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Remote Work Is Causing a Mass Exodus From Cities, Survey Finds

by Eben Diskin Nov 2, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a work revolution. Employers are finally realizing the benefits of remote work, and in many cases, working from home seems likely to remain in place even after the pandemic has passed. Facebook and Twitter, for example, have announced plans for employees to work from home for the foreseeable future and, in some cases, permanently. A new study released by Upwork, a freelancing platform, surveyed 20,490 Americans last month and found that between 14 and 23 million people plan to relocate to a different city as a result of remote work.

Adam Ozimek, the chief economist at Upwork, said in a press release, “As our survey shows, many people see remote work as an opportunity to relocate to where they want and where they can afford to live. This is an early indicator of the much larger impacts that remote work could have in increasing economic efficiency and spreading opportunity.”

According to the survey, about 20 percent of respondents planning to move currently live in a major city while 12 percent live in the suburbs. This potentially indicates a shift away from urban living toward a more rural, low-key lifestyle. People are also looking for less expensive housing, with 52.5 percent planning to move to cheaper accommodation than their current place of residence. People seem reluctant to stay local, with 54.7 percent indicating that they would move over two hours away from their current location.

Only time will tell how the pandemic affects housing trends long-term, but it makes sense that given the devastating financial impact of COVID-19, people would be looking for cheaper housing in less densely populated areas. Travel restrictions and restlessness may also be playing a role in motivating people to venture out of their local area.

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