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  #21  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2020, 5:43 PM
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We will find a way out of the Covid problems one way or another. If Trump remains in charge we will have to wait for a vaccine/drug treatment, or we open the floodgates and get herd immunity via mass death ala 1919. If Biden wins the presidency, we'll likely start a large-scale contact tracing program to effectively isolate and quarantine cases before they can spread.

Regardless of what happens, the threat to cities and to human gatherings in general will eventually fade. Meanwhile, the huge threat to our climate from suburban living will remain a threat long after Covid is gone.

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Originally Posted by austlar1 View Post
The other lawyer and his fund-raiser spouse are similarly optimistic about remaining in the country and continuing their high earning careers. I am not sure what this speaks to in general, but I suspect there is a trend emerging from this work-at-home experience that will seriously impact demand for office space going forward in big cities and even in smaller cities.
This is a joke, right? Most office workers in this country don't have spacious second homes they can flee to. Most office workers, in fact, live in homes or apartments that were not designed to also be workplaces. I am lucky to have a 2BR apartment, more than many people especially in dense cities, but my girlfriend uses the second bedroom as her office and I work at a makeshift desk in our dining area. Not sustainable. If companies choose to continue WFH after the pandemic fades, workers will revolt.
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  #22  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2020, 5:53 PM
iheartthed iheartthed is offline
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Originally Posted by the urban politician View Post
July 07, 2020
Tech firm lists its whole Loop office for sublease
Snapsheet joins the growing list of downtown companies looking to shed space amid the coronavirus crisis.
DANNY ECKER



https://www.chicagobusiness.com/comm...ffice-sublease
This smells like a cost-cutting measure. That company seems like it's struggling a bit, based on their recent fundraising.
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  #23  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2020, 6:08 PM
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This smells like a cost-cutting measure. That company seems like it's struggling a bit, based on their recent fundraising.
That would be my guess. It may be possible to keep existing workers remote, but on-boarding new people is very difficult.

Anyway, more downtown space being available hardly sounds like good news for suburban offices.
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  #24  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2020, 6:11 PM
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Originally Posted by austlar1 View Post
I know two different high-earning professional friends (in their late 40s or early 50s) who hold partnership status in "Big Law" firms with offices in Manhattan. Both own beautiful homes upstate, one in Woodstock and the other in Columbia county. They (and their spouses) started living full time upstate at the start of the covid crisis. Each couple has now decided to give up apartment homes in Manhattan with plans to work full time from their country homes.
I call BS.

First, as someone well-acquainted with BigLaw firms, there is no such permanent remote movement. Law is a relationship business, and the BigLaw firms are itching to get back, as there's no way to cultivate the transactional relationships remotely. And NY BigLaw firms are finance-oriented, and finance is already partially back in-office.

Second, no one with kids is permanently moving to rural areas due to subpar schools. They aren't going from the best schools in the country to poor schools. There is nothing more important to these parents than their children's education, and the idea they're gonna abandon Dalton and Collegiate to go to a rural high school with backwoods kids, and kiss the Ivy track goodbye, is pretty outlandish.

Third, there has been no indication of heightened sales activity in prime parts of NYC. If people were serious about permanently moving to the woods, there would be more listings. Where are these homes for sale?

Fourth, weekend homes and environments were never designed for permanent living. They're on well-septic systems, on dirt roads, far from amenities, spotty electricity and internet, often snowed-in during storms. The idea that there's this whole class of people who, three months ago, preferred urban living, restaurants and culture, but now want to permanently live in the woods, far from anything, reliant on generators and satellite internet, is absurd. I could see a handful moving to Scarsdale or Greenwich, but no BigLaw partner is permanently moving to Woodstock.
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  #25  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2020, 6:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
I call BS.

First, as someone well-acquainted with BigLaw firms, there is no such permanent remote movement. Law is a relationship business, and the BigLaw firms are itching to get back, as there's no way to cultivate the transactional relationships remotely. And NY BigLaw firms are finance-oriented, and finance is already partially back in-office.

Second, no one with kids is permanently moving to rural areas due with subpar schools. They aren't going from the best schools in the country to poor schools.

Third, there has been no indication of heightened sales activity in prime parts of NYC. If people were serious about permanently moving to the woods, there would be more listings.

