"The Big Move" is a new MarketWatch column on the compatibility of real estate and work-life.
Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Do you know where your next step should be? Email Jacob Passy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm a technician in Silicon Valley and my company recently told us that we can work remotely indefinitely. I love living here very much – including easy access to Michelin starred restaurants and outdoor activities like hiking and surfing.
What I don't love is the high cost of living. I make all the money and it comes down to rent and transportation and yes, to eat out. After everything that has happened in the past six months, I have had long conversations with friends about our future and our relationship with our work.
There has to be a reward for all those long days, right? I'm a tenant right now, but I've saved enough money to buy a house somewhere. I hate to go, but several members of my friend group have the same idea. We're done! My money would go a lot further outside of Northern California.
Where should I go?
Search and stuff over there in San Jose
Open Google Maps
and make your choice.
You are far from being alone when it comes to working from home more permanently. As early as May, big companies liked Twitter
– both run by Jack Dorsey – said they would allow many employees to work from home indefinitely.
A survey of more than 300 chief financial officers carried out by the research company Gartner showed that around three quarters of them plan to relocate at least 5% of their on-site employees to permanently remote positions following COVID-19. It seems that some kind of movement is going on.
The pandemic has forced many people to rethink their living conditions. With the prospect of working from home for many, many more months, big cities like New York and San Francisco are experiencing an exodus of people moving to the suburbs.
And even more people are looking for cheaper housing in the face of the economic downturn triggered by the pandemic. Even before COVID-19, expensive housing markets like where you live in San Jose saw people leave simply because it had to get too expensive.
Where did these people move to? An analysis of Realtor.com's listing view data found that 62.8% of the homes that buyers looked at in the San Francisco Bay Area were actually not in the Bay Area. Here are the top 10 counties with the most views from current Bay Area residents:
. San Joaquin
. El Dorado
. los Angeles
. Santa Cruz
Buying a home like this in the Bay Area of California can cost you an arm and a leg – but look further afield for many more affordable options.
"We're seeing a migration from San Francisco to what's called the North Bay, East Bay, Central Valley, and even Sacramento," said Scott Fuller, real estate agent and founder of LeavingTheBayArea.com, a real estate services company helping people move out of California.
"People feel independent and flexible and want a better quality of life," he said.
Many of the counties from Realtor.com's list – including Sacramento and San Joaquin– are in the Central Valley. This region has become increasingly popular in recent years due to high property prices in areas such as San Jose and San Francisco.
(Realtor.com is operated by News Corp.
Subsidiary Move Inc. and MarketWatch is a unit of Dow Jone, which is also a subsidiary of News Corp.)
Moving to this part of California has its drawbacks, however. "The most exciting thing you can do is go to Safeway, or maybe go duck hunting," said Pat Kapowich, a Silicon Valley real estate agent. "It's still a bedroom community – you have to get in your car if you want to do something exciting or fun."
"It's still a bed-sharing community – you have to get in your car whenever you want to do something exciting or fun."
It's kind of a resurgence of the drive-till-you-qualification phenomenon we saw in the pre-Great Recession housing bubble. Despite the long commute to work, people move to many cities in this region because they can afford to buy a house here.
For someone in your position who can work remotely indefinitely and in the Central valley could make a lot of sense. It's not a long drive to many of the amenities you love about where you currently live – the beach, mountains, and even Napa Valley wineries.
Also, you need to take into account that at some point you may want to change jobs – and if you do, your new job may not be remote. In theory, if you want to shop in this region, you can commute to a job in Silicon Valley if necessary.
Let's say you're tired of living in California. There are plenty of markets across the country to be happy in. Again, it should be considered whether the region has a thriving or growing technology sector. With that in mind, there are the usual suspects – places like Seattle, Denver and Austin.
But other markets that Fuller and Kapowich have identified as popular with their customers also include areas like Phoenix, Nashville, Raleigh, N.C., and Boise, Idaho. Even more places to consider Scottsdale, Arizona, Reno and Santa Fe or Albuquerque, N.M.
In most of these places, "you can get into a house that will be at least 3,000 square feet for $ 500,000 and less," Fuller said.
Do not miss:Not all of California's emigrants are moving to cheaper housing markets
Fuller estimated that around 80% of his customers who choose to make a full move outside of California are still stay west of the Rocky Mountains. "They have a family or something that ties them back so they want to be back to California by plane within a few hours," he said.
Some of these cities – like Seattle, Nashville, and Denver – offer plenty of dining, entertainment, and access to the great outdoors. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to fully reproduce the lifestyle you are currently able to lead in the Bay Area.
"Here you have all of these activities within a 90-minute drive," said Kapowich. "You can surf on Saturday and ski on Sunday."
Why didn't I give you a suggestion or two?
These are not normal times. Instead, I suggest that you reach out to your network to see if you know people who live in these areas and learn from them the honest truth about what lifestyle you could lead after you move. The pandemic is a time when we can and should lean on each other.
Take some time to narrow down where you might want to live, then fly out to see if your desired amenities are just a stones throw away. When you have close friends who have the same idea, you can creatively, if not financially, pool your resources.
It might be easier if you make some of these decisions together.