Ever wished you could just get away from it all? Do you see yourself packing up your laptop, coffee maker, and heading for that perfect little town where there's no traffic?
You're not alone, my friend. With the prolonged life cycle of the pandemic, many employers have let their staff know that work from home will be a long term and often permanent change, which has created the opportunity for people to rethink where they live.
Zoomtown is the popular term for these growing communities and they can be found all over the country. The key factors of these meccas are low tax rates, affordable housing (not necessarily inexpensive, but better value for money than in urban areas), and opportunities to enjoy nature or quiet, that can't be found as easily in the city. High quality medical care and shopping amenities are usually also present.
One interesting point about this phenomenon is the reality that one person's small town is another's big city. For example, here in Texas we've seen a significant growth in Austin from California. Now, if you were to ask me, a Native Texan and a UT grad, I'd say Austin is plenty busy already, and plenty expensive, so no thank you. However, compared to the high costs to live in California, especially for business owners, Austin looks like a wonderful place to land.
In fact, according to LinkedIn's July Workforce Report, Austin is the number one Zoomtown in the country with the bulk of these new workers coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and the Big Apple.
Another observation is that natural urban development (and by urban, I mean city, not just a big city), tends to be a slower process, usually over decades, not within a few years. With this quicker paced exodus, smaller communities may not have the resources to quickly accommodate a big increase in residents when it comes to utilities, city services, or housing. Even in a small city, if the demand is high, and the supply is low, prices will rise. That's just basic economics.
So, with lots of people leaving the big city, does that mean the housing shortage and traffic and all those headaches will get better? Though I'd like to say yes, not all workers are able to be wholly work from home. I think traffic has the best chance of improving because larger companies are seeing benefits of working from home and many workers prefer the flexibility. If you could avoid a trip in to the office and get back a couple of hours of your day once or twice a week, who wouldn't want that?
In my personal opinion, the biggest change here will be in the thought process of people determining where they want to live. With more work from home opportunities, we will have choices of where to put down our roots. A lot of folks will stay put, enjoying their close proximity to all a city has to offer. Some will decide that a suburb is a good fit between work and personal time. But now, there's a third choice, and some will see that further out is another option that hadn't necessarily been available before.
Just in case you're curious about other Zoomtowns popping up all over the country, here is a list of the top 16 compiled by the editors of Retailmenot.com. (funny little fact here is that Austin didn't make this editor's list, but RetailMeNot is based in Austin....curious. Though Austin is actually a pretty big city on it's own so that may be why it didn't make the cut).
Cary, North Carolina
Thousand Oaks, California
League City, Texas
Sandy Springs, Georgia
If you're thinking about a move out of town, and have questions about the market, the process, or just want a knowledgeable partner to bounce ideas off, give me a call!
Until next time!!