I predict a rural revival in the US

Published on Dec 11, 2019

Last update: Dec 13, 2019

Are cities worth the cost?

Cities have long lured skilled labor into their clutches with higher-paying jobs. In recent years, the cost of living has risen so much in largest cities, people are starting to wonder if they’re worth the cost.

I’d argue that they aren’t.

Remote work and distributed workforces allow people to have the best of both world—the cheaper, more relaxed lifestyle of living outside the cities with the job prospects of living inside them.

This won’t be the case for all jobs. Some professions need to take place in person.

For the majority of us, though, I think the call to leave the city will be louder than the call to stay.

This trend has already started.

Tailwinds for rural America

Cost of living is significantly cheaper.

Travel to and from small towns is getting easier and cheaper (more local flights from within a two hour drive).

The FCC’s broadband initiative is hooking small towns up with gigabit internet, making it easy for remote workers.

Community, culture, and lifestyle you can’t find in the city.

I’ve worked fully remote for about four years. There are definitely pros and cons, but for me, the pros outweigh the cons.

Loneliness is a concern, but what if both you and your spouse work from home? That’s my situation and it works great for us.

What if your neighbors also work remote? I think there’s a paradigm shift taking place where the line between friend and co-worker will be blurred. Your colleagues will no longer be defined solely by who you work with, but also by who you work near.

Companies should embrace the shift

Do you want to lower your costs and have happier, more productive employees? Remote work is a great option. You can find studies on both sides of the aisle, but all of the data I’ve seen and deemed trustworthy has shown that, in general, remote employees are more productive and costs for the company are lower.

Perhaps the remote work experiment will ultimately shit course towards distributed workforces. For example, instead of having an office in New York with 1000 accountants, you’ll have 100 offices across the US with 10 employees each. When you hire someone, you give them the choice of office to work at.

You could adjust employee pay for cost of living in a way that the employee is better off compared to cost of living in the city, but you still net save money. The office space will be less expensive. And I’d bet that your employees would be happier.

Small towns are already luring high-skilled labor that can command the freedom to work from where they choose. In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before the shift becomes mainstream.

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