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Forecasting // April 6, 2021

The Rise of Urban Exodus

There is a new emerging trend that is reshaping the property landscape – urbanites are relocating to suburbs. According to Regus UK, this phenomenon is known as Millennial Exodus, or something we like to call “Urban Exodus”. This ongoing trend of migration is accelerated by the onset of the global pandemic, giving the property industry a major makeover. 

Here’s a breakdown of our analysis on why this is happening:

1. Growing Upward Social Mobility

Data has shown that Malaysians in recent years are having an improved quality of life with extra disposable income which has led to increased purchase of high-ticket items, especially properties. Many homebuyers are attracted to the houses in the suburbs as it is the manifestation of an everyday Malaysian’s homeownership dream – living in a large space with a backyard in a low-density neighbourhood. 

Unfortunately, that imagery of a perfect home is almost unattainable in the overcrowded city, prompting many to look for larger and more comfortable living spaces in suburbs. Furthermore, there is a growing need for a forever home. Married couples would have to be prepared to face harsh realities – keeping up with the growth of children, taking care of ageing parents, and that could mean upgrading their current home to a larger permanent living space to accommodate these needs.

2. The Millennial’s New Move

Millennials are often said to be vastly different from the older generations, and this is especially true when it comes to a millennial homebuyer. Today, the younger generation is spending more and saving less, all thanks to hefty financial commitments like student loans, car loans and all the other high costs associated with living in the urban city. Moreover, the majority of millennials are entering a new stage of life – starting a family, looking after ageing parents, saving up for their kids. The pileup of financial responsibility has turned millennials’ heads away from buying expensive properties in urban areas. Instead, the affordability that comes with suburban living ticks all the boxes for this generation of homebuyers. 

The “Millennial Moment” is slowly fading away. Although millennials played a large part in rapid urbanisation over the years, this generation is also paying the price with urban fatigue caused by the hustle and bustle of city life. The idealisation of the suburbs, or as we like to call it, “suburbia chic”, have led urban dwellers to flee big cities for the suburbs in exchange for greener pastures.

3. The New Normal

At the beginning of the 2020 global health crisis, shops and restaurants were closed to contain the virus, including the fancy urban amenities that make up the city experience. With everyone confined in their homes, the big city has lost its lustre. To make matters worse, a high-density neighbourhood combined with a small living space can make home isolation unbearable. Additionally, with remote work being a daily reality for many, urban dwellers no longer see the value of living in an overcrowded city.

The prevalence of stress and anxiety in current times is making urbanites reconsider city living. To cope with feelings of fear and uncertainty, city folks are looking to trade their small apartment in the city for a bigger home to be closer with their families. With larger housing options and affordability, suburban living is becoming an ideal option for urbanites to settle in with their loved ones.

Our Final Thoughts

The urban-to-suburban migration trend is here to stay. Today, more and more urbanites are choosing to live a happier and healthier lifestyle by relocating to the suburbs. The rise of the middle class in Malaysia presents opportunities for the property market to reinvent itself to keep up with the growing needs of the customer today and in the future. With that being said, the emerging mass affluent is a dominant force in the property landscape with their home-buying preferences. The paradigm shift in home-buying trends is a wake-up call for businesses to be mindful and prepared to evolve along with the market. 


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