“Zoom Towns” are defined by Bloomberg as towns where well-paid workers—such as corporate executives—flee to in order to work from a home with extra space and solitude. Lake Tahoe, the Hamptons, and Bend, Oregon are just a few examples. These Zoom Towns are seeing home prices shoot up as workers drain the housing supply. The Hamptons experienced a 25% home price increased compared to one year ago, and Lake Tahoe prices are up 50% from their lowest point this spring, according to Bloomberg. As a result, current residents may find themselves displaced as housing no longer remains affordable and urban dwellers could see their housing prices decrease.
The appeal of beach or mountain towns with built-in cultural amenities is obvious, which is why they've historically drawn tourists and college students. But a limiting factor for economic development and home prices has always been that there weren't many high paying jobs available. Virtual work changes that by allowing people to bring their jobs with them, creating the potential to reshape these communities, making them less reliant on transients.
But if virtual work holds the promise of a new wave of migration the way air conditioning allowed the Sun Belt to boom, a significant constraint is going to be how much these communities are willing or able to grow.