12 and it was liberating. I could suddenly walk or bike downtown alone.

"Suburb" is such a broad term so difficult to compare what it means.

Your description sounds the exact opposite of suburb to my experience.

A suburb area is optimal for young kids as they can go everywhere. Parks, playgrounds, forest trails, movie theaters, everything is within a 10 minute walk or 3-5 minute bike ride. That's what the suburb experience means to me and the life we live right now.

In a city (SF/NYC) I couldn't possibly let my <10yr old go anywhere without extreme supervision given the crime, drugs, abusive cops, prostitution, crazy homeless, etc in every corner.

Actually you possibly could. Just because you think that's what NYC is like doesn't mean it's actually that way. I won't comment on Sf since I've never lived there.

FWIW, I spent my 20s mostly in NYC (although living across the river in NJ) so I'm not unfamiliar with the area. Granted, it's been a while.

Downtown of our small 130k town is a mile walk.

We can walk to many things. We are still considered suburban.

Further out and walking to shops is less plausible. But then you have lots of nature to wak around

It's funny because my first thought was "a mile is around a 20 minute walk; that sounds really nice!" But if you have young kids, a 20 minute walk just to get somewhere can be torture.

suburbs are different then rural? I grew up in a suburb and walked and rode my bike everywhere. ran around the streets with friends and got into plenty of trouble skateboarding around town. population between 20-30k.

Need to make a distinction between car-dependent postwar suburbs and suburbs with train connections to the city. The latter are older and often have walkable neighborhoods.

Many HOAs have rules that require children under the age of 13 to be supervised by an adult when outside the home.

Technically this is policy and not law but you could rack up huge fines if you do not supervise your kids. Often times parents trade off and coordinate but it’s still a hassle.

  Many HOAs have rules that require children under the age of 13 to be supervised by an adult when outside the home.
Not remotely the case in the US. There can be common-area usage restrictions (e.g. pool and spa), but they can't constrain anything done off property.

I see this expressed a lot, but from my personal experience growing up in a small rural community, I always wished I lived in the city.

Maybe it’s just a “grass is always greener” thing, but I always wonder why people assume kids really want the suburban life.

Because it's what is pictured in almost every movie/TV show ?

Crime stuff in cities, nice family comedies in the suburbs.

Yeah, and then you have to drive them to and from school, they have not much to do unless you drive them and one of you two have to stay home due to all that driving.

I spent my entire childhood in the suburbs and literally never was I driven to/from school except for medical/dental appointments. I walked/biked from first grade until I bought my own car. My experience was typical in my peer group.

It is not acceptable nowadays to have your 7 years old to bike to school without adult. People overreact on 10 years old playing outside without adult nearby.

Walking to school requires school/daycare/extracurricular center in walking distance walkable city. The spread in suburbs means that distances are higher then in the city.

Were you a private school kid? School buses or walking were the norm for most people I know who grew up in the suburbs.

It is the experience of parents who complained about that.

I loved living in the city as a kid. Going to the suburbs to see my grandparents always showed me how miserable it was out there. The parks in the city are better, the food and culture is incomparable, and the diversity was incredibly important to who I am today.

You’re spot on about the diversity. I did not grow up in a very diverse place and it’s one thing I feel that I really missed out on.

But parks? In the NYC suburbs (maybe exurbs is more accurate) where I grew up, I had like 5 beautiful state parks within walking distance from my house. I could walk through my friend’s backyard to a pair of beautiful lakes where we could swim, fish, kayak, whatever.

It’s interesting. I’m not trying to be argumentative, but when I go to the city (any American city, at least), I find it to be really dirty, loud, and I find the people to be generally rude. I also don’t like the complete and total lack of outdoor space that isn’t public. Nothing beats a backyard to me.

I live in Chicago which has the entire lakefront as park space and is filled with tons of other parks too. The suburbs are all off the lake so they don't have any beaches. Unfortunately there aren't any national parks or mountains in the midwest so the suburbs don't really have anything that the city doesn't other than some more empty space I guess.

You should check out the forest preserves. The Chicago suburbs really got it right there.

I really enjoy the forest preserve. Love biking the north branch trail. Especially nice how easy it is to get to it by going up Milwaukee.

Yeah until those kids are teenagers and they're bored out of their minds with nothing to do.

Here's the thing about suburbs and exurbs: Even if everyone loved them, the problem is few people can afford to move into them. They discourage construction of rental supply and prefer either single family homes or... higher-end condominiums. So if you want to live in these communities you need to be able and willing to buy property.

People aren't typically at this stage until they're secure in their careers and have partnered up. These days that's people well into their 30s (and maybe 40s).

The notion that a bunch of 28 year old single people making $30,000-$50,000/yr while paying down student loans are going to be rushing out to the suburbs to buy homes[1] because of COVID or "social unrest" seems unlikely.

[1] Which, incidentally, tend to be fairly large since municipalities discourage smaller "starter home" construction.

> Maybe this sounds strange, but I think there is also a category of people who prefer suburbs or exurbs and are really bitter that the pendulum has swung back to cities in the last ~20 years.

What would they be bitter about?

The suburbs of "thriving" cities are "thriving" in basically exactly the same way as the city centers are. Even in the extreme examples like the Bay Area, the crazy SF prices haven't stopped prices in Mountain View from also going nuts.

