Whether you live in a rental or you own your place, since March 17, you have seen what is wrong with your current abode. How is that going to affect your decisions over the next few years?
When you decide where you live, you balance size, condition, and location against how much you pay every month. The bigger it is, the more expensive. The better shape it is in, the more expensive. The more popular the location, the more expensive. This means you can get more space, if it is in worse condition or a worse location than in prime condition and prime location. That is the basic way that effective house hunting works.
For the past six to ten years, there has been high local demand for residences that are easy commutes to Cambridge and Boston business locations. People were paying a premium to live in Cambridge and along the Red Line for quicker trains to downtown Boston.
According to this Boston Agent Magazine report, more of you are going to trade head for the suburbs, or even the exurbs (specifically Cape Cod) so that you’ll have the space you need for the next pandemic. The article postulates that people will be willing to move farther from the city to get more space for their money.
Does that describe you? Are you getting fed up with city and city prices?
Extra space, now in use: If you are over-housed, you have more space than you use on a regular basis. You may have chosen to buy extra space so that you can have a guest room, or you may have an empty nest, with grown children’s rooms now empty. Stay-at-home for you might mean that you recently set up offices in spare bedrooms. There’s an extra bedroom to do a family quarantine, if it is needed. In a big space, you also have enough bathrooms for 24/7 living together.
Just right: If you are right-sized, when the pandemic began, you found space to do your stay-at-home work. You had space where family members could do their work or recreation without disturbing one another. It might have meant setting up a standing desk on the bedroom dresser, or some other room doing double-duty. It might have meant getting the collected detritus out of the under-used home office in the basement or attic. If someone was quarantined in the master bedroom, the partner was on the couch. It’ll do. Or will it?
Small and barely acceptable: Your space is pinching; it’s too small. Each adult has a make-shift home office. One in the bedroom. One at the table. The children are in their bedrooms for work and making noise in the living room. The bathroom is the only place to make an important call. It “has to do,” but someone is unhappy every day.
Too small: Not enough rooms. No sound privacy. Nowhere to separate if one of you gets sick. One bathroom (and it’s the only place for a private phone call). Now is the time that you regret that loft apartment, open floor plan, or rooms that overlook one another. Everyone can hear one another all.the.time. This is not sustainable.
Small and solo: Other people’s noise and germs are not an issue for you. But how small is too small, when you are there 24/7? If you are working at home, and making masks, cooking, or otherwise crafting, do you have the space and storage to stay comfortable? If you are staying organized (or you could, if you tried to!), then your place is big enough.
Smallest: If you are a fan of the concept of tiny houses, has two months inside changed your mind?
We are hearing from friends, family, and clients about their space issues during the pandemic. I am posting weekly on topics about housing and living well. Send your questions to [email protected] or make a comment on the post.