Numerous studies have shown that working from home boosts productivity, and employees now use tools (like Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts, and Fishbowl) to stay connected, regardless of location. Thus, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is no surprise that more and more employees are no longer required to work in the office. And, given the increase in remote work, it is also no surprise professionals are considering moving to cheaper cities away from their offices.
As one Fishbowl user asked this week:
As Fishbowl, an anonymous social networking app for professionals, discovered this week, working from home does impact professionals’ willingness to pay to live in expensive cities. With hundreds of thousands of employees using Fishbowl each day, we decided to ask our community of verified professionals if they are considering moving to a more affordable area.
By surveying our users this week, we hoped to understand how the housing market might be affected by an increasing number of employees working from home. However, what we found shocked even us.
About the Survey
We wanted to quantify the impact working from home is having on housing. If professionals can work from anywhere, will they want to stay where they are? Or, will they elect to move away from their office’s physical location and to somewhere cheaper?
To better understand how working digitally will impact the housing market, we asked professionals their thoughts on the topic. We wanted to understand how many professionals are thinking about relocating to a cheaper city and if any had even done so already. Our question this week was as follows:
“Has working from home caused you to consider moving to a more affordable city?”
Professionals could answer with either “Yes”, “No”, or “Yes & I already moved,” and the survey ran from July 1 through July 5, 2020. Respondents included employees at companies such as IBM, JP Morgan, Facebook, McKinsey, Deloitte, Bank of America, Amazon, Edelman, Nike, Google, KPMG, and thousands of other Fishbowl users.
The Results: 47% of Professionals Moving to Cheaper Cities
The survey’s 18,000 responses reveal an astonishing trend: nearly half of all respondents are either considering moving to a more affordable city or have already moved. Overally, 41.43% of survey participants are interested in moving to a cheaper city and 5.84% of participants have already moved. Breaking down the data based on the respondents’ city, industry, age, and gender reveals even more startling information.
- By City – We broke down the data by the 50 largest US media markets ranked from highest, to lowest percentage of employees who answered with either “Yes” or “Yes & I already moved.”
The cities where the highest percentage of respondents reported a desire to move somewhere cheaper (or that they already had) were: San Francisco (59.09%), DC (58.74%), and NYC (57.90%).
The cities where the lowest percentage of respondents reported a move or their desire to move were: Houston (34.58%), Greenville, SC (34.58%), and Oklahoma City (25.23%).
- By Industry – Desire to relocate and reports of relocating also varied when the data was broken down by industry. Advertising and Marketing (57.44%), Tech (57.39%), and Consulting (51.66%) professionals were the most likely to have moved or to be interested in moving. Conversely, HR professionals (42.45%), Lawyers (41.77%), and Teachers (13.22%) were the least likely to have moved or to be interested in moving.
- By Age – Unsurprisingly, younger adults are the most likely to be interested in moving to a cheaper city. 51.89% of 21-25 year olds have been thinking about it or have already done so, as have a majority of 26-29 year olds (51.37%). Slightly older adults still reported wanting to move or having moved already. Of the 30-35 year olds surveyed, 50.32% reported an interest in doing so (or that they had already. Similarly, 49.77% of all the 36-40 year olds surveyed reported a desire to relocate or that they had already.
Perhaps most surprising was the responses of participants between the ages of 41-44 and 45 years and older. 31.46% of respondents in their early 40s and 27.72% of respondents 45 years or older responded that they had moved or want to move to a cheaper city. The percentage of people thinking about relocating or who have already relocated because of WFH is staggering even when we broke up the data by age.
- By Gender – 50.24% of men responded with a “Yes” or or “Yes & I already moved” to our question. By comparison, only 43.38% of women responded with these answers.
What Now: Relocation and the Housing Market
Last month, Zillow released a study showing that three million adults moved in with a parent or grandparent during the pandemic. 80% of these adults were Generation Z. Yet, as our survey suggests, interest in moving to a cheaper city spans generational boundaries. 50.32% of 30-35 year olds and 49.77% of 36-40 year olds reported a desire to relocate or disclosed that they had already. In the coming months, we will see the reality and ramifications of these numbers play out.
In fact, we already are. In June, the San Francisco Apartment Association released a survey of city landlords showing that 7.5% of renters have broken their lease. Already, as reported by Apartment List, rents are decreasing across the US.
In San Francisco, as CBS reports, renters are leaving the city or trying to sublet. This exodus will have a drastic impact on the city’s housing market.
Without action by landlords or the government, these trends will continue this summer and well into the fall. Yes, younger adults are more likely to have an interest in moving somewhere cheaper or have already, Advertising/Marketing and Tech professionals were more likely to want to move, and the data varied by city. Overwhelmingly though, the data speaks for itself. 47% of those surveyed said they are considering moving to cheaper cities or have already.
Even when broken up by location, industry, age, and gender, professionals have been impacted by working from home and have had enough of overpriced apartments, houses, and cities. Now, they want out.
Looking for More?
Here’s what else has been happening on Fishbowl this week: