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As Social Distancing Continues, Homebuyers Increasingly Look to the Suburbs

June 12th, 2020 • 3 min read

Young couple unpacking cardboard boxes at new home - New Home Community - New Construction Homes For Sale in Parrish, FL

We’ve been hearing for a while now that Millennials are increasingly choosing the suburbs over the downtown living. What’s new, however, is that 2020 homebuyers across all generations are doing the same.

When social distancing guidelines began to take place in mid-March, homebuyers of all ages began re-evaluating what they had previously valued in downtown living. Suddenly the smaller square footage in exchange for shopping, restaurants, and entertainment at their feet seemed less important than a backyard, room for a home office and space to safely social distance.

A recent survey of 2,000 Americans by The Harris Poll revealed that nearly 40% of respondents who live in urban areas indicated the pandemic has caused them to consider moving to a less-populated area.

Many communities, particularly in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, and Manatee County, outside the Sarasota, Tampa and Saint Petersburg downtown areas, offer housing options that still offer the conveniences of city living, without the tightly-packed feel of a downtown environment.

One such housing solution is a master-planned community. According to the Urban Land Institute, master-planned communities in particular are desirable options for homebuyers. The large developments tend to offer a mix of pricing, design options, and square footage, which today’s homebuyers value. Many master-planned communities also provide access to the outdoors through trails and open spaces, such as those found at North River Ranch.

Example of Trails and paths in new community - New Home Community - New Construction Homes For Sale in Parrish, FL

Walking trails and plenty of outdoor space allow master-planned community residents space to spread out while social distancing (Example)


North River Ranch, for example, will offer the restaurant, shopping, entertainment, and amenity access that city dwellers are used to, but in a more spread-out environment that allows for larger homes and greater lot sizes. Residents can socialize and enjoy active amenities when they choose or take advantage of their spacious privacy when needed.

Located at the heart of North River Ranch will be a grocery and retail plaza, plus a Village Center. The Village Center plans call for retail, commercial, and office, as well as dining and entertainment. Both centers are convenient to walk or bicycle ride from the front doors of those who call the community home. A sprawling network of trails, playgrounds, AVID FitPods, and FitStations for outdoor workouts and game areas will extend the active options for residents, all without having to leave the community.


North River Ranch Phase I map - New Home Community - New Construction Homes For Sale in Parrish, FL

Development plans for Phase 1 at North River Ranch


While suburban living has its lifestyle benefits, the added convenience of remote work makes commute-time less of a factor when deciding to leave the city center.

The COVID-19 crisis has opened the possibility of remote work to employees who previously didn’t have the option. The Brookings Institute predicts the surge in telecommuting is likely to last well past the pandemic.

“During the crisis, up to half of the American workers are doing their jobs from home, double the rate in 2017-2018,” the study estimates.

Employees that continue telecommuting will need a dedicated space to work at home, a benefit that suburban living can more likely provide compared to dense city housing.


Bonus Room work from home - New Home Community - New Construction Homes For Sale in Parrish, FL

Many builder model homes include flex spaces, which can be used as a home office, homeschool area or second family room

Combining the extra square footage with the lack of a commute, prospective homebuyers are once again drawn to the benefits of suburban living. Those that choose to call North River Ranch home will still enjoy convenient access to downtown Sarasota, Bradenton, Saint Petersburg, and Tampa.

Given the shifts happening in our workforce, social lives, and housing priorities, it’s no wonder why U.S. homeowners are increasingly looking to the suburbs – and most especially, Florida communities.

Neal Land & Neighborhoods is a Manatee and Sarasota, Florida-based community and master land planning and development organization led by John A. Neal. The company incorporates smart master-planning and public infrastructure solutions to create the next level of elite community planning in Southwest Florida. By working with carefully selected new home builders, Neal Land & Neighborhoods aims to establish thriving, sustainable, livable, and ecologically sensitive communities throughout Manatee, Sarasota, and Hillsborough counties. Neal Land & Neighborhoods currently owns or controls several thousand acres of land entitled for more than 9,000 future residential homes and the supporting mixed-use commercial and retail.