How largely does location factor into your job search? Whether you’re looking to stay near home, move to that city you’ve always dreamed of, or you’re willing to go wherever the jobs are, the destination matters as much as the journey.

In the COVID-19 landscape, more people are relocating for work than ever before. For many, it’s due to necessity, with massive layoffs and economic changes forcing departure. For others, it’s their decision, as the pandemic caused many to take a hard look at their careers and desired a change. Remote work options provided new living arrangement possibilities, too. Your job’s location no longer had to be directly tied to where you lie your head.

A mid-2020 Pew Research Center survey found that just over one-in-five Americans either moved due to the pandemic or knew someone that did. Young adults (ages 18-29) were particularly affected, with one-in-ten reporting moving due to the pandemic. This age group was particularly affected due to having the least seniority when layoffs came and university housing being shut down.

Neighbor.com believes this trend continued in 2021, but not due to safety concerns or layoffs.

“While 18% of respondents who plan to move in 2021 are able to do so as a result of job flexibility brought on by the 2019 coronavirus, most are ultimately doing so to lower their cost of living.” –Neighbor.com

In an attempt to analyze the post-pandemic migration landscape, we’ve looked at what Americans are looking for in their new homes and where the experts believe those qualities can be found.

What are people looking for?

For those seeking a change of scenery along with a new career, the first thought is often to ‘follow the jobs’ and move to a big city. Places like Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, and Washington D.C. surely have the most options available, right? However, that doesn’t appear to be the case in the post-pandemic economy. Job seekers looking for a new location have different priorities than before.

Extra Space Storage, which operates self-storage properties in over 40 states, found common trends in their 2021 clients, painting a clear picture of what today’s movers are looking for in a new home.

Unsurprisingly, the preeminent factor in a new location is affordable living. High unemployment caused a need to find more affordable housing, but even for those who kept their jobs, remote work allows workers to move to more affordable locations while keeping their same job.

Extra Space also cited an Upwork survey that found between 14 and 23 million Americans plan to relocate thanks to remote opportunities.

“Those with remote-working jobs no longer have to adhere to the high housing costs of massive labor markets, and a large portion of those individuals are taking advantage of the opportunity of less expensive homes.” -Extra Space

They also found many people wanting to move to less crowded areas to not only be spread out from COVID but also to have more space for their own benefit. Outdoor spaces such as large yards and porches and balconies are particularly appealing. This has led to many moving outside of the big cities and into the suburbs. Bankrate even found that 90% of movers relocated to the same county they previously lived in.

Where are people moving?

More affordable living costs, the rise of remote work being normalized, and the desire for more space seem to be the most noteworthy qualities people are seeking in their new homes. If people are leaving or avoiding the big cities previously mentioned, then where are people moving?

Forbes used data from United Van Lines, a large moving company that relocated 110,000 families, to find where people were moving and why. We’ll look to the top-five states people are moving to for work.

Forbes found that Nebraska was the number one state people are flocking to, and the Cornhusker State made their ‘Best States for Business’ the last four years. They cite Nebraska’s low business costs and business-friendly climate along with a low unemployment make the state attractive for both employers and employees.

Louisiana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Iowa made up the rest of the top five. While these states all had their issues, including lower energy prices, slow growth, and low retention rates, each one offered low business costs for employers and lower average living costs and more remote opportunities for employees.

In their own research, Extra Space found Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, North Carolina, and Texas are their own top-five states seeing massive pandemic-related growth. Again, lower-than-average living costs and more affordable business costs reigned, and these states are particularly open and spacious.

Wrap up

As the Great Resignation occurs across the country, there is a Great Relocation to match. We all know COVID-19 had a massive effect on the country, and we can see this in the number of people relocating as well as their new priorities in seeking a new home. Remote work makes it easier to choose a place to live based on its own merits over being close to the office. In an uncertain economy, people are looking for more affordable living costs and more space to live their lives. If you’re looking for a new job or a new home, this data should provide insight to help you make an informed decision.

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