Is Teleworking Changing How Renters Feel About Living in Cities?
August 18, 2021
August 18, 2021
Are you a renter in an urban area reconsidering your plans for renting, buying or relocating based on changes to your remote working situation because of COVID-19?
You're in good company. According to the latest Freddie Mac research, your work situation, specifically whether you are teleworking for the short term or permanently, is affecting housing preferences and plans.
Freddie Mac fielded a survey March 31 to April 11, 2021, to track attitudes about urban living and see if housing perceptions had changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With widespread telework during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was speculation that renters might consider leaving urban areas.
Our survey found renters' perceptions of urban life remain relatively stable, with two in five urban renters saying they expect to live in an urban area for three or more years. Nevertheless, there are some interesting findings based on renters' teleworking situations.
Looking at all urban renters, many believe their feelings about living in an urban area in the next six months will be unchanged from how they feel now: 56% report they'll feel the same way, 25% say urban living will be more desirable, and 19% say it will be less desirable.
The suburbs and the city have equal appeal as the next place for urban renters to move, with 40% saying they will stay in an urban area, 41% say planning to move to the suburbs and 18% looking to move to a rural area.
And when they next move, 59% of urban renters expect to rent their next residence, while 41% expect to buy.
We're referring to anyone who's employed and either currently or planning on working in an office three or more days a week — or who has never worked from home — as a short-term teleworker. Of those who responded to our survey, about 47% of all urban renters were short-term teleworkers*.
Living in an urban environment is less desirable in the next six months for 23% of short-term teleworkers, more desirable for 18% and 58% reported there will be no change in their feelings.
They also care more about the distance to their workplace now than at the start of the pandemic, with 23% saying it’s more important now, 15% saying it’s less important, and 62% saying the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed their views on the distance to work.
Further, short-term teleworkers are divided between urban and suburban areas for their next move.
Renters whose full-time remote work is temporary reported they are more likely to buy their next home than to continue renting.
We're referring to anyone who's employed and is currently or planning on working in an office two or fewer days a week — or who has always worked remotely full time – as a permanent teleworker. Of those who responded to our survey, about 22% of all urban renters were permanent teleworkers*.
Our survey found that 26% or permanent teleworkers feel urban living will be more desirable in the next six months, 20% feel it will be less desirable, and 54% say they will feel the same about urban living as they do now.
Compared to the start of the pandemic, 38% of those who will remain full-time teleworkers say the distance to work is less important now, 17% say it'’'s more important, and 45% say the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed their views.
Those working remotely permanently also reported that they are more likely to stay in an urban area when they next move.
Permanent teleworkers report they are more likely to continue to rent their next residence.
Overall, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, renters' perceptions of city life remain relatively stable, with 28% of those who plan to stay reporting that they'd rather live in an urban setting no matter what.
Learn more about housing trends that can add important perspective to your plans to rent, buy, sell or refinance with My Home by Freddie Mac® blog posts featuring research and analysis.
*Respondents to the survey comprised 800 urban renters. Of those currently employed, 373 were short-term teleworkers and 179 were permanent teleworkers. Not all survey respondents were currently employed.