3 Factors Driving the Desire for Small Town Living
Big city living has its benefits, offering short commutes to work — often without the need for a car — and close proximity to highly rated restaurants, gourmet coffee shops, luxury shopping, renowned cultural attractions and more. But with more people shopping from their phones, cooking and baking in their kitchens, working from home and looking to socially distance from neighbors, it’s more likely they will move from urban, metro areas to smaller towns.
According to Redfin, online searches for small town homes spiked 87%1 in May when compared to one year ago. But, what defines a small town? In this case, it’s towns with fewer than 50,000 residents2.
People leaving major U.S. cities isn’t a new concept3, though. For example, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported a 9.1%4 growth rate in the outlying suburbs of small metro areas even before the pandemic hit.
This relocation has a direct effect on the types of homes consumers are buying as well as the appliances and products they want in those homes. Here’s what’s driving the desire for small town living and what it means for home design and appliance selection:
Housing affordability was an issue before the pandemic, and the financial uncertainty caused by coronavirus-related issues accelerated the need for attainable homes. Small towns give buyers the opportunity to get more bang for their buck than they would in bigger cities.
Building affordable homes also means being mindful about the types of appliances you include. According to a study conducted by the NAHB, consumers are most interested in products and systems that directly affect utility bills5 and indoor environmental quality. The NAHB also revealed that 57%6 of builders and remodelers ranked energy efficient products/systems as the No. 1 request they receive from homeowners. Coming in at number two and three on that list are products/systems impacting indoor air quality and water-conserving products/systems. The KitchenAidⓇ 44 dBA Dishwasher with FreeFlex™ Third Rack, for example, detects the soil level on dishes and optimizes cleaning resources accordingly.
City living is known for its dense, tightly packed areas with small apartments and close proximity to neighbors, and the pandemic has sparked concern about that intimacy. Having to shelter at home has increased the value of space and privacy, and instead of walkability, buyers want square footage. But in big cities, a spacious home doesn’t always fit the budget. The solution? Smaller towns.
Millennials7 are showing an increased interest in small town, suburban areas where they have access to larger, more affordable homes with space to raise a family, while baby boomers8 are interested in the same areas for a quiet, private retirement. More space gives both generations - as well as others in those life stages - exactly what they’re looking for:
- For boomers, that means increased storage space9 and a kitchen fit for a chef. Appliances like the KitchenAidⓇ Smart Oven+ 30" Combination Oven with Powered Attachments opens up new culinary possibilities and comes with interchangeable attachments to enable grilling, stone cooking and steaming.
- For millennials, that means private, outdoor spaces10 and low-maintenance11 appliances. For example, the WhirlpoolⓇ 24-inch Compact Electric Ceramic Glass Cooktop makes it easy for homeowners to wipe away messes.
Before the pandemic hit, most businesses had started experimenting with remote working, offering employees one or two days a week or a month to work from home. The stay-at-home orders that started in early 2020 changed that, forcing businesses to adapt to a work from home model. Some companies discovered that remote work can be managed effectively, making them question the need for an office space12 at all. This has decreased the need for employees to live close by offices and has caused a shift in home design, with home offices becoming increasingly vital13 among buyers.
According to Zillow, 75% of Americans14 who are working from home would like to continue remote work at least half the time after things go back to normal. For those able to continue working remotely, 31%15 would consider moving to a home with a dedicated office space.
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