The Bay Area is a bit of a special case in that a lot of the big tech employers (especially) are in the 'burbs--which, sorry, is what SV is. Yet you don't really escape urban housing pricing anyway.

By contrast, the Boston area for example you can get to significantly cheaper (though not exactly cheap) housing out where a lot of the, especially local, tech employers are. Things have shifted more towards the city in recent years but a lot of tech is still 30-45 minutes outside the city.

What pendulum swing? The suburbs and exurbs aren't emptying out.

Does denser living really matter if most of the business and professional jobs go remote? The traffic in my city (Austin) has plummeted dramatically since before Covid.

I’ve been a remote worker far longer than Covid and live in a dense (for the US) area. For me the density value comes from things that specifically can’t go remote.

Having parks, beaches, produce shops, restaurants, schools and friends in walking distance is the value.

Covid has proven those things can’t be replicated online.

If you have children it's not as if you can move anywhere even if your job allows it. Moving is traumatic for children and the places you can move to are those with adequate schools.

The benefits of remote working are largely lost on those with children.

I have a child. I live where I live specifically for the school and I don’t want to move.

Remote work dramatically increases my opportunities in my current location.

Right remote work can increase opportunities, but I should have said the mobility advantages are mostly lost on families.

I believe there is economic research that says increases in density are correlated with larger increases in productivity.

I also think the environmental cost is lower, for example if you're not burning fossel fuels in single occupant SUVs in order to do everything. My personal experience is also that avoiding that last part is good for your health, physical fitness and stress.

How does the pendulum affect you?

I believe ghaff is referring to COVID effects, not rent. Right now in most cities all bars, restaurants, theaters and nightclubs are closed. If you can only leave your Manhattan apartment to buy food, then you might as well be living in Poughkeepsie, and saving $5k a month in rent.

That and even post-COVID a lot of those bars, restaurants, theaters, and nightclubs may not exist any longer.

Mangattan has been partially a ghosttown even before the COVID pandemic. If you walk around Manhattan, almost half the commercial space is empty, it has been empty for the past few years actually and now getting worse. The bubble is popping

On the other hand it might be a good idea to be on the move and buy/rent something cheap.

Have lived and worked in Manhattan for years, and this is an exaggeration. Retail vacancy rate is more like 12-15% in Manhattan, and lower than that city-wide. It’s a problem, but Manhattan was in no way a “ghost town” with half the stores empty before the pandemic.

In the commercial sense a ghost town compared to 20 years ago when I first moved here. But yes, I think it’s not the right word.

I don’t know any official figure but I’ve seen entire blocks half-occupied or even less than that (storefronts) about half a year ago when I ventured to Manhattan. I was shocked then and imagine it must be worse now. I was reading an article about the real storefront occupancy rate in Manhattan and it is not a known thing. Various realtors have their internal figures but they don’t share it with the world, so any figures may as well be inflated by them. The bubble is wobbly if you ask me

>Was city life not vibrant when rents were 1/3rd the price?

Vibrant may not have been the best choice of words. But there have certainly been periods over the past few decades when life in major cities was more dangerous, grittier, less polished, etc. than it was today. e.g. Bryant Park in the 80s, Some may not consider that a negative.

SF lost 25% of its population (800k to 600k) between 1950 and 1980.

Cities were not very desirable back then.

And Boston was still losing population into the 90s. The last major "tech" employer of the era in the city, Teradyne, finally moved out entirely in the 2000s.

My grad school cohort in the late 80s, many of whom worked for Boston area computer companies or in finance, basically none of them actually lived in the city.

Which plays into a lot of the noise about city housing prices. Basically, the urge among young wealthy urban professionals to live in cities is mostly quite recent.

I always find it interesting how the people who are so strongly against the gentrification caused by the apparently bland and one dimensional tech workers are reluctant to move themselves to cheaper mid-sized cities that ostensibly have more “soul” if that’s what they’re looking for.

Maybe because their life, family and friends are in the cities they're in? You can have attachments to the place you live in and resent gentrification at the same time.

Can you expand the acronym HENRYs? Urban dictionary didn't come up with anything for me.

"High earners, not rich yet (HENRYs) are individuals who currently have significant discretionary income and a strong chance of being wealthy in the future."

The previous (somewhat derogatory) term was "Yuppie" ("young urban professional" or "young, upwardly-mobile professional") [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuppie

I always liked DINK: Double income, no kids.

Well, when two HENRYs love each other very much, they do frequent move in together to become DINKs. ;)

More seriously, DINK seems to be approximately the plural of HENRY in this context.

Except, I think that HENRY implies that they are not willing to adjust their extravagant lifestyle in order to become rich.

As I understand it, HENRY is a term of art in marketing while yuppie is more colloquial.

I am a HENRY but my cultural tastes are low for most of my peers standard. McDonalds I'm lovin' it.

I've never lived in NYC, or made enough to have the option, but my lasting impression from every time I've visited is how easily you can find food that's exponentially better than McDonald's for comparably low prices. Of course, anything tends to be better when there's more traffic/volume and more competition.

Yeah I agree with this . In NYC it’s not even that cheap.

Same, man. I'm HENRY for my age (18), and really enjoy my $500 apartment, while parking an ancient Tesla outside it

Only an 18 year old could consider a Tesla ancient.

My vehicle is 18 years old, so I couldn't figure out if that comment was sarcastic or not.

Shoot I learned to drive on a Ford Bronco that was as old as I was. My friend's mom was still driving an ancient Toyota Tracel until maybe ~3-4 years ago.

Get off my lawn, etc...

Ancient for a Tesla. I had a Prius that was near my age previously.

Besides, in the tech world, JS frameworks become ancient in months.

Again, only an 18 year old.

I wouldn't call teslas ancient by any sort of term. Maybe a car from the mid early 90s now.

I've showed my age.

One day you will appreciate your paycheck. That day is not today.

I very much appreciate it, which is why I cherish its contents. The Tesla ended up being cheaper for my commute than most gas cars, so I at least have an excuse.

What is your images of "hypergentrification"

My experience with any gentrification is a place with almost nothing interesting to do or see gets renewed with new restaurants, bar, venues, etc... so a place that was boring with nothing to do suddenly has new an interesting things to do. Attracting new business brings in other things too like festivals, farmers markets, etc..

That's hardly "... tends to have a sterilizing effect on city life" but maybe you have a different experience.

I think the critique is simply the homogeneity of the people; mostly in terms of temperament. People with stable jobs, working hard, doing white collar things. Having white collar interests. 401Ks, keeping up with the Joneses, what rate did you get for your mortgage as dinner conversation and all that.

It's really not as colourful as the melange of labourers and aspiring artists in multi-ethnic neighbourhoods with historical communities.

These are gross caricatures, but my impression is that's why people don't like gentrification.

Indeed; hard to be vibrant if everyone is nothing but working to cover cost of living.

Not all HENRYs are the same, though many do lead upper middle class lifestyles. Some are frugal, most are not -- as is the general population. I speculate a preference for expensive taste in hobbies is developed before earning potential is realized. Though I'm a HENRY, I'm not into golf, expensive cocktails, etc.

What’s a HENRY?

High Earners, Not Rich Yet

decent salaries but not a lot of accumulated wealth, e.g. stocks, real estate, etc.

> Maybe not so good for those who were especially attached to...the vibrant city life

I think it's good for those people too, because urban housing prices will also go down as people move away. It could become more affordable to have that vibrant city life alongside the others who actually want to be there and don't just have to be there.

I'd personally be really excited to see Austin's skyrocketing growth and gentrification take a hard slowdown. So many of the locals and local businesses that made Austin so charming and "weird" in the first place have been driven out by the swelling cost of living.

Anecdata here. I just rented out my house in Austin last week. We had 14 people vying to sign a lease, and several wanted to bid above the price we are renting for. The real sticker - 10/14 were moving from SF/LA/NY because they can now work from home. Our rent is above market in Austin, but way below what they are used to paying.

All that to say, you may see the opposite of a slowdown.

Wait until the pay cuts for remote workers hit.

Not to mention the crunch when only ~5% more jobs go full remote in the next few years instead of the "anticipated" 40%.

  moving from SF/LA/NY
I bet state and city Income tax was a factor.


Change is inevitable. What's awesome now might be crap in the future and today's garbage might be the future's treasure.

My point was that a lot of those trendy bars, restaurants, etc. may no longer exist if a lot of people who can afford to move away. A lot of the elements of city life in say NYC or Boston in the 1990s were a lot different from today.

But, to your point, yeah a return to a more gritty and bohemian version of urban life would be appealing to some.

Personally I miss the dives, the open mic nights, the hole-in-the-wall restaurants that have been slowly getting replaced with gleaming Ikea-fever-dream "fast-casual artisan eateries" and the like.

(If I'm being honest the latter have a certain appeal to me too, but I think it's a travesty when they supplant things that are irreplaceably more human)

LA is actually good for this, because despite a few rich neighborhoods, it’s primarily an immigrant and working class city.

I grew up in the Midwest, which people romanticize as the real America, small town life, etc. But now it’s mostly strip malls, chain stores, and deranged, adversarial politics. In LA, by contrast, I could find a small, locally-owned business for just about any service or need and people were friendly and accepting of everyone.

If you can separate yourself out from the Hollywood BS and gentrified neighborhoods, it’s really a great place.

The old guard of restaurants in LA haven't really been touched by the new wave of gentrification. Tito's, Phillipe's, The Pantry, etc.. All packed every night, and haven't changed a thing in decades. (I guess Tito's finally accepts credit cards, so some change is ok...)

I flew into LA late one night for an interview, and decided to get a burger at the Pantry. I felt sick from the gutbuster all the way through the interview the next day and didn't get the job.

Live and learn.

This is what most people are referring to when they say “cosmopolitan.”

Where you have the perfect stew composed of a high mixture of all walks of life, from economic background, educational background, ethnic background, cultural background, etc..., and until someone figures out how to combat the change, it always seems to be overrun by gentrification.

I’ve seen a few higher reaching accounts over the past couple of years saying, “When you make improvements to your community, always be aware the actions you take may attract gentrification which will decimate the community you’re trying to build and price you out in the process. You could be improving yourself right out of your house or business. Build that community but beware of gentrification.”

I’ve seen gentrification happen in a couple of places, but one of the most stark examples has to have been Portland, OR.

I know multiple people who have moved from California to Portland like 4 years ago. When visiting, they raved about how amazing all of the small little shops were, how green everything was, all of the amazing little restaurants, how many people walk/biked everywhere, the lack pretentiousness, how everyone preferred dive bars, etc...

Many of those same people who have moved here now variously complain about the people who walk/bike, drive or take ubers the mile or so to work, complain about the lack of parking, don’t shop at any of the little stores, drive 15 minutes out of the city to shop at big box stores, and seem enraged they cant find clubs that only allow in “beautiful people.”

I know Portland isn’t the only place to experience this and to be clear, I’m not trying to shame them, but I’ll never understand how someone can like a place so much, they go out of their way to hunt for a new job, pick up and move to an entirely new city, and then complain or refuse to do the things which it takes to maintain that which made you fall in love with a place.

I think many of the people which cause gentrification, they see the cosmopolitan nature of a place, love it, and then want to make it exactly like the place they left.

Prior to coming back to Portland, I lived on a Caribbean island for a couple years for a work project, and I saw first hand how adamant they are at pushing back against newcomers trying to change the culture which make the place so beautiful in the first place. I think they understand on a gut level how attempts to make something more like some other place has ripple effects and those usually lead to economics which price out the good stuff.

The worst part is, when we see a place that has a vibrant community, with open mic nights, and cute little shops with locals who own the shops etc..., those communities spent decades making their own little spaces in their image and people move in and just don’t adapt.

I mean some people just prefer living a suburban existence, and that’s OK. Plenty of people are proud to be rural, plenty of people who are proud to be cosmopolitan, why not just be proud to prefer suburbs. We all have different preferences, we don’t need to force cosmopolitan areas to lose all resemblance of itself when there’s already a place tailor made for people who prefer strip malls where parking lots seem to always be 90% unoccupied.

Sorry for the ramble, I’ve just seen gentrification decimate cosmopolitan communities that spent decades building them up and force lifetime old residents and businesses out time and time again, only for the new residents to complain about the very cosmopolitanism they loved in the first place and before ya know it, its looks shockingly like the suburb which is a mere minutes away.

Gentrification happens because a demand boom hits a supply shock. If the supply shocks don't happen, the price doesn't change and people don't have a reason to move out in the first place.

But another thing to keep in mind is that things change constantly. The reason why a cute cultural enclave is not anymore might of been because of a disaster back at the home country isn't happening anymore and the second generation kids are all now doctors and engineers now.

The opposite of gentrification can happen too (ex detroit), and TBH it's even worse. The only thing that you can guarantee is that the city and culture you grew up with will not be the same city 10 or 50 years later in many ways.

If you've read Heather Marsh this observation maps well to her writing on endogroups [0]: cosmopolitan life is exosocial, with many permeable boundaries. This attracts everyone, which means it attracts endoselves too. They walk into the space and start remaking it around them, and pretty soon the cosmopolitan life stops, replaced with reenforcement of some endogroup dynamic, which is of course bland and sterile.

The power of the big city - and why it's associated with the cosmopolitan - is that it provides a space too large for any endogroup to fully dominate, and an allowance for the exceptional case.

[0] Outlined in detail in The Creation of Me, Them and Us. But briefer versions can be found in her blog: https://georgiebc.wordpress.com/

>I’ll never understand how someone can like a place so much, they go out of their way to hunt for a new job, pick up and move to an entirely new city, and then complain or refuse to do the things which it takes to maintain that which made you fall in love with a place.

Because most people are consumers, not creators, and when an excessive amount of consumers enters a space that previously had a balance between consumers and creators, the prices get bid up and the imbalance results in a situation where people drive 15 minutes to go to the big box store.

The consumers wanted to consume the convenience of the little shops, but not in sufficient quantities to continue to make it a viable business in the face of rising demand from other consumers coming in also to consume the convenience of the little shops. Hence you end up at a new economic equilibrium where the big box stores are the only ones left.

Then, if society is lucky, the intial and boundary conditions will allow for a new place to reach a balance between consumers and creators, and rinse, repeat.

This is also a little bit related to this theory:


If this faux, urban dive, chic finally dies I think we're all better off. My corner bar used to be frequented by construction workers and longshoremen. Then the neighborhood by the port was gentrified. The bar with the $1 draft beers gave way to the $7 IPAs. Finger foods such as tacos and empanadas gave way to $3 tacos and $15 quesadillas! Now I drink and eat at home because all the bars went way upmarket and no way am i paying Disneyland prices in a fucking dive bar.

Just a word of caution as someone who has went from D.C. to small town: It can also be not so good if you come with your previous political beliefs. Big coastal city politics are _very_ unpopular in smaller towns (not here to discuss the merits, just stating the reality). You won't make very many friends. Smaller towns don't have the same issues big cities do, so naturally it will require a different approach and way of thinking.

Maybe just don't lead with "I'm from the big city, hate guns, and love abortion" when introducing yourself to your new neighbors.

Well, no one would actually lead with that, but I've met people in the Bay that have lead with "What are your pronouns?" and "How do you identify?", either of which may make for an awkward (or worse) first impression in a lot of other places.

In much of the country, the first question you are asked is "What church do you go to?", and responding "I don't" is going to make you a pariah.

Are you sure you have lived in the country? It doesn't make you a pariah, it makes you the target of lots of pamphlets to come to their Church. There are plenty of people who don't go to Church in the country.

And get this, there's bars too!!! With real alcohol!

For people who don't live or haven't been to the bay area recently: Nobody does the 'what are you pronouns?' as a party icebreaker in the average bay area population. The people who do travel in very, very specific social circles.

Agreed. I've seen this in the US and Canada, but in places that were 1) very bourgeoisie, very white, and pseudo-leftist, and 2) near a university of some sort.

