Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and other large cities in the United States have become meccas for people looking to accelerate their careers and cultivate an active social life. The big cities offered an abundance of employment opportunities and vibrant nightlife. People paid exorbitant prices for homes and apartments. They viewed this as the cost of entree into having a better life and job.
Seemingly almost overnight, the mood drastically changed. Those living in places like New York City found themselves stuck in small, crowded apartments, as they were ordered to stay home. The restaurants, clubs, gyms, hair salons, museums, concerts and sporting events abruptly closed down.
Residents started questioning why they are paying so much money for rent when they can’t avail themselves to all of the offerings of Manhattan. As 40 million Americans lost their jobs, city dwellers had to wrestle with paying a large amount of their salaries in housing costs and taxes, while either not having a job or holding onto their positions for dear life.
If that’s not enough to make someone want to move out to greener pastures, the peaceful protests against the killing of George Floyd turned into something more sinister. People unrelated to the protests used this as an opportunity to riot, loot, vandalize and run rampant—causing chaos and mayhem.
There are hard-to-watch videos all over Twitter showing retail stores that have been broken into with groups of people stealing their merchandise. Buildings have been set ablaze and innocent bystanders and business owners have been preyed upon with senseless violence. Times Square, the epicenter of tourism for New York, looked as if it was attacked by enemy forces. Rioters blew up an ATM machine in Philadelphia. A man, in strong physical shape, attempted to ward off looters from his shop. He was met with a swarm of violent people pummeling him.
The mayors and governors of cities across the nation appeared clueless and inept in managing the crisis and their forsaken citizens who they took an oath to protect. President Donald Trump departed from his usual tweeting and press conferences and hunkered down in a bunker beneath the White House. This left the citizens frightened and forced to fend for themselves. There were concerns raised regarding police responses that were inconsistent at best and brutally heavy-handed at its worst. It’s now life-threatening to venture outdoors at night.
In the past, you were limited to the big cities for your career. Now, there are more options for people who feel betrayed and victimized. Over the last decade, many companies moved out of expensive locations, like New York, to places such as North Carolina, Texas and Florida. They were able to realize substantial savings in rent and taxes. Companies could pay these people considerably less than they would a worker residing in a high-cost city.
Within the last month, prominent business leaders, including Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, offered their employees the option of working from home “forever”—or at least for the foreseeable future. A large number of CEOs followed suit and offered this opportunity as well.
The work-from-home movement untethered people who’ve been confined to a place that only offers a reasonable commute to work. As employees are able to work remotely, they can now live wherever they’d like.
Many people took flight to places that offered more affordable housing, lower taxes, better weather, shorter commutes and a better overall quality of life. About 5% of New York City’s population, representing about 420,000 people, already moved out of Manhattan during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s highly likely that people will start moving out of the big cities. Watching the footage of the aftermath of the carnage created in Minneapolis is both heartbreaking and frightening. Companies will consider relocating their office buildings into the suburbs. It will be seen as too dangerous to remain.
With businesses financially hurting from the government-mandated shutdowns, exacerbated by the rioting that will keep retail business closed longer or completely drive them out of business, cities will see a substantial shortfall of tax revenue. With less money coming into the coffers, the cities will be forced to layoff police officers, firemen and teachers. This will further degrade the lives of people living there.
Taxes will be raised significantly on its already-overburdened residents to compensate for the loss of business taxes. With higher personal taxes, expensive apartments, the lack of safety and the fear of a resurgence of Covid-19, people will flee the cities to locations deemed more secure with a better quality of life. Those who are left behind will find themselves living in grimy, crime-infested places, plagued with virus outbreaks and violence.
This will push even more people to leave, creating a downward spiral for the viability and habitation of the cities and increase the populations of states that offer a higher quality of life.