Remote workers moving to new regions did so for a variety of reasons. Some may be seeking a lower cost of living, while others want wide open spaces and warm weather year-round.
But as cities continue to beat record-high temperatures, droughts are sweeping through much of the Southwestern U.S.
So why do remote workers continue to opt for regions on the brink of climatic ruin?
In the modern era where crises have piled on top of one another, one issue seems to drive many of today’s work trends: affordability.
Inflation has reached its own record levels in recent months, driving nearly the cost of everything to unprecedented highs. This paired with the shift to remote and flexible work models has upended today’s workforce, leading many to the South and Southwestern regions of the U.S.
However, research indicates that residents of “Zoomtowns” could be accelerating the likelihood of ecological disasters. In fact, affordable areas are at higher risk of natural disasters according to data from online realtor Redfin.
For instance, Phoenix ranked number 15 for telecommuters in 2021, and just so happens to be one of the cities most impacted by droughts. More workers in the region means more water usage, which limits availability in such areas.
In 2021, reservoirs like Lake Mead dipped to their lowest levels ever recorded. While it’s still uncertain whether remote workers have played a role in accelerating this trend, analysis indicates this is likely.
Research from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas showed that stay-at-home orders during the midst of the pandemic led to “significant increases” in residential water usage.
“As we build more houses and attract more in-migration, our net usage will go up because, at the end of the day, it’s just a numbers game,” said Nicholas B. Irwin, one of the coauthors of the