A moving truck came to Rebecca Stevens-Walter’s New York apartment this week.

But she wasn’t there to help pack boxes or supervise the crew.

In mid-March, the 39-year-old pastor flew to New Mexico with her husband and two kids. They left so suddenly they barely had time to prepare for the trip.

“We fled,” she says. “Our apartment looked like the rapture had come. … And we definitely had the conversation, ‘What if we don’t go back?'”

The streets of the city she loves — and many major cities across the US — are hauntingly empty as the pandemic leaves most of the country on lockdown.

It’s a chilling sign of the times, and one that brings to mind a big question: After the pandemic passes, will some people choose to leave big-city life behind?

That trend was already starting to emerge in some parts of the country, even before coronavirus hit.

Now the pandemic is changing the way we talk about life in big cities. And some experts say it could change who opts to live in them.

Stevens-Walter says her family does plan to return to New York. But others who recently left the city told CNN they aren’t so sure.

“It’s hard to think about living in New York when we don’t have our existence and our careers there,” says Ashley Arcement, a dancer, singer and actor who headed to a friend’s house in Florida with her boyfriend, a pianist, after Broadway shut down in March.

“Before this,” Arcement says, “we weren’t the kind of people who wanted to live outside the city and commute in. … Now it’s like, will it ever be the same?” 

…continues on cnn.com

This Article was initially published on May 2, 2020 at cnn.com

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