Fleeing the city: Here’s what new homeowners are looking for in suburbia

Kristina and Grayson Dove enjoyed all the city life San Francisco had to offer from their two-bedroom condo in a high-rise residential tower downtown. Great restaurants, nightlife, theater, music and arts events lay just outside their door. Kristina’s office was an easy BART stop away.

Then came March of 2020. The pandemic sent employees home to work remotely. The city rolled up its sidewalks and pulled the shades. And Kristina, an event and food director for Twitter, began working out of her bedroom.

“I didn’t leave the room all day,” she said.

In June, she had twins, which took over the second bedroom. Her husband, a biotech auctioneer, began taking calls in the living room. Without a yard or even a balcony, they rarely went outside. The dazzle of city life faded.

“Once COVID hit, the luster of the city was really gone,” Kristina said.

The Doves both grew up in big cities; she’s from New York, and he’s from the Bay Area. The city felt like home to them. Until it didn’t.

“We saw an influx of petty crime and a loss of the culture that made the city so great,” she said. “Homeless encampments were growing because of the downturn in business. I no longer felt safe or welcome. All the things that kept us here ― the restaurants, nightlife, art scene, music ― were gone. The city became a ghost town.”

That change, the need for space and the fact that she no longer had to commute to work led the Doves to do what many families across America ― those upended by the pandemic and re-evaluating their lives ― have done: They left the city for suburbia.

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In December, the Doves moved 18 miles north to a five-bedroom, 4,800-square-foot two-story house on a near-acre in Kentfield.

Their real estate agent Tracy McLaughlin helped them find what McLaughlin says more and more clients want today: “They were looking to get out of the city. They wanted walkability, a family home that was nice but not showy. They wanted a pool, a nice neighborhood and good schools.”

“Before we had no outdoor space at all. Now we have a pool. We’re barbecuing and love just being in the yard,” Kristina said. “My heart has really changed. I no longer have the stress of walking outside and worrying about who is around the corner.”

McLaughlin, author of “Real Estate Rescue: How America Leaves Billions Behind in Residential Real Estate and How to Maximize Your Home’s Value” (Mango Media, April 2020), says the Doves have plenty of company.

“Because of COVID, many adults had an opportunity to live somewhere else and work,” McLaughlin said.

Many formerly office-based workers, who temporarily moved out of cities during the pandemic, found they liked where they went better than where they were before, so they made the decision to pivot.

Many companies are accommodating the change long term. Once the pandemic lifts, for instance, Twitter is letting workers choose whether they want to work: in the office, from home or a combination. Kristina says she’ll likely opt for the hybrid …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment


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