In July, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey that asked the following question: Would you prefer a community where homes are larger, farther apart, and farther from amenities, or smaller, closer together, and closer to amenities. The answer was 60% for the former and 39% for the latter. When they conducted a similar survey in 2019, before the pandemic, the numbers were significantly closer: 53% to 47%.
Because each of the two responses involves three separate categories, it may be difficult to tease apart which one respondents were most focused on, or if they were considering all of them equally. The survey didn’t ask that question, and it’s unclear why the three separate factors were lumped into one question. Still, we may be able to guess what changed since the pandemic. It’s already established that the advent of work-from-home has caused an increase in desirability of larger homes, with room for a home office, larger kitchen space, and additional personal entertainment space. For a time, lockdowns and increased reliance on delivery services also meant that people weren’t really going to stores or restaurants anyway, so they didn’t care how far they were. It’s possible that social distancing has conditioned people to want their homes farther apart as well, but this seems either unlikely or a negligible factor.