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Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted the way the world sees remote employment. Though restrictions are lightening in some areas, new variants continue to cause concern for returning to everyday life. Remote employment is expected to double by the end of 2021. It is also anticipated that by 2025, 70% of the workforce will be working remotely. Our priorities have shifted with so many now working from home, but does this affect downtown city real estate? The answer seemingly is yes, and all over the world.

“Demand for ground-level housing outside the city continues to be one of the major storylines of the past 12 months,” wrote a Toronto real estate agent, in one of their monthly newsletters earlier in the year. “Buyers look for more space and lower price points than can be found in the city,” he continued.

In Sydney, Australia, where restrictions have been nearly fully lifted, has seen office occupancy at only 59%. Here are some factors as to why people are leaving the downtown cores around the world.

Transit

Remote working means we don’t have to commute to work anymore. Thus, living close to the workplace or reliable transit in downtown city real estate is less important. Even in a city like New York, it was reported earlier this year that subway ridership are just 40%-50% of their pre-pandemic levels.

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Space

Isolating in our homes has left us in close proximity to our immediate families or housemates. In smaller spaces where we feel suffocated, tensions can arise between us.

In the UK, a British law firm noted a 122% increase in divorce and breakup enquiries between July and October 2020 compared to their previous year.

Those seeking more space tend to branch further out of the downtown city real estate core. Related to needing more space, having a designated office area has also become an increasingly sought out feature in the housing market.

People

The downtown city real estate core will always be the most populated area of a city. It’s why major cities are the first to have pandemic outbreaks and continue to have some of the worst-case numbers. Not only that, with many restrictions on store capacities, lines for necessities such as the grocery store can become tedious if the foot traffic around them is densely populated. Many are moving further out of the city to avoid the congestion, lowering their exposure risks and time spent in lines.

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Boredom

One of the biggest perks of living in downtown city real estate has been the abundance of things to do. Being walking or a short transit away from the nearest festival, club event, or art viewing.

Though this has lessened as restrictions have lightened, all these events that rely on public gatherings have been closed, heavily restricted, or put online. Without attending any events, people begin to doubt the price tag associated with the cost of convenience if convenience isn’t there.

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