Flight to Safety in U.S. Housing emerged this summer as a favored catchphrase to describe the swell of urban dwellers decamping to suburbs, small towns and rural areas. Initially, the incentive was protection from the COVID pandemic. Plus, after sequestering in cramped apartments, a desire for more space inside and outside emerged as another compelling factor.
This summer and fall, safety morphed into an overarching concern, taking on a much broader, more nuanced meaning to include everything from crime and urban unrest to taxes and the cost of living. According to the Manhattan Institute for Policy, a nonprofit focused on domestic policy and urban affairs, more than 44 percent of those earning $100,000 and up in New York City considered relocating in the last five months. The cost of living was cited by 69 percent, while 47 percent pointed to crime as a reason to leave the city. Concern over Coronavirus was also cited by 34 percent.
Nationally, while robberies, rapes and property crimes decreased significantly in the first six months of 2020 compared to the first six months of 2019, murder and nonnegligent manslaughter offenses increased by 14.8 percent, aggravated assault offenses were up by 4.6 percent, according to FBI preliminary data.
In South Florida, James Torrance with Keller Williams says newcomers used to tell him they were moving to Florida because of the state’s tax policies. "Often, they would also so say they had always wanted to live in Florida." Now, he says, "it’s taxes and safety, and more safety than taxes." Another flip is the number looking for primary, rather than second homes.
The pandemic promises to have left a long-lasting, if nor permanent, imprint on consumer desires, and safety will continue to be a greater consideration.