Remote working fleeing to $70,000-per-month foreign resorts to avoid coronavirus lockdown
Many of the United States' wealthiest residents are biding their time in luxury resorts,
at the cost of $70,000 a month. They're taking advantage of remote working opportunities while waiting for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines. At the same time, many other regular Americans are leaving expensive coastal states like California and New York for low-cost rural states like Wyoming and Idaho.
During the first wave of COVID-19 lockdowns, the wealthy chose to weather the storm by bunkering up in their own homes. Others went on road trips and headed to their second homes in less densely-populated areas of the world.
In the United Kingdom and Europe, the rich are choosing to go to warmer destinations to escape the winter lockdown. According to Justin Huxter, founder of a U.K.-based travel company, some of the top destinations include Spain, the Maldives and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Americans have many other options, including Hawaii, which has eased travel restrictions, and South and Central American nations like Mexico, Costa Rica, Belize and much of the Caribbean.
"People with lockdown fatigue have realized they can continue life in places with a lot less stress and a lot more room to breathe," said Jack Ezon, founder of travel company Embark Beyond. His company has seen a surge of clients from the East Coast book long-term stays in luxury hotels and resorts in South Carolina, Florida and Caribbean nations like Turks and Caicos.
Meanwhile, Ezon's clients from the West Coast are heading off to Arizona as well as Puerto Vallarta and Cabo in Mexico. The main draw many of these clients want are great Wi-Fi and warm weather.
According to Ezon, the average cost of these resorts and hotels is $70,000 a month, with most clients booking two-to four-month-long stays.
"By October, people started to realize they'd be facing another winter in San Francisco with no restaurants, no entertainment, no offices – really nowhere to go. They wanted out," said Leigh Rowan, founder of a San Francisco Bay Area-based travel company. He said his clients are purchasing one-way tickets to work remotely for several months from five-star hotels and beachfront villas.
Rowan said his clients aren't planning to return until they get an assured vaccine appointment
Remote workers moving to rural areas and small towns
While many of the wealthy are busy lounging in luxurious vacation destinations, many more workers are fleeing to other parts of the United States, such as the workers from expensive California moving to Wyoming
"I never thought I'd see the day, but here I am," said Ty Lunsford, who moved from Thousand Oaks in Southern California back to Casper, Wyoming, where he was born and raised.
Lunsford is one of the thousands of workers who moved out of densely packed and ridiculously expensive urban areas like Greater Los Angeles. He, like many others, is moved back to his hometown where he is hoping he can raise a family. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he thought it would be impossible to keep a good-paying job while at the same time live in an affordable place.
"Instead of dealing with the high cost of living in Southern California, I can come back here and live near my family," said Lunsford. "So, I get to keep my job and my salary from there and live in Casper."
Lunsford said what he was paying for a nice, big house at the base of a mountain would only get him a "dumpy two-bedroom" in Thousand Oaks.
"The interest rate you're paying probably affects what you can afford more than anything," said Laurel Lunstrum, a real estate agent based out of Casper. "So, you can afford a lot more house with your money." Casper's interest rates hovered around three percent for most of 2020, which helped make the town attractive.
Lunstrum saw a 15 to 20 percent increase in people buying homes in Casper from out of state in 2020. Jim Edgeworth, another real estate agent, said people moving back to Wyoming made up around three percent of all his sales last year.
"We were careful," said Edgeworth regarding how he sold houses last year. "We had to change the way real estate can be done. People were buying sight unseen. We were doing walkthroughs with FaceTime and video calls. Even during the pandemic, people are still trying to buy houses."
Casper is not the only small town experiencing a sudden influx of Californians and New Yorkers. Places like Boise, Idaho, Provo, Utah and Bend, Oregon are experiencing similar booms
Boise-based real estate agent Stacie Herrig said the low home prices are the greatest draw, but many others are also leaving because of the conservative politics of these areas.
Herrig said Idaho was a particularly popular destination for "political refugees" who are unhappy with the "coastal liberalism" of California and New York. (Related: New York Exodus: New Yorkers leaving in droves due to crime, overreaching coronavirus restrictions and high taxes
"Their beliefs align more with Idaho," said Herrig.
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