Housing Changes Accelerated by the Pandemic


Housing Changes Accelerated by the Pandemic

How has the pandemic changed the world’s living styles? In this week’s highlighted article, we’ll cover changes in the United States and the United Kingdom.

In the United States, the pandemic has led to an influx of people from major cities like New York and San Francisco to more spacious and affordable suburbs, particularly in the southern states of Florida and Texas. The trend of urban living had already been slowing due to factors like rising real estate prices and the aging of the millennial generation, but the pandemic accelerated this shift.

While there used to be more people moving out of low-income urban areas, the reverse has happened today, with more people leaving affluent areas. As a result, urban rents have decreased significantly. New York City’s property tax revenues are expected to drop by around $2.5 billion in 2021, indicating the economic impact.

Conversely, suburbs experiencing an influx of people are rapidly improving their infrastructure. Large companies are establishing offices, recreation facilities and shopping centers are appearing, and new apartments are being built with desk spaces for remote work. Even road expansions to tackle traffic congestion are being carried out. As a result, employment recovery in the suburbs is outpacing that in cities.

Similarly, the UK has seen a population shift from urban to suburban areas. People are seeking larger homes for their families, remote work opportunities, and more space away from neighbors. This has led to rent decreases in London’s city center apartments, while suburbs have seen rent increases of 15% to 20%. The popularity of the keyword “garage” in property searches during 2020-2021 underscores the suburban trend, as people look for spaces to set up home offices or gyms.

However, there are signs of tenants returning to the lower-rent urban areas as people start returning to offices. Will the changes in housing brought by the pandemic fade as a trend, or have they provided us with important lifestyle choices?

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Green as an Interior Element

I love having houseplants and keep various types in my room. I choose pots that match the plants and often visit flower shops and garden centers to find new additions. Each plant requires different amounts of water, sunlight, and has varying growth rates. Watching their unique growth is both a small pleasure and a daily routine for me.

Among my favorites is the fern plant, known as the “Hego.” Hego is a fern that stands upright, resembling a tree due to its erect rhizomes. It has soft, downy hairs on the back of its leaves and rhizomes, giving it an indescribable charm.

Greenery not only brings daily joy but also has scientifically proven effects. Resources like TEXAS A&M University’s Agrilife extension and Forbes Japan compile scientifically verified benefits of greenery. Placing greenery can enhance relaxation and increase levels of positive energy. People who spend time in green environments tend to build better relationships and enhance empathy, showing interest and empathy towards others. Additionally, being in a green environment significantly improves memory retention, boosting it by up to 20%.

Beyond psychological effects, greenery brings various other benefits. Indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air, but indoor plants absorb pollutants and can reduce mold and bacteria by up to 60%. Plants with high transpiration rates can even act as natural humidifiers.

With its multitude of benefits, greenery offers many advantages as an interior element. Exploring various types to match your room’s ambiance and environment can be quite enjoyable. Why not consider welcoming a new partner by the window?

Using Quality Items to Connect

While working on this article, I’m also preparing for my study abroad in Denmark. By the time this article is published, I should have set foot in the unfamiliar city of Aarhus. As my first experience living alone, and abroad at that, I’ve become quite conscious of my living space and belongings.

For a year in Northern Europe, I want to integrate the refined sensibilities of the local culture into my life to the fullest. Yet, looking at it from another angle, it’s just a year. I can’t imagine bringing back expensive, quality items to Japan after just one year. If they’ll become obsolete in a year, why not use cheaper alternatives? It saves money and time. These conflicting thoughts prompt me to consider if I can balance “using quality items for a long time” with “adapting my surroundings lightly to my lifestyle.”

When it comes to clothing, I feel I’ve managed this balance quite well personally. With the growing resale market, I’ve started to lean towards high-end vintage clothing instead of fast fashion. I even buy new items with resale value in mind.

Furniture resale, however, isn’t as prosperous as the fashion industry. Transport costs and logistics seem to be bottlenecks. Lack of strong brand presence in the furniture industry, unlike fashion, could also complicate furniture resale, as highlighted in this Fast Company article.

Despite these challenges, there are moves to unlock the potential of the $16.6 billion estimated used furniture market, such as emerging marketplaces like 1stDibs and Chairish dealing in high-end vintage furniture, and even IKEA’s efforts in furniture buyback and resale.

Choosing, using, and passing on quality items to others. The idea of C2C (Customer to Customer), passing from one consumer to another, and from cradle to cradle, might not be far off in the world of furniture selection.

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