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Renters search for more space as COVID leaves them working at home

David Lyons, South Florida Sun Sentinel on

Published in Business News

Many renters are ramping up their searches for bigger places after COVID-19 forced them to work more than a year at home.

Although workers are gradually returning to their regular offices this summer, many are still being allowed to work at home full time or for portions of their workweeks.

Since the pandemic struck down the economy in March of last year, some are finding that temporary needs for extra space are becoming permanent. Moreover, the allure of starting a new business from home has grown, creating a new reason for tenants to find more space.

“It does not surprise me that you see people renting bigger apartments,’' said Ken H. Johnson, a real estate economist and professor at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Business. “lnstead of one bedroom, they go for two; instead of two they go for three.”

A 569-city survey of 21,000 renters by RentCafe, an apartment search website, found that one out of three renters nationally want to “upsize” their apartments for business reasons or family growth.

Both apply to Susana Gonzalez Perez and her family of five. They are gearing up for a move to South Florida this fall from Palo Alto, Calif. She is a researcher and university lecturer. Her husband, David, is an executive with a startup technology company. They have three daughters.

 

“I need a dedicated space for working from home,” she said. “Apart from this, it has been really hard to have three children at home during the pandemic, homeschooling. I hope that it is not going to happen again this year. But we have learnt that it is important for each of the girls to have their own space.”

Even with a rented four-bedroom home in California, two of the girls shared a single bedroom. That’s because she and her husband “have a dedicated office at home shared by both of us. It is not a good arrangement because it is complicated to share when you have, for example, Zoom meetings.”

“That is exactly what we are looking for in South Florida — more space for everybody,” Gonzalez Perez said.

But the family won’t be buying a home when they arrive in Florida — homes are too pricey.

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