As many of us took to the streets over the long holiday weekend, you may have noticed the return of neighbors not seen or heard from for an extended period of time. This reappearance of long unseen neighbors generates a not uncommon conversation overheard across many front lawns. It goes something like this: “Welcome back! Are you guys here for the rest of the summer?” The response invariably turns to something regarding the humidity and heat that overtakes Miami-Dade and Broward Counties this time of year. A quick glance at the weather forecast for Miami Beach at the time of writing this article showed 10 straight days of rain, thunderstorms and temperatures in the mid 80s. Contrast this with the current forecast for New York City and surrounding areas and you are looking at uninterrupted days of cool morning air with clear blue skies and warm sunny afternoons followed by peaceful evenings to close out the days. Spring in our area is truly something glorious and not to be missed.
It seems that the two-state living phenomenon is only increasing, especially since the Covid pandemic taught the retiree population the virtues of outdoor living. The northeast being too cold in the winter and South Florida being too hot in the summer creates a migratory pattern, not unlike the birds, where those fortunate enough to be able to split their place of residence can spend all year outdoors by chasing the weather.
As the Baby Boomer generation in Bergen County adopts this “multiple home” lifestyle, there is an unintended consequence. Usually one generation of homeowners downsizes, paving the way for the next group of younger homeowners. But given this new trend, many homes which would historically have been up for sale are not making it to the market, contributing another factor to historically low housing inventory. Yet I have heard many customers comment on how nice it is that neighbors living side by side can span decades and even generations. From one home welcoming newborn children to another welcoming grandchildren, the mingling of generations has always been an enriching part of communal living.
But is there a possibility of having our cake and eating it too? There is much talk of the suburban areas of New York and New Jersey increasing the amount of housing stock, by rezoning areas to allow for multi-family living in places which have traditionally shied away from it. This would have to be carefully thought out and planned appropriately, but imagine if smaller townhomes and apartments were available for rent and purchase within walking distance of our existing communities that many of us have invested so much of our lives in. Yes, a couple whose children no longer live at home and who spend half the year in some other location could sell their home, but with the availability of smaller multi-family units still have the option to remain in the neighborhood they helped build. This would enable new families to continue moving into the neighborhood, while those who have been here for decades, but whose needs have changed, would still be able to contribute and be part of their original cherished community. In the meantime, as our towns are at their fullest, with the return of the snowbirds, and before the mass exodus of the summer travelers, let us appreciate each other’s company in this beautiful weather.
Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V&N Group LLC, located at 1401 Palisade Avenue in Teaneck. Send your thoughts and comments to [email protected] or call 201.826.8809.