I spend most weekends outside the city. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, I've headed for Upstate New York. I've noticed something: I’m not alone.
But my fellow exiles aren't just visiting. Many are staying. They've brought the kids: one school district near me reports a sharp rise in enrollment, the first in decades.
This is a microcosm of a new demographic trend: the movement out of cities.
In-classroom education is a big attraction: very few big cities offer it for even a single day, let alone the whole week. Parents with the money will move in the interests of their children.
They're doing it, because they can. In the new economy, many well-paid people can work from home. They can't go to their office in the city, but they can work from anywhere with a decent internet connection and Zoom.
Plus, it's affordable: get out of town and check out the cost of a home with a couple of acres. I repeat, a couple of acres! Surely that’s attractive to apartment owners with children, especially when the joys of city living have disappeared.
And I hate to burst the liberals' bubble, but out in the country, it’s much safer. Gun ownership is very common. Mugging, murder and mayhem are not.
The suburbs are getting a big share of the exodus from cities: The New York Times reports a 44% increase in home sales in July in the suburbs right outside the city, and a 56% drop in sales in Manhattan. The Times cites one house in New Jersey offered at $285,000: 97 showings, 24 offers. The house sold for 21% above the offering price.
It's not just New York.
A recent Pew Research study found 1 in 5 of us relocated this year, or know someone who has. And it's the under-45's who are doing most of the moving: that is a significant demographic shift.
Truth is, the virus is reshaping our society. And at this moment, our biggest cities are taking an enormous hit.
People are leaving, and 6th Avenue, the center of New York City is still close to empty.
Adapted from Stuart Varney's "My Take" monologue on "Varney & Co." on Aug. 31, 2020.