The pandemic has changed the way we do a lot of things, and for many people, it has changed where they want to live.
"This was never our intention to be out here full-time," said Dave Lewis.
When the pandemic hit, Lewis and his wife made a huge decision.
"She got her work-from-home orders on a Monday. I got mine that following Wednesday, and we were on a plane out to Montana on Sunday," recalled Lewis.
They left their small apartment in New York City, a city with a population of more than 8 million, for his in-laws’ seasonal home in Seeley Lake, Montana, a lake town with less than 2,000 people.
"There’s just more space. It’s easier to socially distance, so health being the number one priority, we are able to be healthier here," said Lewis.
But Lewis and his wife aren’t the only ones who’ve decided to pack up their things for a change of scenery.
"The pandemic has really taught us all what’s important, and often that’s being closer to friends and family, or it’s a change in climate, and cost of living is really driving a lot of these personalized decisions," said Megan Slabinski, a district president with staffing agency Robert Half.
Slabinski says people are leaving more expensive places, like New York City, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and moving to places like Austin, Texas, Raleigh, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.
About 40% of companies are allowing workers to relocate permanently. Slabinski says the tech industry, where Lewis works, is one field where people have the flexibility to stay working remotely.
"Tech professionals, number one, followed by creative marketing and legal professionals that have that kind of anywhere work mentality model," explained Slabinski.
But Slabinski says now this brings some new questions for companies, like what does it mean for compensation in the long term?
"Do you set someone’s base salary based off of where they physically live or where the home office and headquarters are located," said Slabinski.
For Lewis and his wife, it’s something they’ll have to tackle, eventually. They don’t plan on staying in Montana for the long term, but they likely won’t go back to the big city either.
"I can get outside and go fishing in the afternoon if I want to and that would easily be a two-hour drive when I was in New York. So, I enjoy the inverse of getting the majority of the time to do what I want to do and back to the city for when I need to be there," said Lewis.