can I keep working from home after my office re-opens?

A reader writes:

I’m a young professional who works with a major company making a very good salary for my area and age. I’m very lucky to have gotten this job, and I don’t want to leave it anytime soon.

Due to life circumstances I still live with my parents, and I haven’t gotten enough savings yet to move out on my own, even aside from the Covid situation. However, my parents are planning on moving within the year to another city.

I’m currently working from home due to the pandemic, but it’s been made clear that’s not going to be forever. Would it be weird to ask to keep working from home if/when the move occurs? I haven’t been working for the company for very long, but I’ve gotten good feedback from upper management and my team, so I’m pretty sure they would want me to stay if they could swing it. I’m pretty bad at advocating for myself at the best of times, so I’m not even sure how to approach this.

You can read my answer to this letter at Vice today. Head over there to read it.

{ 119 comments… read them below }

  1. What's in a name?*

    Wouldn’t you risk them seeing this as a potential indication that if they say no, you would leave? Since you would still be looking to move to the new city.

    That could cause them to push you out almost like if you told them you were searching for a new job. Maybe it is more of a concern if you are moving with a spouse than with parents, but how would you approach it in that situation?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I think if you approach it in a way that makes clear that staying with the company is more important to you than living in the new city, you can preclude that.

      1. Amaranth*

        Especially if its framed as ‘my parents/family are moving to x and if possible I’d like to stay nearby’ — it comes across more as supporting family than family supporting OP.

  2. Dave*

    I think distance from office to new city can also play a role, so that if there was the occasional meeting could you go into the office. I had a friend that had a WFH situation where they had to live with X miles of an office so that if you had to report in person or had IT issues it was manageable.
    The living out of state thing is huge for small businesses and you need to be super duper wonderful for it to be worth the paperwork most of the time.

    1. Weekend Please*

      I was thinking the same thing. Moving from Philadelphia to Baltimore would mean occasional in person things wouldn’t be too difficult while moving from New York to Austin would make in person meetings a real hassle.

      1. JustMe*

        It actually can be as the employer may need to then register with the other state for payroll tax purposes.

        1. Frank Doyle*

          Yes, and Alison covers that in her response, but this thread raises the possibility of occasional in-person meetings.

        2. Karo*

          Okay, then say Austin to San Antonio (1 hour, 19 min) vs Austin to El Paso (8 hour, 27 min). The point they’re making is that distance can cause difficulty even if the company is set up to work in both locations.

    2. Kippy*

      Yeah, my employer is going to be a lot cooler about folks working from home post-COVID but you’ll still have to live in the area.

  3. Spearmint*

    “Something else to know is that it can be more complicated for your employer to let you work from another state than people often realize.”

    So I know this is an issue if you are based out of another state, but do these difficulties still apply if you only occasionally work remotely from another state for short periods? Suppose I live and work remotely in California but have family in Arizona. If I decided to stay with my family in Arizona for three weeks in the summer and work remotely during the day while there, would these tax and regulatory issues still arise?

    I ask because I’ve at times fantasized about getting a 100% remote job where I would be based in one state but be able to go and stay with friends and family around the country for weeks at a time.

    1. RosyGlasses*

      No – the business doesn’t have to establish nexus if it’s a temporary thing because it’s based on your permanent address. But it is a HUGE pain to establish nexus in states and that is one of many reasons our company will not go to fully remote or approve remote work except in very rare circumstances.

      1. NW Mossy*

        I once had to turn down an employee to go fully remote for this reason, as we had no nexus in the state where she was looking to relocate. Her role was entry-level and it didn’t make sense for us to take on the added requirements in that situation.

    2. mlem*

      My company went with no more than two days of WFH a week for full-time employees in the before times; I heard that the theory was a matter of keeping the out-of-state work below 50% of hours within each week. I don’t know if that would apply to all states or just our New England ones, or if other companies would make other determinations, and so on, but it’s a data point.

      1. SLR*

        Good to know! I currently live in Massachusetts and work for a very large employer here, and I’ve been looking at moving to New Hampshire. I have been working remotely from home (in MA) since March and they have not given us any date or indication as to when we are expected to return to the office. I have many co-workers who live in Rhode Island and they’ve been working from home as well, and I’m not aware of anything special that they’ve had to fill out or run by HR. My management team has mentioned that they are advocating for my group to be able to remain working from home permanently. If that turns out to be the case, I’m looking at relocating to New Hampshire, but reading a lot of the comments in this thread, it may not be so simple, so I appreciate the info!

        1. HooDoll*

          Honestly, I think Boston area employers often have staff who commute from RI or NH… I would not be surprised if it’s already happening if your employer is large. Hope it’s super easy for you!

