Updated: Oct 8, 2021
The Effects of COVID-19 on Deurbanization
The effects of COVID-19 have contributed to increased deurbanization trends among city dwellers. Like many families, the Miller family found themselves questioning if they wanted to stay in New York City when the coronavirus began to ravage households and hospitals began to reach capacity. When a coronavirus outbreak struck Mr. Miller’s workplace, everyone was sent home to work remotely. Five months into teleworking, the company soon realized that not only was productivity stronger than ever before, but they could easily increase their profit margins by letting their expensive New York City lease expire.
The company soon relocated to New Jersey, securing a smaller, more efficient workspace to collaborate in while leaving the majority of team members to work remotely. The Miller family soon realized there was no need for them to be tied to New York City, and Mr. Miller began to look at houses in rural North Carolina where he could relocate his family and take advantage of mild winters, a slower pace of life, and increased recreational time with his family. Like the Miller’s, the pandemic has spurred many families toward a sharp trend in deurbanization. The Rise in Deurbanization
The trend in deurbanization has continued to make headlines, and it shows no signs of reversing any time soon. Dean Donovan, a contributor with Forbes, addressed this trend towards the end of 2020 in “Deurbanization Rising: Covid-19, Remote Work and Electric Aviation Will Reshape Living Patterns”:
Between 2006 and 2019, remote work expanded 170% to the point where about 8% of people with jobs worked remotely. By August 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic helped drive that figure to 20%, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Global Workforce Analytics believes the percentage of telecommuters will hit 25% to 30% by the end of 2021.
The rise in deurbanization has increased primarily due to the ability to work remotely, which was spurred out of necessity due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the move towards deurbanization began to increase before the pandemic, teleworking has accelerated the shift for those who desire more freedom, less stress, and a more family-oriented way of life. By collecting city wages and still enjoying the benefits of rural life, remote work is letting many families get a taste of both worlds. The Futuristic Implications of Deurbanization
The rise in deurbanization carries futuristic implications with it. For example, the acceleration in deurbanization will increase the intense need for quality and affordable housing. The influx of newcomers who still make city wages will revitalize rural economies and quickly diversify them. Thomas Frey, a futurist speaker, wrote in his article “Deurbanization – How Will this New Trend Affect You in the Future,” about the economic and social effects of deurbanization:
One of the benefits of de-urbanization is the economic “sprinkling effect,” in which higher-income workers move to outlying locations and support their local economies and tax bases. I would take that a step further and predict that these transplants will also sprinkle other positive things – like ideas and diversity.
Therefore, Frey makes his argument that two of the highest benefits of the trend in deurbanization is a boost in rural economies, as well as increased diversification of rural areas. He also goes on to describe how the coronavirus pandemic has affected deurbanization:
The common theme in all of this is that voluntary de-urbanization will stir the pot. It’s like knocking over the Monopoly board once someone has accumulated most of the money and properties. . . . But COVID has triggered macro-level changes in our world – multiple distinct adjustments that will play out and forever change the trajectory of certain trends into our future. De-urbanization will be one of those changes for the better – right along with 2020’s other positive divergences in healthcare, pharmaceutical research, corporate social responsibility, are others.
Similar to Mr. Miller and his family, the rising rates of deurbanization have more far-reaching effects than many could have imagined. Through time, we may come to witness even more positive benefits surrounding the trend in deurbanization. Conclusion
The advent of remote working, which was heavily spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, has offered benefits to companies and workers alike. Companies are able to save on overhead costs by forfeiting expensive leases. In addition, many companies have witnessed an increase in productivity among their workers. With the ability to live on city wages and enjoy the benefits of rural life, many families have chosen to relocate during the pandemic. This trend in deurbanization will in turn fuel rural economies, as well as exacerbate the need for quality and affordable housing. Importantly, the trend toward deurbanization does not seem to be going anywhere any time soon, and it continues to rise across the country.