Almost 3 million adults moved in with a parent or grandparent during March and April.
JACKSON TWP. Kate Regas and Alex McEvoy were supposed to be in Greece this summer. Regas’ grandfather came from Greece and it was going to be a big family vacation.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. The trip was off. Regas and McEvoy, Ohio natives who live in California, decided instead to spend the summer with her family in Jackson Township.
They arrived two weeks ago after a cross-country drive with their dog, Piper.
"We thought we might as well come and see some family because who knows what situation we’ll be in come Thanksgiving or Christmastime," Regas said.
Avoiding infection was also on their minds.
"I would probably say we are safer here from transmission risk considering we live in an apartment complex in San Francisco with 30 to 40 people in it, seeing more people on the street, going out for more walks and stuff," McEvoy said. "Whereas here, we go out for a walk and we’re in a park with much fewer people."
Regas, 24, and McEvoy, 23, are not alone in seeking refuge back home during the pandemic.
Almost 3 million adults moved in with a parent or grandparent during March and April, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau survey data by Zillow, the real estate database company.
Eighty percent of those adults were ages 18 to 25, and by the end of April, a record 32 million Americans lived with a parent or grandparent, according to Zillow’s analysis.
Something similar happened a dozen years ago. During the Great Recession, a quarter of Americans aged 18 to 34 moved in with their parents for economic reasons, according to the Pew Research Center. They were tagged the "boomerang generation."
Not only has the economy suffered during the pandemic, with businesses closing to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, but social distancing concerns have led some people to choose to be isolated with, rather than apart from, their families.
Home away from home
Regas and McEvoy are among the members of the Buckeye diaspora who have returned to Ohio during the pandemic.
More than 200,000 Ohioans leave the state each year, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates.
But the exact number that have returned — at least temporarily — to ride out the coronavirus is anyone’s guess. State-to-state migration estimates for this year won’t be available until 2021.
Regas and McEvoy met at Ohio University and have lived in the Bay Area for two years.
Although 2,500 miles from home, they are still working. She is a special education teacher who instructs her summer school students via video. He has a job with Facebook.
Regas said she and McEvoy will probably return to San Francisco in a month or so, after summer school ends, but she’s still waiting to hear what the regular school year will look like.
Since returning to Ohio, they’ve seen a few friends, visited his family in Reynoldsburg and celebrated her grandmother’s 94th birthday, but said they are being cautious.
Regas said Ohioans are noticeably relaxed about taking precautions against infection.
"In San Francisco, you had to have a mask on," she said. "Here, it’s almost like people look at you like you’re doing something wrong when you’re the only one who has a mask on to pick up a coffee."
New York, New York
East Coast residents also are returning to Ohio during the pandemic, including those from hard-hit New York City.
The New York Times reported in May that 420,000 residents — 5% of the population — left the city during March and April.
The number of departing New Yorkers who landed in Northeast Ohio counties was a quarter of a percent, according to the newspaper’s analysis of smartphone location data.
Megan Lavins, 23, was one of them. She left her Midtown apartment two blocks from the United Nations and drove to her parents’ house in Hudson on March 15.
Like Regas and McEvoy, Lavins had planned to take a family trip, but when she got to Ohio, the state was shutting down, so she stayed here.
"There’s no place I’d rather be right now," Lavins said. "Until things get back to normal in New York, I have no real desire to go back, if I’m able to continue to be effective working from home."
Her daily routine in Hudson is close to what it was in New York. Take a morning run, then go to her job at J.P. Morgan, albeit from the dining room table.
She misses her New York running club and the big city’s speed and energy, but she is able to get bagels shipped to Hudson from her favorite shop, Ess-a-Bagel.
"I’ve now ordered four orders of their bagels for delivery here because nothing compares," Lavins said. "So, we’ve gotten my mom hooked on them, too."
As much as she’s come to appreciate the safety and sense of community in Hudson, especially during the pandemic, Lavins said, she would eventually return to New York.
"Being in my 20s, I think there’s no better place to really live and adventure," she said.
Ben Patterson, 41, can relate.
"I love New York," he said. "It’s an amazing city. The energy here is incredible. The diversity. The arts scene. All of it, I really love it."
Patterson, an Alliance native, is founder and chief creative of Onslot, a New York-based creative agency and production company that counts Allure, Clinique, iHeartRadio and Steve Madden among its clients. Patterson also has directed two documentary films.
He said the pandemic brought many parts of the intense, fast-paced city to a halt and it’s hard to know how many changes will be permanent; the pandemic, as horrible as it has been, also has brought residents together around a common cause.
"I’ve been here for the long haul," Patterson said, but now he’s looking to move to Los Angeles, where he can pursue more feature film and television projects.
"For me, it’s just an incredible opportunity to reset," he said. "It’s been 15 years of constant, non-stop work and hustle here in New York. And I’m leaving with my business partner still here, our office still intact and work still happening that ultimately I’ll have to come back for."
Before heading to L.A., Patterson plans to take a road trip with his dog, Prince, and spend some time in Alliance.
California is seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, so he might be in Ohio for a number of months, time he can use to read, get involved in the community "and take in where I’m from and how it’s changed."
"I’m never really leaving New York," Patterson said. "I’ll always call this home, aside from Alliance, Ohio, of course."
Reach Shane at firstname.lastname@example.org
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