Just before the pandemic hit this spring, Johnny Cruz and his girlfriend, Diana Yarmovich, moved in together, in a modern one-bedroom rental in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
Mr. Cruz was already working remotely, but the two had a tough time when Ms. Yarmovich began working from home, too. They swapped places between the bedroom desk and the kitchen table. Their rent hit $3,200 a month.
With mortgage rates enticingly low, they resolved to buy a home, but knew they couldn’t afford Brooklyn. Besides, it was hard to hunt in the city. “All the in-person showings were shut down,” Ms. Yarmovich said. “We defaulted to New Jersey, where they were letting you in for private showings.”
New Jersey, where they both grew up, was an easy fit, as friends had started relocating there. “We took an inventory of our friends and realized we’d gotten to an age where this had happened,” said