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Remote Workers Not Limited by City Boundaries

City workers often flee to the suburbs, and a growing number of remote workers are doing the same – but they’re heading to more affordable cities’ suburbs.

NEW YORK – More Americans with telecommuting jobs are choosing to leave the big city for a smaller, more affordable town, The Wall Street Journal reports. The growth of remote work opens up more options for employees when it comes to deciding where to live.

For example, Kelly Swift and her family left Los Angeles to move to a suburb of Boise, Idaho. She kept her job in health care information technology consulting – as well as the salary she earned in California – but Boise’s cost of living is about 35% less than Los Angeles, according to Bankrate.com.

This remote group of workers is “fueling a renaissance in U.S. cities that lie outside the major job hubs,” according to the Journal. “People who do their jobs from home, freelance or constantly travel for work are migrating away from expensive urban centers, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, toward cheaper cities like Boise; Denver; Austin, Texas; and Portland, Ore.”

But as a result, some desirable, low-cost cities are going through growing pains: namely, fast-rising home prices and traffic congestion. Additionally, says Sheila Smith, a real estate professional in Boise, remote work arrangements may become less common if the economy enters a recession.

As a result, remote workers “are not necessarily joining the workforce” in their new smaller metro homes, and that could have a dampening effect on local economies, Smith said.

Some regions are banking on growing their populations by attracting remote workers. Vermont and Alabama, for example, have launched giveaways to attract telecommuters. In Tulsa, Okla., some remote workers are eligible for $10,000 in cash to relocate there.

Many of the largest U.S. cities are still seeing population growth, but the rate is slowing, says Jenny Ying, a data scientist at LinkedIn. An analysis by the job-focused social network shows an influx of remote workers moving from New York to Charlotte, N.C., and Orlando, Fla. They’re also moving from Chicago to Nashville, Tenn., and Indianapolis.

At the same time, they’re leaving Los Angeles for Las Vegas, and they’re fleeing San Francisco for Reno, Nev. Seattle workers are increasingly moving to Eugene, Ore.

“The livability crisis of certainly the West Coast and some of the East Coast are clearly a pushing factor,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institute.

Source: “Workers Are Fleeing Big Cities for Smaller Ones – and Taking Their Jobs with Them,” The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 7, 2019)

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