Not a thing in the rest of the country, or even in very leftest areas.

I want to refuse to believe that this actually occurs...

I have been to the Bay Area (10 years ago) and didn't have this problem, but going there soon, can I just say 'A copper pipe' or whatnot or that will hurt their sensitive souls?

FFS, just ask who they are, what they like to do and see if there is something in common. This politica bullshit really need to end (it is ok for more close relationships, but if the first question I get is if I am Right or Left, I will just insult he person somehow)

> can I just say 'A copper pipe' or whatnot or that will hurt their sensitive souls?

I believe the common trolling method is to identify as an "apache attach helicopter", pronouns vrrrrr/bang

I’ve never heard anyone say they love abortion. They love the ability for women to have the freedom to choose abortion, and what they want to do with their body. I also prefer “anti choice” for those who oppose others having that freedom.

Probably same effect.

I think the general feeling is, "don't bring your political beliefs with you and create the same mess here that you just left."

That's an important thing to understand and really internalize.

What makes sense in a city context doesn't always make sense in a town context. And what makes sense in a town doesn't always make sense in a city. The difference is huge, to the point that the best approach can be the opposite.

I think this is at the crux of a lot of the country's polarization and inability to understand the other side.

Politics in general is less of a thing in smaller towns. My voting precinct (not even a small town, the suburbs of Annapolis) is roughly 2/3 Trump, 1/3 Clinton. I have no idea who is who, and it’s never come up.

Everyone thinks you live in a small town if you move to the Midwest. I moved to Des Moines and my aunt was talking about how her grandma knew everyone in her town like I could relate to it. The Des Moines metro area has a population of 650k people. And half of those people have trump derangement syndrome just as badly as rich coastal people.

"Expensive" and "coastal" are critical caveats. Looking at the full Zumper report (https://www.zumper.com/blog/rental-price-data/), there are surprisingly high year-over-year increases in a lot of other metro areas: Arizona sees nearly 8% increases in both Scottsdale and Tucson; Austin, TX is up almost 7% while even California has seen sizable increases in its second-tier cities like Sacramento (7%) and Bakersfield (6%).

The CNN story gives the impression that this is a nationwide trend, but it's really isolated to the housing markets that have been the most unaffordable in recent years.

If we only had some kind of technology that could be used to increase the number of housing units on a given parcel of land, we could increase the supply of housing in a given area until it matched the number of people who wanted to live there.

> The CNN story gives the impression that this is a nationwide trend, but it's really isolated to the housing markets that have been the most unaffordable in recent years.

No surprise. Not all places are equally worth living in. As an American living in Canada I think a 2nd tier California city wouldn't be bad. Maybe not Bakersfield, but Sacramento? Sure.

I don't know about rent, but home prices are spiking in the Kansas City metro as people aren't putting their homes on the market because of uncertainty. The demand is far outstripping the supply. People are getting multiple offers at or above list the same day they go to market and with special add-ons like inspection waivers. It's crazy.

Same thing in SoCal. Same exact house model selling for $200,000 higher than a few months back, under contract in 1 day. Demand high, supply very very low.

This is very real; anecdotally, I am considering vacating the Washington D.C. metro area for this exact reason. The biggest difficulty is uncertainty of government roles, e.g. back to work/office, in the future depending on the posture of the administration. The market is booming here and there aren't any slumps in pricing or inventory.

Yeah. I work for a company that's pretty remote-friendly and I've been effectively remote for a while even though I'm officially in an office (though without a desk). So most of us wouldn't really worry too much about moving to a location that wasn't commute-friendly any longer.

But I see concern if you're with someone that hasn't really made any statements or really provided any indications beyond "for the duration of the emergency."

During the housing crisis the exurbs suffered price slumps, but core housing did not. This time the opposite might happen exacerbating DC sprawl. People will work more days remote and housing in Leesburg/Frederick will become more doable/attractive.

Shoot, Stafford and Prince William Counties became same of the wealthiest counties in the US years ago -- top 20 in the whole USA.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest-income_countie...

I think the DC area has often held up if only because of the nature of the federal government shrinking dramatically is a slower / less likely process.

> With many tech industry jobs mostly WFH until the end of the year and the future in general uncertain, a lot of people, especially those with leases coming up for renewal, are thinking this is a good time to make a move.

Once the pandemic ends and employers stop allowing WFH again, there might be a large surge in pricing as suddenly everyone wants to get back into those cities.

The pandemic is here for at least 1-2 years in that time many businesses will have perfected WFH/remotely where possible. So I don't think they will go back to previous way of doing things that easily. Another thing is this pandemic also has shown the risk factor of having most of your workforce in one place/city. So even if businesses don't do wfh they would probably go for more satellite offices in smaller cities.

1-2 years lol

Why are you laughing? I'm crying.

It's a reasonable lower bound - and they did specify "at least"


I’d be willing to bet this breaks down more along partisan lines.

Blue, urban centers will allow WFH for white collar employees, but big corporate places in red and purple states will force people back into the office, even if more get sick and die. This is how the reopenings are already playing out across the country.

> Once the pandemic ends and employers stop allowing WFH again

We don't know how many companies will require on-site presence.

Some might just allow WFH permanently.

E.g. Twitter already announced that, see: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/may/12/twitter-c... .

> Some might just allow WFH permanently.

We've seen this before with companies that created satellite campuses to take advantage of cheaper labor due to cost of living differences.

When problems arise, only those local to the headquarters survive the layoffs.

Then move. Plenty of remote IT jobs available in Mumbai. Work from home is amazing!

Perhaps. Although the sense I get is that a lot more WFH/remote (admittedly not the same thing) is going to be the new normal at a lot of tech companies.

Many companies are announcing it but I don't see a large trend of announcements yet. There will be a growing niche, and maybe the large wave is yet to come, but for now, we haven't reached that state yet you describe.

No. I expect it to be more organic and under the radar. Some percentage of employers and some percentage of employees at those employers. And now you come into the office and only a third of your team is in there on a given day and, at some point, you're "Hey. Is it really worth commuting in for the snacks." And maybe you decide to all come in on a given day. But a couple people move a few hours away...

My point is that norms can shift without big company announcements so long as companies don't actively prevent them.

I do think this is going to become a big deal for people as they consider current and future jobs. It's probably also going to be a big issue for onboarding junior people.

remote work has a self-reinforcing dynamic. the office is not as attractive when half the employees are not around. people get spoiled by having so much more control of their time. Plus the pandemic is dragging too long already and we are still nowhere near next winter's wave.

> With many tech industry jobs mostly WFH until the end of the year and the future in general uncertain, a lot of people, especially those with leases coming up for renewal, are thinking this is a good time to make a move.

I'm not sure I understand this. Tech industry is WFH for now. So you move out to Flyover, USA. Once the COVID-19 crisis is over next year, it's back to business as usual, and your company says, "Well, back to the office, everyone!" Now what? Move again? Do people just love moving or something?

Is the rent difference plus the cost to move all your belongings/vehicles (twice), plus the hassle of changing your kids's schools (twice) and uprooting everything (twice) really worth it?

There have been a handful of companies that have indicated the desire to expand their WFH/remote opportunities long-term, but most of them have given no such guarantee. If you're in Iowa and you get called back to the office, what's your plan?

The tech industry is a lot broader than some high-profile companies that have made public announcements. My circles admittedly include a lot of people who work remotely anyway but my sense is that this shift is going to be fairly broad and sustained for people who can productively work remotely. (That said, I wouldn't literally move without having some discussion and assurances for whatever they're worth.)

There are no guarantees in life of course but I know multiple people moving from cities to more rural environments.

Some people are long on covid and think it'll go on for more than a year. It's a calculated risk. They could very well be stuck in the middle of nowhere with no one wanting to hire remote workers. Or they could be ahead of the curve.

> Maybe not so good for those who were especially attached to either the vibrant city life or busy office life.

Meh, if there's less people living in cities that's cheaper rent for me.

What's interesting is what impact this could have on the carbon footprint. Generally speaking, higher density living is associated with lower carbon footprint per capita.

It is, except there seems to be a sweet spot in medium sized towns where commutes/groceries/activities are all close so no/less driving. If you get too small though you go back to everything being 45 min drive away again like being in the suburbs of a city which is not at all sustainable.

> If you get too small though you go back to everything being 45 min drive away again like being in the suburbs of a city which is not at all sustainable.

This is where I live. I love it. I encourage others to consider it unsustainable.

That's the thing with unsustainability, dude. No individual cares. It's about the aggregate.

I'm aware. Renewables and electric cars are on a tear. Don't force density when you can use technology instead to lower your impact. It's clear the city is too expensive for many, and folks are going to filter out of urban cores until a density equilibrium is reached.

Do you care if I live in the middle of nowhere in the mountains if all of my power is clean solar, our cars are electric, I work from home, and pay for carbon offsets for anything I need shipped to the home (until UPS, Fedex, and USPS electrify)? Personally, I'll pay whatever it costs to not have a neighbor within a 15 minute walk of my property, but still have national parks within a 30 minutes drive.

I don't care because I like to live like that myself for other reasons (city people like authoritarianism too much for me). I don't even care that you live like that now.

That doesn't change the sustainability argument.

We don’t have enough lithium on the planet for everybody to have their own electric car. Just because something is on paper sustainable, doesn’t make it actually sustainable.

Lithium is absurdly abundant. It can be recycled. Lithium concentrations in electrolytes are constantly being lowered. Finally it is possible to manufacture batteries without cobalt. Cobalt is a bigger problem than lithium because most production facilities extract cobalt as a byproduct of other mining activities. Dedicated cobalt mines are possible but it would result in higher costs.

That's wildly incorrect. Proven reserves of lithium only are a few decades of consumption, because why would you keep looking and measuring now when you already have so much available?

Probably because of shortened commutes. But if many commutes disappear altogether, that could offset it.

In many parts of the country, heating plays a large role as well. Heating 100 units in an apartment building is going to be more efficient than heating 100 single family houses.

As the other person said, living spaces generally tend to be larger and less efficient per capita for heating, power, water, etc. Those McMansions with the atriums are an ecological nightmare.

Maybe in the urban core. I have friends who live in "Boston" who are in a rough triangle between Danvers, Providence and Worchester. DC is even more insane.

I live in a very rural valley in North Central Washington State and this is definitely the case. There are only a handful of homes for sales right now and they are going pending sometimes in hours and usually selling in cash. This never used to happen.

I know this may not be the case here, but...

> moved out of a major Northeast city to the coast of Maine

is not necessarily a move that is going to bring a lower rent/mortgage. Coastal Maine can be pricy.

