The pandemic put the brakes on economies worldwide, but it’s also fueled a historic housing market recovery in some areas. Now that many tech industry professionals are working remotely, they’re leaving crowded cities and moving to “Zoom towns” (i.e., places in the U.S. with more elbow room than New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and similar urban areas).
Zoom Towns Will Define the Future of the Tech Industry
People who move to Zoom towns are drawn to natural amenities and a better quality of life. For example, the Hamptons offer homeowners a respite from the bustle of New York City. Between March and August 2020, housing prices in the Hamptons increased by 25%. Similarly, Truckee, a town near California’s Lake Tahoe, experienced a nearly 100% increase in housing prices during the same period.
Housing prices across the nation
These housing price booms might be exceptional — but the same trend is playing out to a less explosive degree across the country. Now that tech professionals are untethered from their offices; they’re leaving big cities en masse.
This shift will leave a lasting impact on the tech industry by redefining which states and cities are known as tech hubs.
What Makes a Zoom Town?
What are tech professionals looking for in a Zoom town? Tech professionals demand reliable broadband internet, and it might be the most important criteria.
Beyond a fast connection to the digital world, remote workers are looking for outdoor recreation opportunities (such as ski slopes, hiking trails, or biking tracks). Most individuals are leaving major cities with large populations — so they’re looking for small towns with great views.
Affordable housing is also important to tech professionals.
On average, the monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles is $1,900, and the median home value in California is nearly $580,000. Comparatively, a one-bedroom apartment costs just $975 per month in Kansas City, and the median home value in Missouri is only $167,700.
Tech professionals also want to live in towns with welcoming atmospheres that are close to large cities (but not too close). While the exact criteria tech professionals seek will vary from person to person, there is one thing that everyone is looking for by moving to a Zoom town: a better life.
The Benefits of Moving to a Zoom Town
Tech professionals didn’t pick cities like San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago because they were the most desirable places to live — those areas simply offered the best career opportunities.
Now that remote work is commonplace; it has resulted in a mass exodus from California and other overpriced states.
Zoom towns offer tech professionals way more location-based benefits, including:
• A Lower Cost of Living
San Francisco’s median home price was $1.4 million in March 2021, a 9.7% year-over-year decrease but still four times the national median. Zoom towns offer tech professionals the chance to live in less crowded places with much lower living costs, which means their money goes further.
• A Better Work-Life Balance
Working remotely from a Zoom town doesn’t require a long, stressful commute. Out of all the proven benefits of working remotely, the positive impact on an individual’s work-life balance might be the most important. Since they’re not wasting time traveling to and from the office, remote workers can spend more time on the things that matter most, such as their hobbies, family, and friends.
• Outdoor Amenities
Tech professionals who are moving to Zoom towns can better pursue their favorite outdoor activities. Avid skiers might consider Idaho or Wyoming, while people who love boating might pick Missouri or Minnesota.
Tech people in Zoom towns wand recreational opportunities
There are many up-and-coming Zoom towns across the U.S., so tech workers can decide exactly which locations offer the best recreational opportunities.
It’s not hard to see why Zoom towns are growing in popularity: They offer tech professionals more benefits than crowded cities — and they deliver those benefits at an unbeatable price. That’s why many areas are seeing an influx of new residents in 2021.
Changes in the Tech Industry
The tech industry is well-suited for remote work, which is why some companies embraced flexible working arrangements even before the coronavirus crisis. Since the pandemic, however, remote work has become the new norm.
And with tech industry professionals around the country fleeing major cities to pursue better lives in Zoom towns, there’s no going back.
Companies such as Coinbase, Dropbox, and Salesforce now offer fully remote work options, and about 50% of Facebook’s staff will be able to choose permanent remote arrangements moving forward. As tech professionals spread out across the country, organizations can expand their hiring regions and diversify their workforces like Square has been doing in the Midwest.
The Zoom town phenomenon has the potential to change aspects of the tech industry that seemed set in stone, such as the concentrated urban hubs on the East and West coasts. Now, tech professionals can call in remotely from more affordable locations. Organizations that refuse to offer similar flexibilities will be left behind as employees pursue companies that value their quality of life.
Image Credit: simon abrams; unsplash; thank you!