Gus Carlson is a New York-based columnist.
Carrie O’Donnell calls this a “young earthquake,” a newly minted term she uses to describe the sweeping change through Palm Beach and other Florida destinations that are popular with Canadian snowbirds.
Driven by a favorable tax climate, tropical climate, and remote working created by pandemic lockdowns, many areas in Florida have seen an influx of young families from high-tax, low-temperature locations in the US, notably New York, Boston and Chicago. .
These people are staying longer than the normal “season”, which runs roughly from late October to April, and demand more amenities and services than typical short-term vacations and retirees. Schools are full, grocery stores and restaurants are crowded, traffic is challenging, listings of homes for sale are short, and prices are high.
Canadian Joe Heads to Florida this winter for the first time since COVID-19 restricted cross-border travel, will see and feel the difference: It’s not your grandparents’ Florida.
The turnaround is so transformative that Ms. O’Donnell, a Palm Beach native who has owned her communications and marketing business for 26 years, is embarking on a new venture that she calls an extensive executive relocation and concierge services business. as described.
“I call it native intelligence,” she said. “People who move here don’t know where to find good doctors, dentists, realtors, vets, families with babysitting and other essential services. I have lists of the best of the best.”
As the immediate former chair of the Economic Development Council of Palm Beach County, Ms. O’Donnell is particularly upbeat about the influx of financial services firms, which have earned the area the nickname “Wall Street South.”
“It has been a steady march over the last five years, but COVID accelerated it,” she said.
To be sure, there has been a flurry of announcements from businesses in the Northeast about opening operations in Florida, taking with them executive-level jobs that pay executive-level salaries.
New York-based investment firm Goldman Sachs has leased 50,000 square feet of a new office tower in West Palm Beach, built by New York developer Related Companies. Other Northern financial services companies such as Elliott Management Corporation, Cirrus Capital, Point 72 Asset Management and mortgage lender Newday USA have also announced plans for new offices in the city.
Educational institutions have followed. The University of Florida recently unveiled plans to build a graduate school campus specializing in the types of business and finance studies that are aligned with new businesses coming to the city.
The changing makeup of newcomers has changed the way people live. They are looking for bigger homes with more amenities, not vacation homes.
Tim Givens, a high-end Palm Beach home builder for a quarter-century, says this change is reflected in the features people want in their homes: large laundry rooms, kitchens—family rooms, home offices. and gym.
“More people are coming here full time, so they need bigger homes, which most vacation homes don’t have,” Mr Givens said. “They are not retired. They have children and grandchildren.”
As a result, overflow is occurring in many schools. There is talk that two major independent schools in West Palm Beach are looking to expand and several well-known Northeast preparatory schools are considering opening satellite campuses there.
Golf, tennis, boating and social clubs are full and have waiting lists. Many people have drastically increased the membership fee to meet the demand, but the applicants are not deterred.
Samantha Curry, executive director of luxury sales for Douglas Elliman Real Estate and the firm’s third-largest producing broker in Florida, said the housing market is seeing its share of change.
Three-bedroom condominiums, which were once hard to sell, are now popular as buyers seek extra room for an office or gym. Neighborhoods that have generally not been seen as desirable are undergoing a resurgence as people look for places to drop off. And more buyers, including those outside the US whose travel has been restricted, are buying unseen properties.
Not surprisingly, an increase in demand has pushed up both prices and rents. Recent sales on the north end of Palm Beach Island show rates as high as $2,000 per square foot for non-waterfront properties. A new listing is asking this week for the 3,277-square-foot North End home 7.75 million US dollars. A two-bedroom, two-bath home in the area is rented during the season for $35,000 a month.
Ms. Curry said that while it’s common to get caught up in a competitive bidding process for homes in desirable areas, there are ways to get involved: Buy in the off-season and keep contingencies to a minimum. Many buyers, she said, are waiving home inspections to streamline the process.
The question on many people’s minds is: Is what is happening in Florida really transformative or is it a one-time pandemic? With offices and businesses reopening in the Northeast and elsewhere, some believe the newcomers will eventually move out of the state.
Estimates suggest otherwise. Florida’s population has grown by nearly 15 percent to 21.6 million over the past decade, making it the third most populous state after California and Texas. State analysts say growth will continue, hitting 23.1 million residents by 2025, the equivalent of adding a city slightly larger than Orlando each year.
“I don’t think things will slow down any time soon,” Ms. Curry said, at a recent meeting, with a senior colleague forcing the sales team to take more action: “If you think the previous The season was crazy, so get ready.”
Ms O’Donnell agrees. “I don’t see a drift back,” she said. “It’s a steady influx. The business pipeline is real. And young people are saying, ‘All my friends are here.’ When you hear it, something happens in it.”
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