A new survey suggests that nearly 19 million Americans plan to move because they can work remotely.
With the COVID-19 pandemic initially forcing many companies to allow employees to work remotely, 9.3% (18.9 million) of respondents in an Upwork survey said they planned to relocate. That compared to 6.1% in October 2020.
Upwork said 2.4%, or 4.9 million people, already had moved since 2020 because of remote work.
Even as the effects of COVID wane, many workers are being allowed to work remotely.
The societal change has resulted in higher home prices because many professionals are leaving expensive cities and moving to more remote suburbs and other areas.
Major cities such as New York and San Francisco, both with high costs of living and many jobs that can be done remotely, are the most likely to experience out-migration.
Upwork found that 28% of respondents said they are moving more than four hours away, with another 13% saying they were relocating between two and four hours away.
In 2019, the median worker lived within a half hour of his or her workplace, and 80% of people lived within 1.5 hours.
"The survey data suggests that we will see many long-distance moves as a result of remote work, but an alternative theory suggests that moves will be primarily from city centers to nearby suburbs within the same metro area," said Dr. Adam Ozimek, Upwork chief economist.
"A key assumption of this theory is that a hybrid work model, meaning one that requires some days remote and some days in the office, will predominate. This model would prevent people from moving farther away because they will still have some ties to the office."
While remote work will continue to affect labor markets and local economies, Ozimek said the survey results need to be taken in general terms.
"The number of people who have relocated is likely just the start of a larger reshuffle," Ozimek said. "While what people say they will do is typically treated by economists as weaker evidence than what people are actually doing, when looking at future intent we must take into account what is being planned.
"The evidence continues to suggest that workers do plan to move because of remote work."
The Upwork survey was conducted among 23,000 people.
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