Millions of Americans fled from cities during pandemic and have no plans to go back

Americans packed up and moved out of big cities by the millions over the past several months amid the COVID-19 pandemic and are not planning on returning, meaning some smaller communities and suburban areas will look very different for the foreseeable future.

In October and November, according to real estate site Redfin, top destinations included Sacramento, Calif., Las Vegas, Phoenix, Austin, Texas, and Atlanta.

“As the coronavirus pandemic and the shift toward remote work continues across the country, more people than ever are looking to make long-distance moves, often from expensive coastal regions to affordable inland areas where they can find more space for less money,” Redfin noted in a report.

The outlet based its findings on an analysis of more than 2 million site users “who searched across 87 metro areas in October and November.”

Though the aforementioned destinations have always been popular for Americans seeking to relocate, “the number of out-of-towners searching for homes in all five metros has skyrocketed since last year,” Redfin noted further.

“There has been a massive influx of buyers coming to Austin this year, mostly people who work in tech or other industries that allow them to work remotely,” said local Redfin agent Andrew Vallejo.

“About 80 percent of my buyers are from the East Coast or the West Coast, specifically from the Bay Area. The number of people moving in from California picked up even more after the election, and a lot of people have newfound confidence in the Austin housing market because of the upcoming Tesla factory,” he added.

“I’ve also noticed a lot of people come to Austin, rent a house for a couple months, then fall in love with the walkability and charm of the city and move here permanently,” Vallejo continued.

“The number of out-of-towners makes the market difficult for locals, especially if they don’t work in tech. A lot of local homebuyers have to look in the far-flung suburbs to find a home, or they have to turn to family members for cash to make their offers more competitive,” said Vallejo.

In addition to the pandemic, other factors including high taxes and rising violence are contributing to the mass migration.

“I never wanted to leave California. It’s the most beautiful state with the best climate. I think the tipping point was continued tax increases and even more proposed tax increases. … I have absolutely no regrets,” California resident Scott Fuller told local media in San Diego last month.

There has been a similar exodus — of residents and businesses — from New York City and state as well, and for the same reasons.

“[E]very major Wall Street firm is drawing up plans to significantly slash its presence in the city for the foreseeable future,” Fox Business Network reported in late December.

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“The diminished workforce is a function of several factors. … Those factors include the now proven ability to work outside the office – which in low-cost states like Florida and Texas — could slash already high Manhattan real estate costs. But maybe the biggest factor, these people say, is a lack of faith in the ruling political class in New York,” the network continued.

Bankers in the Big Apple, as well as others, are blaming leftist Mayor Bill de Blasio for policies that have allowed crime rates to surge including murders, Fox Business Network reported.

In addition, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is being blamed for perpetuating lockdowns that are devastating “the small businesses and quality of life in the city,” FNB noted.

Others are fleeing states that are operating under similar restrictions and conditions.

“I can’t stand living in Colorado anymore,” said Jehna Powell, 23, who works at a bar and a gym after moving from Eaton to Pensacola Beach, Fla. recently.

“The governor does not have the best interest for small businesses and people born and raised in Colorado,” she told NBC News.

She added that in her newly adopted state, people are “happy … being able to do what they see necessary as far as protecting themselves,” noting that in the bar where she works, masks are not mandatory.

“We mainly just want to see our kids thrive,” Amber Parker of Atascadero, Calif., said, noting that she and her husband decided to move after he lost his job as a head coach at a junior college that decided to forego sports last year.

“California is completely shut down,” she told NBC News in justifying the family’s move to South Carolina.

Jon Dougherty

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