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The Pandemic Changed Where Americans Live-WSJ

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The Pandemic Changed Where Americans Live

Big cities lost residents, as younger households left for the suburbs and older people accelerated retirement moves, while fewer newcomers came to take their places

The pandemic has spurred a burst of mobility that is

accelerating changes

in where and how Americans live.

Some young people are leaving cities earlier than is typical, while some older people are

speeding up retirement moves

. Fewer newcomers are giving cities a try, meaning the people moving out aren’t being replaced by fresh residents.

Suburbs are emerging as the winners from these changes, marking the

end of a decadelong growth trend for big cities

. Companies intent on lowering overhead and retaining talent are opening offices there, and developers are adding amenities to keep entertainment dollars local.

In the largest cities, the changes are helping erase billions of dollars of annual property tax revenue and fueling double-digit decreases in rents. In 2020, higher-income neighborhoods lost more residents to migration than lower-income neighborhoods.

With many companies signaling a new openness to remote work after the pandemic ends, cities are bracing for a future where spending on public transportation, lunches and other drivers of the urban economy don’t return to pre-pandemic levels.

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