ApartmentAdvisor Survey on City Sentiment Finds Urban Dwellers Resuming ‘Normal Life’ Amid Pandemic, But Expectations for City Comeback Are Mixed
Jul 27, 2021
Cambridge, MA. July 27, 2021 – ApartmentAdvisor (www.apartmentadvisor.com), an online apartment rental search platform, released the results of a survey examining how urban renters are feeling about living in their cities after enduring nearly a year and a half of Covid-19 related hardships and restrictions.
Among the urban renters surveyed, one third (31%) reported feeling much less or somewhat less satisfied with living in their city compared to before the pandemic, while 18% said they are now somewhat or very satisfied. Half (51%) of respondents reported their level of satisfaction with living in their city has not changed at all compared to before the pandemic. Notably, large city dwellers are less likely to be satisfied with living in their city than small city dwellers. Renters whose employers have established remote work plans are also less likely to be satisfied with living in their city now compared to renters whose employers have established hybrid or on premises work policies.
Even as the pandemic persists, many respondents indicated they are re-engaging in a wide variety of ‘normal’ public city activities that had been restricted during much of the pandemic. These include gathering indoors at bars or restaurants (81% said they are somewhat or very comfortable), attending indoor movie theaters (78%), visiting museums (86%), using public transportation (69%), attending a sports game or concert at an indoor stadium (74%), and using ride-share services like Uber and Lyft (74%). Eighty-six percent (86%) of the urban renters surveyed said they are also somewhat or very comfortable working on premises at their place of employment.
Predictions for how long it will take for a full comeback in their cities varied. More than a third (36%) of respondents said they believe their city will be back to pre-pandemic levels of activity by the end of this year, and 9% said their city is already back. Another 30% of respondents predict it will take up to two years. Others are much less optimistic: 11% think it will take many years and 9% predict their cities will never get back to pre-pandemic levels of activity. (A further 4% said they did not believe the pandemic impacted city living at all.)
The survey also revealed the extent to which the pandemic has caused city renters to reconsider where they live. While many respondents (60%) indicated the pandemic did not cause them to rethink their current city location at all, 40% responded that the pandemic did in fact cause them to reassess living in their current city. Notably, renters in small cities (population less than 500K) are not as likely to reconsider their current location compared to renters in large cities. Older renters are also not as likely to consider a move.
The most common reasons for considering a move include a desire to live closer to friends and family, a change in employment, or a desire to reduce the cost of rent. Relatively few people cited concerns about city-recovery (1.5%) or concerns about a future pandemic (5%) as a reason to consider relocating. For most, reconsidering location does not mean abandoning city life altogether, merely considering a different city: 50% said they are more likely to consider living in a smaller city, and 26% say a larger city. Twenty-four percent (24%) said they are now more likely to consider a suburban or rural location.
Even with some people pondering a new location, the survey found that for most urban renters, the priorities that attracted them to their cities before the pandemic remain the factors that they continue to value most about their city. These include affordability of their desired rental property, proximity to their place of work, employment opportunities, and proximity to friends and family.
Other key survey findings:
- Impact on Relationships with Neighbors: Nearly a third (27%) of respondents reported that their interactions with their neighbors are more positive now than before the pandemic started, while 17% said their interactions with neighbors are more negative. Nearly half (48%) said their interactions with neighbors did not change.
- Renters Want More Space: After months of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, the additional apartment amenities renters said they want the most have a common theme: more space. This includes more space within their apartment as well as private outdoor space such as a patio or balcony or a common building entertainment space such as a lounge, pool or patio.
The ApartmentAdvisor “Urban Renters Survey: Pandemic Impact on City Sentiment” report can be found here.
ApartmentAdvisor conducted an online poll among a national Momentiv (formerly Survey Monkey) sample of 1,025 U.S. adults in the U.S. who self-reported as renters living in urban locations. The sample was balanced in terms of key demographics (gender, region, income) according to the U.S. census, and the survey was fielded between June 27 and July 1, 2021.
ApartmentAdvisor (www.apartmentadvisor.com) helps renters easily find the right apartment. The company is building a rental search platform that combines rigorous rent price analytics with neighborhood insights from local residents, empowering renters with a more transparent way to compare prices, features and locations of available apartments.
ApartmentAdvisor was founded in 2020 by a team of founders and engineers from TripAdvisor and CarGurus, including Langley Steinert (co-founder of TripAdvisor and founder and executive chairman at CarGurus); Tom Gilmore (founder and CEO of VacationHomeRentals, sold to TripAdvisor); Josh Arnold (engineering at TripAdvisor and director of data science for MineralTree); and Oliver Chrzan (former chief technology officer at CarGurus). The company is based in Cambridge, MA.
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