Image: Pattanaphong Khuankaew/ via AFP Relaxnews

City mouse versus country mouse. Although this dichotomy is as old as time, the coronavirus pandemic is rumored to have pushed thousands of big-city dwellers to flee to the suburbs and the countryside.

Here are some indications from areas around the world that may make you wonder whether urban living is a vestige of the pre-coronavirus era.

United States

Many residents of America’s biggest cities abandoned the physical proximity of urban living to head to their more spacious vacation homes, or spend their weeks of lockdown with extended family in the suburbs.

This trend was particularly visible in New York, where an estimated 5% of the population left the city between March 1 and May 1, according to a New York Times analysis of cellphone location data.

However, real estate website Zillow has noted that searches for urban properties increased in 29 of the 35 largest U.S. metropolitan markets in April compared to the same period last year, suggesting that urban living is still popular in the country.


Canadian real estate agents are experiencing a peak interest in purchasing rural recreational properties, while the housing market of Greater Toronto Area tumbled 69% year over year in April.

A report by real estate company Zoocasa also notes that the median condo apartment price declined a steep $65,000 to $574,000 (-10%) in the city of Toronto between February and April 2020.

While real estate sales are slowing in Canada’s biggest cities, real estate companies have noticed rising interest especially among younger people for land, chalet and country houses outside of the greater Montreal region.

This trend was identified long before the coronavirus pandemic, with an April 2019 Royal Bank of Canada report noting that “more young individuals are leaving [Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal] for nearby areas, and we can presume that housing costs are a big factor.”


The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the diversity of Australia’s resident property markets across the country.

According to Australian digital property portal Domain Group, smaller cities, such as Wollongong and Newcastle, are seeing prices holding up due to interest from people looking to move away from big cities.

Much like Canada, this trend was identified long before the pandemic. The Regional Australia Institute notably reports that Sydney and Melbourne respectively saw a net loss of 64,756 and 21,609 people to regional Australia between 2011 and 2016.

United Kingdom

While the British government put the housing market in a temporary freeze in March, prospective homebuyers are increasingly planning to move out of the city to a rural area or smaller town.

British real estate company Rightmove has revealed that visits to its site during the last three days of April were up more than 20% compared with the first weeks of lockdown, as more people stuck at home started to think about a new life in the country.

Potential buyers are particularly making enquiries for second homes or permanent residences in cities in the North West, Yorkshire and Humber areas, including Hereford, Wigan, Rochdale and Scarborough.

More surprisingly, Inverness in the Scottish Highlands is the location that has seen the highest increase in searches from 2019 (+167%). JB


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