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Could Remote Work Be a Boon For Small Cities?

  • An analysis finds that the majority of people who relocated from a major U.S. city during the COVID-19 pandemic stayed within the same metro area
  • Trend could lead to zoning changes and stronger economic development in small cities and bedroom communities
  • Satellite offices could help companies support operations as hybrid work models become more common

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

One well-documented trend that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic was a considerable exodus from large cities in the United States, as workers adjusting to remote work found that they were no longer tied to urban offices and could relocate to a more affordable area. Recent research suggests that this trend could be an economic boon for smaller cities.

One analysis found that most people who moved away from large cities stayed within an easy drive or public transit ride of the metropolis. Eighty-four percent of those who left the 50 largest U.S. cities during the pandemic stayed within the same metro area, with 7.5 percent remaining in the same state.

This trend could spur the development of satellite offices in smaller cities and bedroom communities to accommodate workers as businesses increasingly adopt hybrid models mixing remote and in-person work. It could also lead to stronger economic development and zoning changes in these municipalities to meet the new demand.

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