75% say they would consider relocating if remote work becomes permanent

For most remote workers, freedom to relocate anywhere in the world is a fundamental perk in the post-pandemic new normal of sustained working from home.

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Image: Ekaterina Pokrovsky, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Work relocation company Caprelo has published the findings of a study of remote workers, which include a preference among three in four respondents for being able to relocate, 59% of whom said they'd consider leaving for a different country. 

Conducted in March 2021, the survey findings echo much of what was already known about the state of remote work during the pandemic and the likelihood that it will continue to a large degree once COVID-19-related restrictions are lifted. According to Caprelo's numbers, 82% of employees have experienced some sort of workplace change during the pandemic, nearly a third have permanently transitioned to full-time work that will last beyond the end of the pandemic, and 8.5% said their employer has initiated a permanent transition to working remotely.

SEE: Wellness at work: How to support your team's mental health (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In terms of the future of employment, 65% of respondents said they would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant working remotely in a location of their choice, and it's not hard to see why: 57.7% say they prefer remote work to working in-person (compared with 28.4% who prefer in person), and the same percentage say working at home has made them more productive, while only 19.8% said remote work has cost them productivity.

An overwhelming 87.4% said that being able to work remotely would be a part of their future employment decisions, which basically means one thing for employers: It's time to start considering remote work as an essential perk when looking for new employees and trying to retain current ones. 

Being remote doesn't necessarily mean living within commuting distance of the office, which is another thing that companies will need to consider when looking for good candidates. With 75% considering relocation if post-pandemic remote work continues, truly decentralized businesses could become, if not the norm, then at the very least expected by potential employees.

In terms of reasons to relocate for remote work, 64% say an affordable cost of living is the primary reason, while 51% said climate, 47% want to be closer to family, and 38% said they want to be somewhere with better access to hobbies and interests. 

Only 40.7% say they would stay within three hours of their current home, the rest preferring to move more than three hours away (28%), move within the same geographic region (16%), or move somewhere else in the world entirely (14.6%). 

SEE: COVID vaccination policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Of those considering leaving their current geographic region, Europe leads the preferred destination, with 28.7% saying they would choose to relocate there. Twenty-three percent said Asia would be their destination of choice and 18% say they would like to relocate somewhere in North America. 

International relocation, which 59% of remote workers said they would be interested in, was primarily motivated by potential life experiences, a better financial situation and exposure to new cultures. Nearly 60% of U.S.-based respondents said they would be interested in moving to another country, which Caprelo said was a surprising statistic. 

As a final note to businesses wondering about encouraging new applicants by providing the freedom to relocate, cost assistance is already being provided by 48% of respondents' employers, 31.5% of which involves rent assistance, 23% cover moving fees and 13.9% provide home purchase assistance. Despite nearly half of businesses helping with relocation, it isn't necessarily expected: 68.8% of professionals said they would still consider a move without employer relocation assistance.

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