There has been an unexpected side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic – single-family homes listed for sale outside of cities are seeing multiple offers almost immediately.
The mini real estate boom comes as city dwellers begin to emerge from mandatory lockdowns in places like New York City. Many residents have found that there's not enough space or freedom to suit them in their downtown apartments, particularly when a second wave of the virus appears to be likely.
Between March 15 and April 28, moves from New York to Connecticut increased 74 percent over the period a year ago, according to FlatRate Moving. Moves to New Jersey saw a 38 percent jump, while Long Island was up 48 percent.
Also, suburban towns not really known for their rental stock have had huge spikes in activity, which is being driven in part by escaping New Yorkers, according to brokers in those areas. (source)
Other sources suggest that the migration might not be out of the cities, but into other states or even other countries.
People are not moving just because they want more space, either. In an uncertain economic climate with the forecast that many more businesses are going to take their offices online, there's nothing holding people in expensive urban areas. After all, they may soon be able to do their jobs at any place with a good wifi connection.
With an investment like real estate, it's very important to make sure you're not jumping out of the frying pan perhaps not into the fire, but laterally into a slightly larger frying pan.
This isn't an article about creating a bug-out location in the boondocks complete with a bunker. Plenty of those exist out there on the internet if that's what you're looking for. For the purposes of this article, we're discussing moving from a current urban location to one that is in suburbia or even more rural.
Here's are a few things you should look for when leaving the city.
Think about what you want to be able to do in your new home.
What is your goal when you leave the city? Do you just want more space without paying big city prices? Are you looking for a yard so the kids can play outside? Or are you planning on becoming more self-reliant due to the supply chain problems we've witnessed?
Think about whether you plan to grow things like vegetables or fruit trees. Maybe you're hoping to have some backyard chickens for your own fresh egg supply. Perhaps you want to go further than that and raise larger livestock to produce your own meat supply. Whatever it is you hope to do, have a clear idea of this in mind when searching for your new location.
Avoid communities with HOAs.
Ask any prepper or wannabe homesteader and they'll tell you that Home Owner's Associations are the banes of their existence. HOAs are put in place to keep neighborhoods from dealing with declining property values due to a neighbor's uncut grass or noisy pets. They can have a wide variety of restrictions that could a cramp in your sustainable style. Not all HOAs have all of these regulations, but it's important to note that it only takes a vote of the association to change the rules that apply to your property.
Some HOAs monitor the following:
The length of your grass
The height of your fence
Whether you can have backyard chickens
Where your vegetable garden is allowed to be
Banning water catchment systems
Restrictions on outbuilding types and sizes
Whether you're allowed to hang your laundry outdoors
What percentage of your yard must be grass and what can be flower beds or gardens
The list of potential restrictions goes on and on. Needless to say, if you're moving in order to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle, you'll want to avoid HOAs.