Published on Friday, April 9, 2021

There will be significant movement into educated, smaller cities like Nashville, Boulder, and Santa Fe.


Recovery from the COVID-19 crisis<—
In a recent podcast discussion with CBRE, professor Joel Kotkin, author of “The Human City, ” noted that while these migration patterns were already underway pre-COVID, the pandemic accelerated the trend and will bring about a rapid shift in migration patterns.

New York “will change somewhat,” Kotkin said, with growth likely being less than Michael Bloomberg’s predictions of 10 million residents within the city’s limits. But departures from cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston have “already been happening,” Kotkin said.

“It's been happening for most of the last decade and accelerated well before the pandemic,” he noted. “Does that mean that New York City is going to become the new, you know, empty prairie? No, there will be people who will stay in New York.”

But Kotkin predicts significant movement into educated, smaller cities like Nashville, Boulder, and Santa Fe<—
“Places like New York and San Francisco and even Los Angeles to some extent have an attraction to people who can buy themselves out of the negativity, although they do it because they're young and Daddy's paying the rent or they're very wealthy,” Kotkin said. “And so they can send the kids to private school. And if there is a pandemic, they can run off to the Catskills or they can go to their condo in Florida.”

Industries that are dependent on a particular labor pool will stay in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York, he maintains, but cities like Raleigh-Durham and Austin will continue to grab for tech market share and lure professionals from the Bay Area and Manhattan.

“These are the places that are seeing the biggest increases over time, so I think that it's going to be a mixed picture,” he says. And I believe as somebody who studies cities that the biggest enemies of urbanism are those who are denying that anything has changed, that we're going to go back to where we were before. And I don't think that's the case. I think it will be different, which means you have to have a different strategy.”

Kotkin told CBRE he predicts the nature of work will change, with many people choosing to work from home a few days a week and commute into an office the other days. Business travel will also change, he says, with many workers choosing to attend events remotely as opposed to flying cross-country for a dinner.

“I think where you are really going to see some changes is that people are going to start to look at different places, different options, and different ways of doing things,” he said. “And I think the key thing for cities<—