Remote Work and Real Estate: Trends and Statistics

remote work and housing trends


Many of the effects of the ongoing pandemic are no surprise—a struggling economy, high unemployment, and uncertainty for the future, among other things. But what has been surprising is the impact it’s had on housing all over the country. In tough financial times, a booming residential real estate market is anything but normal. So, what’s the deal?

It turns out that the mass move to remote work for more than half of working Americans has dramatically affected how and where workers want to live. Although the transition to working from home initially seemed temporary for many companies at the start of the pandemic, as months wore on, more and more companies decided to incorporate remote work into their long-term plans. And this has scrambled the housing market like never before.

The Remote Work and Real Estate Connection

At first glance, the connection between remote work and the real estate market may not be apparent. But, if you look closely, it’s easy to see just how interrelated the two are.

When you work from home day in and day out, your humble abode becomes that much more essential. Do you have space for a home office? Is it a place you’re happy working from 40 or more hours a week? And due to the pandemic, does your partner also have space to work? What about your kids? Do they have a spot in the house where they can log in to online school?

Between working from home and quarantining for the past several months, people are spending more time in their houses than ever and evaluating if their current home really is where their heart is. For many previously office-bound workers, it used to make the most sense to live near their employer, even if that meant paying the big bucks to live in a smaller home or apartment in a bustling metropolis. By living close to the office, workers saved on both commuting costs and on time spent traveling to and from work. It likely enhanced their quality of life, too.

Enter one of the major benefits of remote work. With jobs suddenly online, proximity to the office doesn’t matter! Not only do people not need to be in the same city as their employer to “commute” from their bedroom to their home office space, but they don’t necessarily even need to be in the same state (or, in some cases, the same country!).

Location, Location, Location

When location isn’t an issue, remote workers are free to search for homes that are more than just a place to rest their heads. Indeed, houses in these unprecedented times often need to be multifunctional quarters that incorporate many roles, including recreation, work, and education.

This sudden change in how we live and work has led to some people searching for new digs. Whether it’s an exodus from expensive, cramped quarters in the city to big suburban lots, or an escape to “Zoom towns,” those highly-desired remote worker communities that can’t keep houses on the market, location is everything in this new future of work.

Renters stand to benefit from remote work, too. According to Zillow, nearly 2 million renter households (4.5% of renters in the U.S.) who would otherwise be priced out of their current market could purchase a starter home somewhere else in the U.S. if they are able to work from home permanently.

Real Estate-Related Findings From Our 9th Annual Survey

FlexJobs recently surveyed more than 8,500 people for our annual survey. Here’s how they weighed in on working, living, and commuting.

While 61% don’t plan to move, more than a quarter of respondents (27%) are considering a move.

When respondents were asked why they wanted a job with flexible work options, work-life balance was the number one reason (89%), along with commute stress (49%), and family (45%).

Surprisingly, 20% of respondents have had a daily commute of more than three hours, and 37% commuted for 1-2 hours.

When asked about their living situation, 48% of respondents indicated that they own a house; 25% have an outside space, such as a yard or garden; and 25% live in or very close to a city.

Best Places for Remote Work

If you’re new to remote work and have learned it’ll be a permanent situation for you, perhaps you’re rethinking your living situation. However, there are some considerations to take into account before you pick up and move.

First, check out your state income tax liability. If your employer is based in a different state than you intend to move to, you may be liable for more taxes than you think.

Second, some areas are more conducive to remote work than others, so it makes sense to do your due diligence before crossing the state line. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) assigned work-from-home scores for  3,142 counties in the U.S. based on home affordability, internet connectivity, percentage of workers in office-related jobs, urbanization, and population growth. Based on their analysis, these states have the most work-from-home-friendly counties:

  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • North Carolina

NAR also evaluated the top work-from-home counties, and these are their winners:

  • Forsyth County, Georgia
  • Douglas County, Colorado
  • Los Alamos County, New Mexico
  • Collin County, Texas
  • Loudon County, Va.

Home Sweet Home

As more companies decide to extend remote work opportunities in the coming months, and as more people realize they’re not tied down to their locale for their jobs, the residential real estate market is likely to continue its shift. If you’re ready to hit the road, do your due diligence to make sure moving is your best all-around option.

Even remote jobs sometimes have location requirements, though. FlexJobs members can search for available remote jobs by state, jobs that are remote from anywhere in the U.S., or jobs can be done anywhere in the world.

Not a member yet? Learn how FlexJobs can connect you to remote jobs.


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