A (Re)balancing Act: Why Many are Returning to the NYC Suburbs

Jan 24, 2024

When remote work boomed, we could live anywhere – but now, many companies want employees back in the office, and people are deciding what’s next.

The pandemic launched us all into the “great reshuffle” of where and how to live – and with remote work taking center stage, many left the city for spots they’d never imagined landing in. The remote work wave allowed many to dream big – why not move to a favorite vacation spot or a quieter rural area if the office was just a laptop away? Places like the Hamptons, North Fork, Hudson Valley, and even the Carolinas became more than just getaway destinations – they became permanent homes.

But now, many are heading back.

What a mass “return-to-office” means for former city dwellers

While many are still working remotely, we’re seeing a more traditional work model take shape in countless industries. With that, many families and professionals who left during the pandemic are moving back or closer to the area, with an eye on striking a balance between remote flexibility and in-office presence.

“Many employers are mandating people return to the office, at least a few days a week,” says Robin Hoberman, Suburban Jungle Strategist. “With that, many of our clients are reassessing their living situations. The charm of remote living is now weighed against the reality of long commutes and less time at home, and people are looking for that balance.”

For many, that involves weighing new considerations. Many couples who moved during this period, for example, did so with young children or started their families in their new communities. As these children are  approaching school age, finding the right community with the right schools has become a top priority. The question now is not just about where to work but also where to educate and support their growing families.

“Deciding whether to go during the pandemic was a big consideration,” Robin says. “And coming back is an even bigger decision since, in most cases, people are looking for a permanent solution. And we get it. We recognize that the journey back from these more remote spots is about more than a location change. It’s about creating a lifestyle that blends your professional life with family and lifestyle considerations.”

Considering the commute

One of the most significant considerations for many Suburban Jungle clients, Robin adds, is the commute.

“Balancing a manageable travel time with the desire to maintain some aspects of remote-town living is key. Our strategy involves finding communities that provide a sense of escape while still being accessible enough for office days,” she says. Other considerations that are top-of-mind for her clients?

1. School and community

For families with young children, the quality of local schools is paramount.

“We delve into school districts, considering not only their academics but also the general vibe of the district and the schools. To us, it’s about matching a family’s values and needs with the right educational environment.”

2. Lifestyle and long-term community

Choosing a new home is also about finding a community that resonates with a family’s lifestyle. Whether it’s a neighborhood with a strong sense of community, access to nature, or a vibrant local arts scene, our goal is to find a place that feels like a true home, today and tomorrow.

3. From Temporary Retreat to Permanent Residence

Many who moved to remote locations during the pandemic viewed it as a temporary solution or an experiment in lifestyle change. As we transition back to more traditional work arrangements, these families are now seeking a more permanent solution. For many, that means a place that offers the benefits of suburban living along with convenient access to urban centers, key amenities, and essential services and offerings – plenty of outdoor activities, for example, access to top-notch kids’ sports, foodie havens, and more.

“This shift back is not about returning to pre-pandemic norms but about redefining what suburban living means in a post-pandemic world,” Robin notes. “It’s about finding a place that offers space, vibe, and lifestyle essentials you need, without sacrificing the practicality and vibrancy of being close to the city.”

Coming back to the city – or looking for the right suburb to call “home?” Let’s talk! Schedule a free Suburbs Strategy session now

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