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13% of folks left Boston for a less dense city

When you think of potential sites for a mass exodus, you likely think of NYC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. But Apartment List data shows Boston is on trend for a pending exodus.

20% fewer Bostonians searched for apartments within the city in Q2 2020 than in Q1 (San Francisco had zero change). Many people moving from Boston chose to go to a new metro area (including out of state).

Boston is experiencing an urban exodus.
Source: Density analysis of data released by Apartment List.

Both Boston and NYC are expensive to live in and experience harsh winters.

But Boston living is different from NYC living. More Bostonians than New Yorkers own a car. New York’s public transpiration system runs 24-hours a day. Some people would argue you could get everything you need in life — including worldly cultural experiences — without ever leaving Manhattan.

That’s not the case with Boston. In other words, it’s easier for a Bostonian to consider relocating to a smaller city than a New Yorker. It’s less drastic a change.

And since more people can work from anywhere, it seems many Bostonians are choosing to make a change.

Impact on the Boston Real Estate Market

Recent news reports, preliminary data, and anecdotes suggest the COVID-19 pandemic is either causing or accelerating an exodus from Boston. The extent of any such exodus, and whether it proves to be temporary or permanent, is not yet clear — at least not in data sources traditionally used to quantify residential mobility.

The stakes are high: significant population shifts could affect the size and composition of regional labor markets as well as rent and home values. Some fear that mass departures by the state’s wealthy could reduce local and state tax revenues, potentially affecting the services governments are able to provide for years to come.

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