Fourth, weekend homes and environments were never designed for permanent living. They're on well-septic systems, on dirt roads, far from amenities, spotty electricity, often snowed-in during storms. The idea that there's this whole class of people who, three months ago, preferred urban living but now want to permanently live in the woods, far from anything, reliant on generators, is absurd.
I am only reporting what my friend tells me. He is a lawyer who mostly structures financing arrangements for large infrastructure projects. Most of his client interface is online or with video conferencing. He is not a rainmaker. I don't feel comfortable naming the firm in question, but it is a highly respected second tier Big Law outfit with about 700 attorneys with 20 offices in the US and overseas. I have expressed some doubts to my friend about the viability of year round work and living so far from the action, but he and his partner are quite taken with their 49 acres and luxurious home. They just installed an expensive generator system as a back up, so I guess power failures are not an issue. I suspect their long sloped quarter mile driveway will be a pain in the butt moving forward, but there you have it. My friend anticipates giving up his private office in town and using some kind of shared office space when he needs to be working in town. A few days ago I learned that an associate of my friend, also a partner in the same firm, is putting his apartment on the market and planning to make Woodstock a full time thing. I don't know what to think about any of this. My friend is quite cautious and not given to hasty decisions. He seems to have thought this thing out, and he insists that he has the full backing of his firm to make this decision. Personally, I think both parties will end up with at least a small apartment in town before all is said and done, but it does sound like his firm is interested in reducing its head office footprint.

Last edited by austlar1; Jul 7, 2020 at 6:40 PM.
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  #26  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2020, 7:12 PM
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Yeah, and I'm not saying what you're conveying is untrue, but I don't think it's representative, nor do I think they'll completely abandon metropolitan living if they remain with their jobs.

The schools issue is unfixable. The social and amenities issues are important to most. I could see some movement to upscale suburban environments, potentially, but backwoods living, year-round, sounds pretty implausible. The mountainous areas north of the City have harsh winters. And I don't see how someone who preferred urbanity three months ago, suddenly decided to go to the complete opposite extreme.
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  #27  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2020, 7:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Yeah, and I'm not saying what you're conveying is untrue, but I don't think it's representative, nor do I think they'll completely abandon metropolitan living if they remain with their jobs.

The schools issue is unfixable. The social and amenities issues are important to most. I could see some movement to upscale suburban environments, potentially, but backwoods living, year-round, sounds pretty implausible. The mountainous areas north of the City have harsh winters. And I don't see how someone who preferred urbanity three months ago, suddenly decided to go to the complete opposite extreme.
For once we are kinda/sorta in agreement. More will be revealed. Neither household has children, BTW.

Last edited by austlar1; Jul 7, 2020 at 8:18 PM.
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  #28  
Old Posted Jul 7, 2020, 11:07 PM
Emprise du Lion Emprise du Lion is offline
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Yeah, and I'm not saying what you're conveying is untrue, but I don't think it's representative, nor do I think they'll completely abandon metropolitan living if they remain with their jobs.
Not to mention all the trial lawyers, both civil and criminal, who need to be in fairly close proximity to the courthouses where their cases are...
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  #29  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 1:26 AM
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  #30  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 6:42 AM
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As I said to a colleague who lives in suburban London, who was happily telling us how little in his life has changed aside from not commuting: that’s because living in the suburbs is like being in lockdown with social distancing all the time.

No thanks.
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  #31  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 6:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Yeah, and I'm not saying what you're conveying is untrue, but I don't think it's representative, nor do I think they'll completely abandon metropolitan living if they remain with their jobs.

The schools issue is unfixable. The social and amenities issues are important to most. I could see some movement to upscale suburban environments, potentially, but backwoods living, year-round, sounds pretty implausible. The mountainous areas north of the City have harsh winters. And I don't see how someone who preferred urbanity three months ago, suddenly decided to go to the complete opposite extreme.
The only thing that may persist from this is part-time working from home. People who live in Westchester/Greenwich or Surrey might not take the train into Grand Central or Waterloo every day, but work from home once or twice a week, or during school holidays if they aren’t travelling, etc.

It won’t lead to permanent, full-time remote work, which most companies are realising is sub-optimal as relationships atrophy, and thus won’t obviate the need to live somewhere vaguely commutable. Perhaps some people will be ok with a longer commute if it’s 3 days per week rather than 5 (I’m not one of them).

As you say, it won’t change people’s preferences about where they live, though, so unless someone has been just dying to move 90 minutes north and now they can justify it as a slightly less frequent commute, nothing changes.

In terms of the commercial space - an employee that is in the office 3 days a week still needs a desk, and if anything CV19 will kill the whole “hot-desking” thing for a while, so I don’t see much if any reduced demand medium-term.
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  #32  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 5:55 PM
llamaorama llamaorama is offline
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If you could work from home part time, why live in a location a couple hours drive from NY which is pretty but which is also suboptimal(isn’t that region quite depressed economically?) in many ways while still near the city you don’t need to be close to?

A medium sized town, especially an old college town, be vastly preferable for someone who wanted a bucolic atmosphere but who wanted some services and amenities? Or just move to a different city that’s still urbane but not severely inconvenient the way Manhattan can be?
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  #33  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 6:29 PM
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
If you could work from home part time, why live in a location a couple hours drive from NY which is pretty but which is also suboptimal(isn’t that region quite depressed economically?) in many ways while still near the city you don’t need to be close to?

