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When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here?

Summary:
Coronavirus prompts Americans to reassess the need to reside near hot job marketsBy Rachel Feintzeig and Ben Eisen of The WSJ. Because of remote working, more people are deciding to live farther from work. The internet has basically lowered the price of living farther away from the office. So, ceteris paribus, more people are doing it. Excerpts: "The coronavirus is challenging the assumption that Americans must stay physically tethered to traditionally hot job markets—and the high costs and small spaces that often come with them—to access the best work opportunities. Three months into the pandemic, many workers find themselves in jobs that, at least for now, will let them work anywhere, creating a wave of movement across the country.Recessions tend to damp migration. Americans

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Coronavirus prompts Americans to reassess the need to reside near hot job markets

By Rachel Feintzeig and Ben Eisen of The WSJ. Because of remote working, more people are deciding to live farther from work. The internet has basically lowered the price of living farther away from the office. So, ceteris paribus, more people are doing it. Excerpts:

"The coronavirus is challenging the assumption that Americans must stay physically tethered to traditionally hot job markets—and the high costs and small spaces that often come with them—to access the best work opportunities. Three months into the pandemic, many workers find themselves in jobs that, at least for now, will let them work anywhere, creating a wave of movement across the country.

Recessions tend to damp migration. Americans typically move with a new job already in hand, and hiring plummets during downturns. The 2008 financial crisis limited Americans’ mobility because millions of homeowners found themselves underwater on their homes, unable to sell without taking a loss.

But this time might be different. Home prices haven’t yet taken a major hit. And the forces at play are novel. Confronted with the prospect of not being able to easily fly in for a visit with an elderly parent, grown children are suddenly questioning why they live so far away in the first place.

Many newly remote workers are finding they prefer somewhere closer to family or fresh air. Others are giving up on leases they can’t afford, chasing opportunities in states that are reopening faster or heading back to hometowns.

All told, at one point in April, Americans were relocating at twice the pace they did a year earlier, according to Cuebiq, a data firm that tracks movement via mobile phones. They continued to move at an elevated rate through mid-May. Cuebiq’s tally includes any trips away from home that last at least three weeks, so it also captures some temporary movement, like people decamping to vacation homes and students moving home from college."

"Telecommuting is fueling many of the moves. Companies like Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. are already declaring their monthslong experiment with remote work a success, giving many workers permanent permission to detach themselves from the office. Other companies that just six months ago would have scoffed at letting employees work from home are embracing it."

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