Remote Workers Flee Urban Cores for the Suburbs

September 10, 2019

More Americans with telecommuting jobs are choosing to leave the big city for a smaller, more affordable town to call home, The Wall Street Journal reports. The growth of remote work is opening up more options for employees when it comes to deciding where they want to live.

For example, Kelly Swift told the Journal that a few years ago, she and her family left Los Angeles to move to a suburb of Boise, Idaho. She has kept her job in health care information technology consulting—as well as the salary she was paid in California. Further, Boise’s cost of living is about 35% less than Los Angeles, according to

A group of workers are “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 these 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 recession. Therefore, remote workers “are not necessarily joining the workforce,” which could have a dampening affect on local economies, Smith told the Journal.

Some regions are banking on increasing their populations by attracting remote workers. For example, Vermont and Alabama 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 cities in the U.S. 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. They’re leaving Los Angeles for Las Vegas, and they’re fleeing San Francisco in favor of Reno, Nev. Seattle workers are increasingly moving to Eugene, Ore., the analysis shows.

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

Workers Are Fleeing Big Cities for Smaller Ones—and Taking Their Jobs With Them,” The Wall Street Journal (Sept. 7, 2019) [Log-in required.]