How US migration patterns reflect the rise in suburban-urban living

It’s Oscar season but we’re not thinking much about this year’s movie nominees. At Streitwise, we’re staying entertained by observing the results of CBRE’s 2020 migration study: “COVID-19 Impact on Resident Migration Patterns”. Turns out the headlines about urban city dwellers moving to more cost-efficient suburbs were largely on point. But now the abundant anecdotal evidence can be matched with more concrete data compiled in CBRE’s Migration Report.

The biggest losers were mostly primary urban cities, especially those with heavy tech exposure:

  1. San Francisco
  2. New York
  3. Seattle
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Washington D.C.

The largest cohort of the urban outflow was well-educated, young professionals, most of whom can work remotely. The flight from major cities reflects an environment where young adults can plan to have families in larger living spaces and more cost-efficiently. In our own experience, we also know they are targeting suburbs that are dense enough to support local amenities that were previously satisfied within the urban cores.

While many who left their urban abodes will return once the pandemic subsides, a considerable percentage probably won’t. This sudden shift effectively pulls forward a trend that was already in motion prior to the pandemic, further supporting Streitwise’s thesis of investing in suburban-urban areas where employees will continue to be drawn to affordable neighborhoods with abundant retail/communal amenities and space to raise a family.  

Our recent leasing momentum in the midst of a global pandemic – including signing Truist Bank to a 7-year lease at a building-high rent in Indianapolis – is proof positive that our portfolio is positioned to benefit from these long term tailwinds for years to come.