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Reverse Migration: Moving to Cities While Others Flee

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John Pham is an insurance strategist who also runs a popular personal finance blog, The Money Ninja. When the pandemic hit, he owned a three-bedroom home in Lawrence, Mass., and realized he should take his own financial advice.

“I felt like it was a good time to sell high in suburbia and buy low in Boston,” he said.

Mr. Pham, 39, was a bachelor in 2008 when he bought his house, but in 2018 he met and married Maryna Stasenko, 35, a fashion blogger originally from Ukraine. She was eager to move into a more urban setting, and Mr. Pham, who has been working from home for the past year, was in no hurry to return to his hour-plus commute into downtown. He was tired of home renovation projects, as well.

“As a busy late-30s professional, you just have less free time to mow the lawn and stain the deck,” he said.

The couple put their home on the market in October 2020 for $280,000. Within a week, they had 16 offers, including an all-cash buyer who offered $320,000 with no contingencies. They accepted, and in February moved into a 1,300-square-foot condo in Boston with skyline and harbor views.

The city is still hushed from Covid-19, but they are hopeful that by summer, its restaurants, museums and attractions will spring back to life.

“My job is to look at what’s going to happen in the future and make my best guess,” Mr. Pham said. “By moving to the city now, are prices better? Are my predictions right? I think a lot of people who moved away from the city will think, down the road, ‘OK, now I have more room and I have that home office, but I really miss everything that a city like Boston has to offer.’”

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