That's fair and the town in question is certainly on the higher end of the price scale. Though, having been involved for unfortunate reasons in Maine coastal property pricing recently, I imagine it's still a lot cheaper than downtown Boston.

People are fleeing unstable liberal cities. No surprise.

There is no evidence for that. No one is fleeing, but we are at the start of a harsh recession, when seeing rents fall isn’t weird at all

People are doing more than that. A former colleague caught folks working remote overseas as well.

What do you mean “caught”? Is there a stipulation on time zone or country? Truly don’t see the problem of bopping off to another country as long as you’re still doing your work and active in the team?

Businesses don't like to be suddenly subject to some random localities laws, especially not if that means they're accidentally in violation (eg, not paying income tax to the correct authority, having employees perform work on the wrong visa or without a permit, etc).

There's usually tax implications for working for an extended period of time in another country. As a result, big companies may require employees moving to a new country to negotiate a new job offer for a regional office and smaller companies might not be able to handle the tax laws at all.

Some industries may also run into legal issues if an employee working in another country has to access data that is not allowed to cross country lines.

There are many scenarios where compliance or other requirements require data to be resident in a particular locale, or specific controls. Some companies even provide loaner devices if you cross a customs boundary.

Also HR issues. If you're working in France for a US company, are you subject to French employment law?

Yes many companies have rules about which countries their employees are allowed to work in. Some countries are deemed High Risk (hard to extradite for one example).

This happened to someone a few years back at my current employer. There are pretty much always tax implications that the company will be required to deal with, and there are sometimes other legal issues.

Or the employee is violating the terms of the visa under which they're in that country.

anecdotally, in LA, house rents seem to be going up while apartment rents are fluttering down, depending on locality.

rather than moving out of the urban areas, folks seem to be looking for a little more separation from strangers, possibly also more WFH space.

Similar in SF.

Rents for SFH seem about the same as per-COVID, while apartments are dropping.

If I were a renter right now and in an urban area with a lease renewal coming due, I'd 1000% call the mgmt co's bluff.

Context: my firm provides back office services to 50k+ rental units across the nation and unless you're in some oddly hot market, most mgmt companies currently are holding their breath that their renters don't say anything and renew at the same price.

If you're reasonable, you can easily negotiate a price drop and the mgmt co will most likely accept it begrudgingly because they do not have the data to call YOUR bluff. every mgmt co right now is taking whatever they can get and locking it down for as long as they can.

happy to respond to individual folks questions but keep in mind that any advice I may provide is not legal nor financial and I guess I should say my posts/comments are my own and do not represent my company's. =)

We just canceled our lease two weeks ago. We had a large apartment in one of the new high-rises in Downtown LA.

The last offer was 3 months free and 2 parking spaces free if we stay for 12 month lease, which comes to 34% discount on the rent including parking.

Other buildings are offering by default two months rent-free and they will pay the movers if you decide to move in.

DTLA is a special place as it has plenty of new supply, but I can imagine that it's not too different in other places across LA.

> The last offer was 3 months free and 2 parking spaces free if we stay for 12 month lease, which comes to 34% discount on the rent including parking.

Someone should make a website to share offers that they received like this. It would be super helpful to better understand your local market and negotiate come renewal time.

Someone should indeed.

For added context and to build off your last point, for years it has been relatively standard for luxury rentals in DTLA to offer somewhere between 4-8 weeks free rent. It might be more appropriate to view this as a single free month with free parking when comparing to other markets.

Thank you, that's a good context. In the building where we moved in 3 years ago from SF, they didn't offer any free rent at point as they were completely full.

However, the larger point stand. Most building did offer around a month of free rent to new tenants in last couple of years.

Interesting, I got 4 weeks free when I moved to the area in 2017. Although I am sure there were places that didn't offer that. The closer a place gets to being full, the more important it is to renew leases at the full sticker price rather than reaching 100% occupancy. I know I was able to bargain down my rent during my last lease renewal because the building was still offering free rent to new residents.

We renegotiated 3 times a significant discounts as more supply started seeping in. In our last renewal we got 3 months free and 1 parking spot free.

Whenever we spoke with neighbors they were so thankful that they didn't increase the price that they immediately signed. In fact of the maybe 20 people we spoke over the years, none attempted to renegotiate their lease.

My expectation is as PPP is now running its course a lot of white collar jobs will be terminated which will put pressure on the housing market as whole. I believe we should see a dramatic drop in prices by early next year (nobody really buys/sells during holidays).

How do you renegotiate? It seems like you need to be willing to walk to have any negotiating leverage, and moving is a pain in the ass.

That’s correct. I’m ready to move. I found out that the pain is not as bad as it seems and I actually like moving.

But even if you don’t like it, there is little to be lost. The worst they can do is to say no and then you pay whatever rate they asked for if you decide to stay.

I tend to reside in more expensive buildings so they have harder time finding tenants. That’s why I ask for the costs of finding a new tenant as a discount.

This only works in falling market or in market with plentiful of supply. When we lived in SF we paid what they asked for.

> That’s why I ask for the costs of finding a new tenant as a discount.

Great stuff. Thank you for the reply!

Finding desirable tenants can sometimes be a pain in the ass too. But being willing to walk away is, of course, the best negotiating position.

That's right. I tend to negotiate less on the initial lease and negotiate more on its renewal as we prove that we are a valuable tenant (paying on time, low interaction, ...).

