Welcome to the Age of Nesting. The London-based Future Laboratory coined that phrase, noting that we’ve just emerged from “the largest home-working case study in history,” which will profoundly impact where and how we live. The Economist reported that moving patterns could be in for the greatest shift since the suburbanization of the 1950s.
Nowhere are people giving this more thought than here in Atlanta, a city that offers an especially wide array of living choices. It’s one reason our metro area has grown so rapidly—behind only Dallas and Houston in the last decade. But the plethora of options makes tracking significant shifts complicated. Harry Norman’s Todd Emerson told Axios Atlanta that, in 2021, the two metro neighborhoods with the highest home value appreciation were Kirkwood and Norcross. People are moving both in and out of the city. Apartment List Chief Economist Igor Popov suggests our nation isn’t so much experiencing an urban exodus as an “urban shuffle.”
Not only are we considering different places to live, we’re looking for different types of living spaces. Before the pandemic, “we were really on a downward trajectory, with people trying to build smaller, more efficient homes and well-appointed homes,” says Nicholas Brown, an agent with Compass real estate in Atlanta. “Now, I’m starting to see square footage sizes move back up again. People are willing to spend more than I’ve ever seen before to get exactly what they want.”
Outdoor entertaining areas have become a priority at all price points, whether that’s a wide front porch or a basketball court. “And you cannot even get an appointment with a pool contractor,” Brown adds. He’s finding buyers want to walk directly outside from the main floor, so daylight basements have become less desirable.
Brown says families are demanding one or even two home offices, not to mention homework rooms for the kids—all outfitted with plenty of charging stations and wireless technology. People are adding security systems and outdoor reception areas to keep deliveries hidden, sometimes even equipped with refrigeration for perishable Instacart deliveries. Because people are spending more time at home, they now prefer laundry rooms on the main floor. Brown had one client devote a closet entirely to paper products.