Where Are People Moving? Remote Work and Real Estate Trends

Women carrying moving boxes
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Perhaps one of the more surprising effects of the coronavirus pandemic is the impact on housing all over the country. In uncertain economic times, a booming residential real estate market is anything but normal. So, what’s the deal?

It turns out that the mass move to remote work for more than half of working Americans has dramatically affected how and where workers want to live.

Although the transition to working from home initially seemed temporary for many companies at the start of the pandemic, as months wore on, more and more companies decided to incorporate remote work into their long-term plans. And this has scrambled the housing market considerably.

The Remote Work and Real Estate Connection

Remote worker with benefits
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At first glance, the connection between remote work and the real estate market may not be apparent. But, if you look closely, it’s easy to see just how interrelated the two are.

Between working from home, doing school online, and continued social distancing, people are spending more time in their houses and evaluating if their current home really is where their heart is.

With remote jobs, proximity to the office doesn’t always matter. Not only do people not need to be in the same city as their employer to “commute” from their bedroom to their home office space, but they also don’t even need to be in the same state (or, in some cases, the same country!) depending on their setup.

Location, Location, Location

A real estate agent posts a for sale sign in front of a brick house that is under construction
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When location isn’t an issue, remote workers are free to search for homes that are more than just a place to rest their heads. Indeed, houses in these unprecedented times often need to be multifunctional quarters that incorporate many roles, including recreation, work, and education.

This sudden change in how we live and work has led to some people searching for new digs. Whether it’s an exodus from expensive, cramped quarters in the city to big suburban lots or an escape to “Zoom towns,” where we work has changed.

Renters stand to benefit from remote work, too. According to Zillow, nearly 2 million renter households (4.5% of renters in the U.S.) who would otherwise be priced out of their current market could purchase a starter home somewhere else in the U.S. if they can work from home permanently.

Real Estate-Related Findings From Our Recent Survey

Family moving
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FlexJobs surveyed more than 8,500 people for our annual survey. Here’s how they weighed in on working, living, and commuting.

When asked about their living situation, 48% of respondents indicated that they own a house, while 32% rent an apartment or house. Another 12% live with their parents, and less than 1% rent a guesthouse (like an Airbnb).

When asked if they would consider moving should they obtain a permanent remote work arrangement, nearly 65% of respondents said that they would move or that they would think about moving.

When we asked what factors would most influence a moving decision, the reasons included:

  • Better quality of life: 56%
  • Lower cost of living or housing: 45%
  • Different climate or better weather: 35%
  • Change of scenery: 31%
  • Closer proximity to family and friends: 24%
  • Access to better schools: 13%
  • Other: 31%

Where Are Americans Moving?

Millennial family packing moving truck
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2020 was a year like no other. And, perhaps not surprisingly, a study by HireAHelper found that more people moved in 2020 than in 2019. When asked why they moved, many people pointed to the pandemic (they felt safer elsewhere or moved to take care of family members). However, 28% moved because they started working from home and no longer needed to live close to their jobs.

As a result, some states gained residents, while others lost out. The 10 states that gained the most residents in 2020 were:

  • Idaho
  • Vermont
  • Maine
  • Delaware
  • South Carolina
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Iowa

And the 10 states that lost the most residents were:

  • California
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Illinois
  • Connecticut
  • Nebraska
  • District of Columbia
  • Minnesota
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana

Home Sweet Home

Satisfied homeowners insurance customers
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As more companies decide to extend remote work opportunities in the coming months, and as more people realize they’re not tied down to their locale for their jobs, the residential real estate market is likely to continue its shift. If you’re ready to hit the road, make sure moving is your best all-around option.

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