Even when we lived in SF, where negotiations were almost impossible as they would have filled the unit within a week, they still were willing to do something in order to retain us.

absolutely this. whenever our PMs come to us with tenant requests for discounts and we (upper management) take a single look at their ledger of on-time and online payments, we immediately do a back of the napkin calculation of the cost of a turnover vs the discount and even if its in a turnover's favor, we usually say give it to them because of the uncertainty of turnovers.

think of the analogy "even money" in blackjack - when the dealer is showing an Ace but you've got blackjack, most objective people will take the "even money" versus gamble against whether the dealer has BJ or not. also why you tend to not split tens unless you're counting =p

I'm guessing the freebies are to avoid lowering the actual rent due to Prop 13?

I think you mean rent control, not prop 13.

Anyhow this commenter sounds like they know what they're talking about and are saying that landlords in SF cannot beat rent control in this manner: https://socketsite.com/archives/2020/06/complimentary-rent-o...

Ack, you're right, I did!

If I'm not incorrect this doesn't apply to newer properties.

Generally it introduces more complexity in the process so tenants can't easily share and get outraged by different rent levels, because everyone is "paying the same". So if you rent is $3k/month but you don't have to pay for 2 months, you are still going to pay $3k.

Additionally once the lease is up you are starting with $3k baseline rather than $2,500.

The value of commercial (ie 4 or more units) rental property is calculated directly from the rent it can command and you can find yourself upside down on a loan I’d your rent dips too far. This is also why you’ll find places would rather have vacant apartments than lower rent too far.

> We just canceled our lease two weeks ago. We had a large apartment in one of the new high-rises in Downtown LA.

> The last offer was 3 months free and 2 parking spaces free if we stay for 12 month lease, which comes to 34% discount on the rent including parking.

That's weird how everytime I discover something new about "free market" in USA, I'm glad to live in Europe.

Having to negotiate your lease like you would with a bag of apples seems insane to me since rents are regulated as are drops or increases in an occurring lease.

I'm originally from Europe. I do like that I can negotiate better terms than the market, but I also acknowledge that this is not better system for everyone.

The benefit of the US system is that higher rents create more incentive to produce more supply. It sometimes breaks down, like it did in SF, but in DTLA this worked well. Developers smelled opportunity, build bunch of new apartment buildings and we were able to lower our rent by 35% just within 14 months.

If the market was regulated, then no new supply would be produced as there is no incentive to do so.

Do you see this in non-hot markets as well (aka the Midwest)? My lease is up in July, and I don't really want to move, but any chance to knock even $50 off my monthly rent would be nice.

to give some context (depending on your rent) but anytime a landlord/PM has to place a new tenant, there are leasing fees/commissions (usually) that equate to between 1/2 to a full month's rent. so if your rent is $1000/month, at a $500 leasing fee to the landlord for a new tenant, they are better off just giving you a $40/month discount (minimum) if you just consider the commission.

they also have to deal with make ready costs, time, and potentially vacancy which any landlord who is objective would gladly say "you want $50/month off your rent? done!" - i would at least.

the only time this doesn't work is in a "hot" rental market where the landlord/PM can charge more for rent and/or have a waitlist (in multifamily scenarios)

Give it a try, you’ve got nothing to loose. And also look around, you might find something better for the same price or cheaper and possibly nearby. Your landlord would loose a lot more if they don’t make a counter-offer, especially if you’ve been a good tenant

Thanks for the insight. Any perspective on NYC specifically?

Lots of people are moving Upstate from NYC and relatively few new people are moving in: schools are closed. During this time of the year lots of youngsters would normally move in but that is not the case. Rents should drop for sure. Realtors are also bluffing the price up because of a higher omission they get.

Anecdote: I know a realtor who jacked up the price of an apartment in Queens by $250 because it was supposedly under the market price and the landlord priced it wrong. That realtor found the people to move in, but I think what they did was utterly wrong, greedy, etc

So insist, look around and don’t settle for less (in this case for more than you're willing to pay for, and subtract some from that). If there was a good time to bargain now is the time. Be picky! I've seen such oddities in this dirty city, apartments a few feet from the train station - imagine the unbearable noise - which rent for nearly the market price minus 1-200. I've seen apartments with caved in floors rent for almost the market price.

I have no insight into other buildings but management where I live, a pricey 400+ unit in LIC, haven’t budged on anyone’s rent as leases end. Everyone we socialize with (we have a small daughter and there used to be a big crew of babies) has either left or is leaving in the next few months, the garage is less than half full — it’s a ghost town. They’re still raising rents and refused to negotiate with anyone we know. The building is rent stabilized so maybe they fear that lowering the rent will make it impossible for them to hit certain numbers over the next few years?

> The building is rent stabilized so maybe they fear that lowering the rent will make it impossible for them to hit certain numbers over the next few years?

A friend of mine was speculating this as well -- that the market hasn't moved as much as it could because landlords are worried about getting “locked in” at a lower rate. My hunch is that it's not entirely true yet, or else we'd be seeing more concessions (free first month, etc.) that don't impact the stabilized price -- at least in my Manhattan building, even concessions that have been offered (off and on) under normal circumstances are not listed any more.

NY is a weird place where you can see same vacant retail spaces sit on teh market for years and years with landlords unwilling to budge doe to perceived loss of paper building value.

I didn’t try to negotiate down, but I did move up to a much nicer apartment for essentially the same price.

that's essentially the same thing! congrats!!

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