While every solopreneur is different, the vast majority of us simply don’t see the need to rent office space outside our own home. And the events of 2020 have only reinforced that decision. Even before the impact of Covid-19, there was a trend towards working from home across the globe, at least in countries where knowledge-based work is the norm. And it was already strong enough to influence the real estate market. The New York Times reported, back in September 2019, that the trend of working from home was affecting housing priorities in several key areas.
Now there are more workers than ever before working from home, and the trend will likely continue, albeit in a more flexible way, even when we finally get the current pandemic under control. The BBC has reported that many UK workers are loving the benefits of working from home, and aren’t relishing a return to the office. As for those of us who, as solopreneurs, were renting office space or maybe using co-working spaces, we’ve probably learned a whole set of new skills and techniques that let us get our work done without leaving the house. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention.
No matter how well, or badly, you’ve managed during this crisis, it will no doubt affect your future housing priorities. If you’re a solopreneur, or other now-working-mostly-from-home professional, who’s planning a house move in the near future, there are some things to consider that may not have been on your real estate list a year or so ago. Here are just a few of them.
Flexibility on Location
Working from home means you don’t need the expense of big city living, or even the restrictions of being within the commuter belt, unless there are other advantages to being there. Many rural locations have high speed internet now. There’s even a remote island off the coast of Ireland that’s hoping to encourage the work from home brigade to consider moving there. When you work from home permanently, you can be incredibly flexible on location.
Home office space
I’ve written before about how important it can be for a solopreneur to create a healthy, productive home office space. There are several options here. You may want to create your office space by dedicating a whole, self-contained room to work, or you may need to create a corner or nook in a communal room where you can watch your kids while you work. Increasingly, workers are looking for multi-purpose spaces, such as the ability to use part of a bedroom for work during the day, or have an office by day that converts to a den for the kids (or adults) in the evening. Whatever your needs are, you’ll want to be thinking about them as you view potential new homes.
A thriving local community
Lockdowns around the world have seen people confined to their homes for the majority of the day, but the future will, of course, look different again. Those of us who work from home generally want to be able to work from a local coffee shop or library when the mood takes us. We want a walkable neighbourhood, so we can pop to the shops, run errands, or simply get some fresh air during the day. Working from home is fundamentally changing the way we think about where we live, because we’re now potentially spending the majority of our time there.
A stunning Zoom background
Recent events have created a situation where colleagues and clients are virtually popping into our homes on a regular basis. It may seem shallow, but if you work from home and are looking at real estate, where to take video calls and virtual meetings may well be a consideration. I certainly won’t judge you if the words “this would be a great background for my Zoom meetings” at least cross your mind at some point.
A multi-purpose home
Staying at home more has focused us all on how important it is to be able to live life well in your own home. What that means is different for every individual. For many a home gym, or at least the space to do home workouts, is now vital. Others will care more about a child-friendly garden, a fabulous kitchen to bake in, a home workshop, or crafting area. Whatever you feel you need in a home, it’s likely you’ve had some time to think about it over the past months, and enough time at home to realise that having space for home-based hobbies can be an advantage.
There are some interesting opportunities in real estate right now, but plenty of opportunities to trip up, too. Commentators are predicting the possibility of a market crash, with all the pros (for buyers) and cons (for sellers and investors) that brings. If you’re on the hunt for a new home, think things through and do your research. Make sure you use a reliable mortgage calculator to ensure you can really afford your new home. And consider the elements of your home that will make it a great place to work, rest and live.
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