In the Before Times, people had to make a choice: Squeeze into the chaos and energy of the city, or live large amidst the beauty and boredom of the countryside.

The pandemic led many to reevaluate this lifestyle choice, upending global housing markets. Prices skyrocketed and bidding wars abounded in the suburbs, while demand plummeted in many big cities. Now, those who can afford it want both.

In New York, one family is dividing their time between their Greenwich Village apartment and upstate home. About 800 miles west, a financial analyst is bouncing between his parents’ beach house on Lake Michigan in Long Beach, Indiana, and his boyfriend’s apartment in Chicago.

On the other side of the Atlantic, a real estate analyst is chasing a better work-life balance with his wife and kids by spending more days in their countryside home outside of Paris. A small business owner in Rome is renting out her apartment next to the Colosseum while spending time in her new house 40 minutes away in the Sabine Hills. One London apartment owner is saving money by splitting his time between the capital and the Cotswolds, in the rolling hills of south-central England.

“Hybrid living is the catchphrase of the day,” said Leonard Steinberg, chief evangelist of real estate brokerage Compass Inc. “The perception is that if you have a second home, you have to be a billionaire, but what we’ve recognized especially in the past 18 months is that it’s possible to have a small apartment in the city and a small home outside the city.”

Low interest rates on home loans, pandemic-era savings and a hybrid-work revolution have made it more feasible for people, not just the ultra rich, to live a dual lifestyle. That fundamental change in where and how people live stands to infuse second-home markets, once reliant on weekenders and seasonal visitors, with greater demand for restaurants, retail and other amenities that make urban dwelling so appealing.

Already, about 19% of respondents in Knight Frank’s 2021 Global Buyer Survey said they moved since the start of the pandemic. And there may be more to come: 33% of respondents said they were more likely to buy a second home as a result of the pandemic, up from 26% the prior year.

“With the rise of remote working, second homes or ‘co-primaries’ are becoming a viable option for more buyers seeking a better work/life balance,” the report said.

For the people who can pull off hybrid living, it’s a financial and physical feat. But mental health professionals say the supposed luxury of double living may be a stressor in the long term. Having to juggle multiple rents or mortgages and frequently schlepping from place to place can be daunting.

“There’s the pressure you need to go there,” said Sharon Saline, a licensed clinical psychologist in Northampton, Massachusetts. “You’ve spent this part of your income or savings on the second home—you want to make sure you use it or get your money’s worth.”

Two Of Everything
For Keri Cibelli, an environmental consultant in New York City, it wasn’t until the pandemic that she and her family began spending substantial time at their vacation home in Dutchess County, a trendy enclave along the Hudson River in upstate New York.

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