Amid the pandemic, Mark and Heather Gehan were longing to be near family. Living in the Seattle suburb of Renton, they were outgrowing their 1,700-square-foot home with two young children, and realized that moving to a larger home would be prohibitively expensive.
Both grew up in upstate New York where real estate costs are low.
“We evaluated our working conditions. We decided to do it, packed up and did it in six weeks. said Mark Gehan, 38.
With the encouragement and help of their families, the Gehns relocated their big-city life near Seattle to Brighton, New York, a suburb of Rochester closer to Canada than New York City. They were able to sell their Washington state home quickly, and profited from rising prices there. They lived with Heather Gehan’s family while they looked for a new home, and in 2020 bought a 4,200-square-foot home in a tony suburb with tree-lined sidewalks for $570,000.
The Gehns joined the millennial trend of moving to smaller cities. Millennials, people of the younger generation and people of the older generation are leaving the big city life and moving to small towns. Since 2014, an average of about 30,000 city dwellers between the ages of 24 and 40 have left the city per year, according to wall street journal,
The pandemic greatly accelerated that trend. According to cnbc, 32% of Generation Z people, along with 26% of Millennials, relocated during the pandemic. Reasons for moving include being closer to friends and family (31%), more affordable living (27%) or the ability to work from anywhere (17%).
For Gehan, it’s family first. His in-laws live in the same city and can help care for the children, while his mother and brother are less than three hours away in New York.
“Now we get to go to all the birthday parties and all the holidays,” he said.
Their new home is in a walkable neighborhood and provides a better lifestyle for their three young children, ages 7, 5 and 1, Gehan said. There are families with children in the neighborhood and a school is nearby.
Gehan negotiated a remote work position for a gaming software firm, as he was already working remotely during the pandemic shutdown, and his wife has been able to work remotely for a pet insurance company.
Reasons people move include education, affordability, and location. Gehan finds life in the Rochester area to be more affordable and convenient. Because of traffic and cost, going out to dinner used to be a rare pleasure in Seattle. Now, the couple can go to a nice restaurant without the hassle of traffic. They were able to obtain theater memberships that would have been cost-prohibitive on their budget in the Seattle area, Gehan said.
“Everything is five minutes away,” he said of the Rochester area.
even more Rochester area While there are more than one million people seattle area is more than 4 million. The city of Brighton, where the Gehns are settled, has about 36,000 residents. “It’s a city but it has a small-town feel,” Gehan said. “Everything is very simple.”