'Happily Wherever'? If You're Working Remotely, Consider This Before You Move

On the new HGTV show, Happily Wherever, families who have the option to work remotely consider moving to another city to improve their quality of life. These families aren't alone!

One of the outcomes of the pandemic has been an increase in Americans working remotely, and for many, that means the freedom to live anywhere. On the new HGTV show, Happily Wherever, families who have the option to work remotely consider moving to another city to improve their quality of life. These families aren't alone!

Natalie Campisi, a mortgage and housing analyst at Forbes Advisor, says, “Data shows that remote workers are moving and one of the main reasons is affordability. We’re seeing people leaving some of the costliest cities, like Los Angeles and San Jose, to go to places like Boise and Phoenix in order to buy a home.”

But before you pack your bags to move across the country, we talked to some experts about what you should consider. While any move can be hard, moving and working remotely provides its own unique challenges.

Check Your Options

It may seem obvious, but the first step in making the move is sitting down with your employers and discussing your options. Arizona real estate agent Debbie Liu says to be sure to find out if leaving your city or state is even an option.

“Make sure to check with the employer if there’s a possibility of going back to work. If yes, it is not recommended to move too far from work; consider your long-term plans before making this big decision and change. Thus, it is important to be clear on your employer's remote work policy as it will play a role in the location you move to. Also, consider how a difference in time zone may change your schedule and routine. Most importantly, before moving to another city, take into account the costs, including fast and reliable internet.”

Consider the Needs of All Family Members

If there are children involved in the move, Carrie Potter, a licensed Mental Health Therapist Associate from Oak Harbor, Washington, says there are ways to help kids feel involved to make the move a little easier.

“Getting input on a move from the whole family, including kids, can help ease the transition. Although kids might not have the final say in where the family moves, giving kids a chance to be involved in the home search or even getting them excited about decorating their room (picking a paint color, for example) can give them a sense of control and empowerment that they may not have felt very much over the past year.”

Another tip is to scope out the new neighborhood to make sure that all members of the family are considered. For young children, this could mean spending an afternoon or a weekend, if possible, in the new city.

Campisi says, “If you have children, visit a park or the local library. Pay attention to the type of activity in the neighborhood--you might find that the community is tight-knit and active or that people keep to themselves; it might be noisy or very quiet, and it could be walkable or pedestrian-challenged. Whatever the flavor is, you want to make sure it’s something that appeals to you and your lifestyle.”

Create Work Boundaries in Your New Home

Because remote workers spend so much of their day in front of a computer, they should consider a rental or home purchase with a separate office space. This way, there is a clear distinction between work life and home life, and at the end of the day, they can close the door and leave work in another room. Experts also advise creating routines that create a healthy work-life balance.

“One of the hardest parts of working from home is the lack of separation between work and home life. Because those boundaries don't exist naturally, try creating some "artificial" boundaries through a "start of day" and "end of day" ritual. This could be simulating a commute by going on a walk to start and end your day, or it could be as simple as making sure you close your laptop at the end of the day to signal to yourself that it's now "home time" rather than "work time,” Potter says.

Be Intentional About Creating a Social Life

Working remotely can also make it hard to create a social life, especially in a new city. For young adults, in particular, many friendships and relationships are formed through work.

In order to combat loneliness, Potter says to be intentional about creating connections by getting involved in a religious community, a committee at school or volunteering at a nonprofit.

“It might sound obvious, but going where people are is the best way to make friends in a new environment. This might be in person or virtual, depending on the activity, but just showing up where community already exists puts you ahead of the game when it comes to meeting people. The families I see that seem to thrive after a move to a new city jump into community and connections as quickly as possible.”

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