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Can your employees afford to live near where they work?

Photo by Linda Eller-Shein from Pexels

Randstad US and Apartment Guide, part of the RentPath network of brands, released in June results of a survey exploring how rising living expenses are influencing where and how people live and work in the U.S. and the impact this is having on their overall quality of life. The survey found that younger workers were particularly affected. For example, 50 percent of Gen Z employees say they have more than one job to supplement their salary, compared to just 28 percent of workers of all ages.

Living expenses outpace pay increases, resulting in more roommates and side gigs

  • Forty-four percent of respondents report their annual residential expenses (rent or mortgage, utilities and general household maintenance) increase more than their salary does each year. This increases to 53 percent for Gen Z workers.
  • Forty-two percent say they would not be able to live in their desired neighborhood if they didn’t earn at least $60K, while 31 percent say they’d need to earn $100K or more.
  • Thirty-nine percent of house renters, 38 percent of room renters and 33 percent of apartment renters have a roommate because they claim the cost of their home is too high for the income they make. Twenty-one percent say they need more than one roommate to afford their current rent.

Working from home gives employees more flexibility, but comes with downsides

  • Forty-four percent of respondents prefer working in the office because it’s easier to disconnect from their jobs.
  • Forty-three percent of Gen Z workers admit they get lonely when working from home, compared to a little more than a quarter (26%) of all workers.
  • Fifty-seven percent admit to doing household chores like laundry, cleaning or cooking while working from home, while 32 percent admit to getting distracted by the TV.
  • Twenty-nine percent have had a pet or child disrupt a work call.

“Tight budgets are nothing new for young people just starting out in their careers, but today’s increasingly high cost of living coupled with slow wage growth means that, despite low unemployment, millennials and Gen Zs are faced with at least two variables negatively impacting their financial well-being,” said Jim Link, chief human resources officer, Randstad North America. “Working from home can offset some of their transportation and living expenses, but it can also lead to loneliness and increased risk of disengagement. It doesn’t have to, though. Managers with remote workers can take steps to promote as much collaboration and face time as possible with teammates to combat isolation.” 

“Affordability is a major concern for today’s renters, whether in a big city or rural town,” said Emily Williams, senior data analyst for Apartment Guide. “Our data shows that average national rent prices have increased by more than 4 percent over the past year, but in some places, the increase is much higher. There are deals to be found in almost every city, but some renters might need to compromise certain amenities or locations, or even add a roommate, to live the lifestyle they want in areas where they want to be.”

Long commutes aren’t just time-consuming: they can affect mental and physical health

  • Twenty-four percent of all workers surveyed say they live far from their jobs because they can’t afford to live nearby; that number jumps to 43 percent for Gen Z workers.
  • Thirty-two percent admit to checking work emails, calls and texts while in traffic. Thirty-three percent of Gen Zers have gotten into an accident checking work emails while driving.
  • Twenty-seven percent say their commute negatively impacts their mood. This number nearly doubles for Gen Z workers (42%).
  • Thirty-seven percent feel commuting significantly limits time for activities like going to the gym, seeing friends/family and practicing hobbies.
  • Thirty percent often skip work or social events that extend after hours because of their long commute.

For more information on this study, plus tips to help you overcome cost-of-living talent challenges and insight into housing affordability trends, visit the Randstad Learning Center and Apartment Guide’s Data & Research page.