As we cautiously put the pandemic in the rearview, companies are increasingly calling on remote workers to return to the office. This has resulted in a bit of backlash among those who enjoyed their morning commute from the bedroom to the living room — but it’s also causing some serious problems for entire communities across the United States.
A temporary boom
When employees were free to telecommute, many of them decided to change things up by moving to rural communities where the costs were lower and the pace was slower. This worked out pretty well for everyone involved until these newcomers left as quickly as they arrived.
Now, places like Springdale, Utah, are left holding the bag.
Due to the unprecedented interest in housing within this small community and others like it, the cost of housing skyrocketed and available units quickly became scarce.
In less than three years, the cost of a new home grew by nearly 60% as people bought second residences and investors bought up property to turn them into rental homes.
Mayor Barbara Bruno said that even among those who can afford the prices, “there’s nothing to buy.”
A prolonged bust
Towns like Springdale — and more notably, rural communities such as Aspen, Colorado, and Jackson, Wyoming — have long relied on low-wage hospitality workers to cater to visitors and those passing through on their way to other destinations.
As remote workers congregated in these towns during the pandemic, they in turn priced out many of those people who made their way of life possible.
Along with return-to-the-office orders, Americans’ desire to explore nature, which spiked during the pandemic, is now on the decline.
University of Utah professor Danya Rumore explained: “The pandemic really hit the gas pedal on what was already happening” and “expedited this trend by 15 years.”