8 Million US Workers Live in Cities Where They Don’t Work

Blog posted On June 30, 2020

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Moving to a new home is often triggered by a major life event.  Maybe you are growing your family and need more space for children, or you’re retiring, and you want to downsize to a smaller home.  Another common reason to move was relocating for work.  In recent months, however, many companies have shifted to a work-from-home model to adhere to social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders.  This wide-scale remote work shift has proven that many workers do not need to commute to the office every day or even at all.  If companies continue allowing employees to work from home, many workers may no longer factor their commute into where they live or need to live nearby their office.  Could this remote work shift change where people live?

Zillow reports, as of 2017, 40% of US workers or approximately 8.2 million people lived in urban areas and commuted to non-urban areas for work.  In 20 of the country’s 35 major metropolitan areas, a majority of city dwellers commuted to suburban areas for work.  This trend is not limited to the younger demographic either, known for their preference for urban areas.  City dwellers 55-years-old and older are just as likely to commute to non-urban areas for work as those 29-years-old and younger. 

Although city dwellers may not immediately flee for the suburbs, the way we live and where we live may change.  If you’re starting to work from home more often, you may need more space or a dedicated home office.  If you previously lived in an apartment building or condo, you may wish to move to a townhouse or single-family detached home that gives you more space to safely social distance.  If you don’t need to commute to work every day, you may choose to move to a new city entirely.

The coronavirus pandemic has proven that many companies can shift to a work-from-home model.  In May, Twitter announced it would let their employees work from home “forever” if they wish.  Other Silicon Valley-based tech companies like Facebook and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) have also announced more flexible work-from-home guidelines through the end of the year.  In some cases, workers who choose to live away from the Bay Area may get a proportional salary decrease depending on the cost of living where they move. 

If you’re looking to move right now, you are not alone.  Record low mortgage rates have pushed many prospective home buyers off the fence in recent weeks.  Before you start shopping for a new home, get prequalified for mortgage financing.  You’ll be able to set a realistic budget, and when it’s time, you’ll be able to make a stronger offer because you’ve already started the financing process. 


Sources: CNBC, Zillow