Thanks to remote working, homeowners and renters don’t have to worry about living close to the workplace anymore. Free to roam, many are now able to put importance on different factors in their home search.

In a recent survey, homeowners considered the biggest factors when deciding where to move and:

  • 50% of homeowners chose crime/safety;
  • 43% of homeowners chose cost of living;
  • 43% of homeowners chose school quality;
  • 34% of homeowners chose taxes;
  • 26% of homeowners chose climate change; and
  • 24% of homeowners chose racial diversity.

This is according to an August 2021 Redfin survey of over 1,000 U.S. residents who have moved to a new home since the outset of the pandemic.

Renters also considered the biggest factors when deciding where to move and:

  • 40% of renters chose cost of living;
  • 35% of renters chose crime/safety;
  • 22% of renters chose school quality;
  • 13% of renters chose taxes;
  • 12% of renters chose racial diversity; and
  • 10% of renters chose climate change.

When it comes to choosing what area to live in, the priorities of homeowners’ verses renters are different, and for good reasons too.

Homeowners chose crime and safety, cost of living, and school quality as the top three factors when deciding where to move. These factors makes sense since this homeownership is a long-term commitment. Where you choose to go is where you’re going to stay, so the environment needs to be safe enough to live in, especially if one chooses to raise kids.

Renters on the other hand easily get up and move all the time due to various reasons like income changes, new job acquisition, or their rent increasing. Cost of living becomes first priority because when one’s budget is at renter-level, things like climate change fall to the bottom of the list as inconsequential.

Further, due to remote working, many homeowners and renters aren’t tied down anymore to the city, or even the state where their workplace is located. These households are free, with the permission of their employer, to work anywhere from the comfort of their homes.

For real estate professionals, this means taking into consideration their clients changing migrations patterns.

Homeowners and renters migrate elsewhere

Above all else, homeowners consider crime and safety as the most important factor in deciding where to move. Over the last three decades, the crime rate in the U.S. has actually significantly decreased, only recently spiking in 2020, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This increase in crime is mainly due to economic pressure created by the pandemic and the 2020 recession hangover. Homelessness in California has also increased at a significant pace, especially in California, worsened by the recession. Homeowners working remotely have the opportunity to escape now quite literally. For their peace of mind, homeowners are moving out of dense areas of increasing crime to suburban or even rural areas.

As for renters, they consider the cost of living as the most important factor when deciding where to move. This is a necessity, since the typical U.S. renter household is now spending 30.3% of its income on rent, which is over the 30% threshold at which a household is considered rent burdened.

What with stagnant wages, this statistic doesn’t look to be easing up any time soon. If renters ever want the ability to save up to become first-time homebuyers, they can’t afford the privilege of putting their safety first when choosing where to live. A suitable cost of living is a priority, leaving some renters with the only option to live in high-crime areas.

As long as remote working trends up, we’ll see the homeowner and renter shuffle continue, as households of all types seek that ideal low-crime, low-cost neighborhood. But with today’s low inventory and high prices, it’s not the most opportune time to be a renter or a homebuyer.

Remote working isn’t going away any time soon, so agents need to be aware of their remote client’s migrations patterns and adjust their focus accordingly.

Related article: Remote working shifts homebuyer preferences