Will people head to the 'burbs younger because of COVID?

July 8, 2020 by Ted Bauer

The short answer to the title of the post is: "Probably not."

But there is some evidence. 

You have two data points to consider:

  • A recent COVID study from RealPage.
  • Another recent COVID-related study from Apartments.com.

Both are summarized in this article.

What was discovered?

Well, RealPage found that people were moving out of downtown Dallas, Oak Lawn, Deep Ellum, and Uptown in the second quarter. Anecdotally, we saw some of that as well. We've seen a shift/exodus to Collin County, where you might have a bit more space and the prices are somewhat more reasonable.

At Apartments.com, they saw a 40% rise in searches for suburban apartment complexes in recent months -- and the 13 largest U.S. metros, which includes both Dallas and Fort Worth, saw an overall 38% rise in those searches in the last 90 days. 

So is everyone racing to the suburbs?

Not really. That would be a "blistering hot take" but it might not be fully accurate. 

Instead, what is probably happening (it varies by individual situation) is a mix of things:

  • People are scared about COVID in a spacing and recurring (i.e. wave after wave) context and they want more space.
  • People were living in Uptown with a few roommates and two got laid off or furloughed, so it became harder for the group to make rent, and thus some people struck out on their own in Collin or formed new roommate partnerships.
  • People are working from home more so proximity to a specific office matters less, and maybe their parents, friends, relatives, or whomever live in another area adjacent to Dallas/Fort Worth that seems like a better fit for them. 

The trend line on the coasts is more that people are leaving inner cores for suburban home purchase. That is happening somewhat in DFW, but as we've chronicled, it's a hot market (good!) but prices haven't come down (boo!) so not everyone can afford to enter the home purchase game right now, even with low rates. 

Traditionally the model was that "young and childless and bar-hopping" would populate the urban cores, and "slightly older and with children and not bar-hopping as much except a few random Saturdays per year" would populate the suburban sprawl. That is still largely the picture, sure, but COVID will shift it a little bit in all directions. 

What about "the rural renaissance?"

We have covered this twice: once about "the density shift" and once about broader demographic shifts. This is a possibility, and North Texas is certainly a logical place for it to happen (think of Fannin County, past McKinney, which is only starting to be developed fully). But there are concerns around Internet connectivity, shipping, education, proximity to friends/family, proximity to supermarkets and big box stores, etc. If you can make it work, awesome -- and we could see people head to less-populous areas adjacent to the Metroplex. But will there be an en masse shift to rural counties before the end of 2020? Probably not. 

If you're chasing a bit of distance, though, check out some of our offerings in:

And, as of a few weeks ago, we have Home listings as well.

About the Author

Ted Bauer

Ted Bauer is a writer/editor for White Rock Locators focused on as much cool content about the DFW Metroplex rental scene as he can possibly find week-to-week.