Gensler Releases Findings of City Pulse Study

San Francisco, CA, June 6, 2024-The Gensler Research Institute has released its latest City Pulse study, which explores how global perceptions have shifted in 15 cities worldwide between 2021 and 2023. The report also further examines findings from six of those global cities-Austin, London, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, and Singapore-to identify how some urban centers that thrived during the pandemic are fighting to maintain their vibrancy, while others that struggled under lockdown are showing signs of resurgence.

The data makes one thing clear: the city is back. In fact, fewer respondents want to move to the suburbs or rural areas, and 73% percent of those who want to move intend to relocate to a city of some kind. The most popular destination is a city with more people, indicating that the draw of density has rebounded after a time marked by social distancing. “Urban life has pain points, but the desirability of cities is persistent,” said Sofia Song, Global Cities Research Leader. “Historically, we’ve observed this pattern of city life resurgence after major world events, and Covid-19 was no different. We’re once again at a significant turning point, where downtowns have returned to thriving centers of activity and people want to be a part of that buzz. Cities are back on the map as urban residents overall feel more positively about their neighborhoods - but urban living is not without its challenges.”

The City Pulse Retrospective takes a step back to evaluate the four key factors that attract people to cities or make them less likely to stay: neighborhood design, employment opportunities, “big city” problems, and affordability challenges. Overall, city dwellers feel that many aspects of urban life have improved since 2021. However, certain obstacles-particularly those around cost and affordability-have become heavier burdens.

The new survey’s key findings are identified below:

Urban residents are feeling better about their neighborhoods.

  • At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, levels of neighborhood isolation and crime levels intensified as cities around the world went into lockdown - but some of these concerns are receding. Residents of the 15 cities profiled in this data felt more positively about their neighborhoods and cities in the most recent 2023 survey than they did in 2021.
  • More people think that their neighborhoods feel authentic (66% in 2023 vs. 60% in 2021), beautiful (67% in 2023 vs. 59% in 2021), clean (65% in 2023 vs. 60% in 2021), and welcoming (63% in 2023 vs. 55% in 2021).
  • More respondents (60% in 2023 vs. 52% in 2021) feel that their neighborhood offers multigenerational housing options. And 49% of urban residents feel that their neighborhoods prioritize pedestrians over cars (compared to 40% in 2021).

Opportunities for employment and career advancement have increased for global residents.

  • Since 2021, there has been a 13% increase in people who feel that their career advancement has gotten better (40% in 2023 vs. 27% in 2021), and an 8% increase in people who feel that employment opportunities in their city have improved (44% in 2023 compared to 36% in 2021).
  • However, there are gender-related disparities. According to global sources, more women left the workforce than men during the pandemic. Our data shows this gap continues to persist.
  • Our data indicates that men are 1.4x more likely than women to feel that their career advancement and employment opportunities have improved.

Residents experience of “big city” problems is improving - but many people still feel their cities are too big.

  • Half of resident respondents feel that their cities have clean air (compared to 45% in 2021), and fewer respondents feel that their city is too noisy (44% in 2023 vs. 47% in 2021) or losing its cultural heritage (36% in 2023 vs. 37% in 2021).
  • Despite these improvements, more respondents in 2023 believe their city to overall be “too big” (43% in 2023 vs. 36% in 2021). Today’s city dwellers want to be located closer to work, errands, shopping, and leisure than they did before the start of the pandemic.
  • The increased desire for walkability that emerged during the public health crisis remains an important requirement.

City dwellers around the world are struggling with affordability challenges.

  • A volatile/uncertain global economy continues to align with urban residents reporting individual financial challenges. 45% of global respondents say that they are living paycheck to paycheck (an increase of 8% from 2021).
  • Additionally, 63% of respondents feel that living in their neighborhoods is not as affordable as it was a year ago (an increase of 8% since 2021).

For the full report for deeper findings related to Austin, London, Mexico City, New York, San Francisco, and Singapore, visit