A medium sized town, especially an old college town, be vastly preferable for someone who wanted a bucolic atmosphere but who wanted some services and amenities? Or just move to a different city that’s still urbane but not severely inconvenient the way Manhattan can be?
I don't think any of these scenarios is broadly realistic (from Manhattan to backwoods, or from Manhattan to a random college town or smaller city), but the latter option defeats the whole purpose behind social distancing.

People are (or were) hiding out in their weekend homes to temporarily get away from everyone and everything else. Everything was shut down, and you weren't supposed to be around non-related humans. So hiding in a Catskills or Berkshires cabin makes a lot of sense, especially if you have kids, and there's no school and everyone is telecommuting. I don't see people making these homes their permanent residences, though.

But moving to an ostensibly vibrant college town or medium-sized city completely defeats the purpose. If you're truly fearful of transient social interaction, you derive no benefit to moving to such a place. College towns are generally transient, international and pedestrian-oriented. Medium sized cities have the same pandemic-related issues as larger cities. If you aren't scared of other humans, why are you moving in the first place?
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  #34  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 6:50 PM
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
If you could work from home part time, why live in a location a couple hours drive from NY which is pretty but which is also suboptimal(isn’t that region quite depressed economically?) in many ways while still near the city you don’t need to be close to?

A medium sized town, especially an old college town, be vastly preferable for someone who wanted a bucolic atmosphere but who wanted some services and amenities? Or just move to a different city that’s still urbane but not severely inconvenient the way Manhattan can be?
Because if you are working from home part time, but from the office part time, then you need to be in close enough proximity to wherever that office is.

Perhaps you would be willing to move a bit farther away, because a longer commute on fewer days per week means the same total amount of time spent commuting. But I think most people will still balk at the super-commute.
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  #35  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 6:54 PM
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As I said to a colleague who lives in suburban London, who was happily telling us how little in his life has changed aside from not commuting: that’s because living in the suburbs is like being in lockdown with social distancing all the time.

No thanks.
I live in suburban Houston which is far more spread out than suburban London and I can attest that our lives have drastically. Your colleague must be a hermit.
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  #36  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 7:45 PM
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Covid would need to drag into 2021/2022 or we get hit with a particularly bad flu season(s) on top for real change in urban vs suburban dynamics.
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  #37  
Old Posted Jul 8, 2020, 10:05 PM
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As a medical professional, I just saw a patient an hour ago who is 40, healthy, and has a family.

As soon as I entered the room he broke down into tears. He is terrified of returning to work downtown. He works in software and has worked remotely since Covid from his suburban home; his employer is now requiring him to return to his physical office. He is stressed, anxious, and has lost 25 pounds from this stress in recent months.

Sure, most people aren't as freaked out as he is, but welcome to the new norm.
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  #38  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2020, 5:58 AM
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As a medical professional, I just saw a patient an hour ago who is 40, healthy, and has a family.

As soon as I entered the room he broke down into tears. He is terrified of returning to work downtown. He works in software and has worked remotely since Covid from his suburban home; his employer is now requiring him to return to his physical office. He is stressed, anxious, and has lost 25 pounds from this stress in recent months.

Sure, most people aren't as freaked out as he is, but welcome to the new norm.
Can you put me on that stress diet? I could definitely use the 25 pounds off. I have gained 8 pounds since this started. Finally broke down and weighed myself the other day to see the grim news. Working from home means random foods/snacks are always around.
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  #39  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2020, 6:30 AM
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Covid would need to drag into 2021/2022 or we get hit with a particularly bad flu season(s) on top for real change in urban vs suburban dynamics.
My money is on a very mild flu season, at least in terms of deaths. Many of the upcoming season’s victims have already died.

But there is no “new normal” or “age of corona”. This drags on for a bit and then is forgotten, except for the changes that people like and will choose to continue if their employers/jobs allow.
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  #40  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2020, 12:07 PM
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If there were a movement to the suburbs, Westchester County would likely be the biggest beneficiary, as it is culturally/socioeconomically the most similar to Manhattan/Brownstone Brooklyn.

But sales volume in Westchester has plummeted to the lowest levels since the Great Depression, suggesting that the pandemic will not save the suburban housing market. And actually the leafier parts with more acreage have even slower sales than the more urban parts. The sales agents, however, are still claiming there's a hidden surge. I think they're probably full of crap:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/09/r...-era-lows.html

I could see increased volume for second home/weekend homes, even post-pandemic, as people who enjoyed isolation decide to buy a country home. But I think the idea that Covid will supercharge sprawl is essentially nonsense.
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