        2. Lynne Donnelly*

          Plus, New Hampshire doesn’t have any income tax, so your employer would not be liable for that. They may even appreciate it!

    3. InfoSec SemiPro*

      It really, really depends. It depends on where you’re working from and what their laws and regulations are, and sometimes on how much you make. Some cities have regulations that were designed to cover sports teams who may only work in their city for a day or two, but they still want their cut. Different states have different cut offs for what “temporary” means. Some states have deals with each other.

      If you want to do it 100% by the book, it can get very detail dependent.

    4. Kathlynn*

      From what I’ve seen this depends more on the state you are working in temporarily, then the state you live in. Some states cover you for even one day of work. (iirc that’s California)

    5. JustKnope*

      My company has asked us to start recording any time we work more than 4 hours in a state that isn’t our home state on file with the company. I’m not sure if that 4hours/week thing is them being conservative or based on any sort of tax rules, but I thought it was interesting how closely they’re asking us to track.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        Your company is doing this because there are state — and local! — jurisdictions that will seek to collect income and employment taxes on income earned within their jurisdictions. E.g., this is why people who work in Manhattan, but live outside the NYC limits, will very carefully track the days and hours they work in the City so that they don’t pass the threshhold in which they have to pay NYC income tax.

        1. Drew*

          This is very wrong. I’ve done HR/payroll for multiple NYC companies. NYC income tax is only for *residents* of the five boroughs. When I moved across the Hudson, I no longer had to pay it, even though I still worked full-time in Manhattan.

          NYS income tax is more complicated, and what you’re describing could possibly apply to state income tax.

    6. LQ*

      Yes, this can absolutely still raise those issues. I also want to mention that anyone who wants to do this but go out of the country they are in creates an exponential level of complexity more. And in some cases, it’s not legally permissible at all. If you work in a lot of government work or with any private government data there can be a lot of restrictions on how that’s managed. Right now some of that is flexible as far as working from home, but I know that those government agencies will come roaring back in very soon. Requiring physical inspections of the workspaces and a lot of restrictions around what your physical location is, is secured as, who has access etc. Some of that complexity is on hold right now but will (and frankly should) come back.

      I’m not all that thrilled that all my private data can be sitting in someone’s house with their roommate or spouse or child who has not be vetted has access to that machine and when they go to wander off to do laundry leave their machine unlocked long enough for that data to be stolen. I understand right now it’s hard to manage some of that (other than locking your computer every time you go get water unless you live alone) but it’s a serious danger that I’m not ok with leaving out there forever.

        1. WhatAMaroon*

          This will depend on the type of data you work with, the contracts your company might have in place if handling other company’s data, and the rules of the country you’re going. For some types of data (especially personal data) there are rules your company might have to abide by if the data is going through a cross border data transfer, which it likely would be if you are viewing or processing the data in a different country. If your company doesn’t have the correct legal transfer mechanisms in place they could be fined. If you’re handling another company’s data in a third party capacity there may be restrictions written into the contract about the geolocation of the data.

          The last part about countries is that many countries require different visas for business versus travel and it is often illegal to do work on a travel visa. Which many countries consider working remotely to be. There are tax implications and sure not everyone gets caught, but people do and your company can be on the hook. Some people are able to avoid the “do I have the right to work in this country” if they are citizens of the country they are visiting but once again that would be dependent on a country by country basis. My advice in this situation is generally to reach out to your HR or compliance teams and ask if it’s allowed, it’s not a great beg forgiveness scenario.

    7. Retail Not Retail*

      I wondered this during my grad school internship – I was paid entirely by my school in state A, where my permanent address was. I worked the whole time in state C, but did not even set up a temporary address. (I got mail like 5 times? 4 to work, one to my temporary residence for a library card.)

      I always wondered if I should have filed taxes in State C (I don’t know if they have a state income tax – the states I grew up in and currently live in don’t so that’s my default assumption!). Additionally, I later worked out the rest of the grant money from State A doing research I emailed to the site in State C. Again, entirely paid from my school – one W-2 for the whole time.

    8. JSPA*

      It’s complicated. See link, to follow.

      Some states charge you state income tax nearly instantly; others, only if your permanent residence changes to that state (checklist: driver’s license, car registration, voter registration, permanent change of address on your mail, and above all, state that you defensibly claim in filing your federal taxes, and to which you pay in-state state taxes).

    9. Becky*

      Apparently a number of people at my company decided to move while working from home to the point that HR had to send around an email of “Here’s the states you can work from, if you are working from a different state contact HR.”

    10. The Rural Juror*

      I have a friend who did that during the pandemic – drove to a friend’s house in another state and quarantined there for a time while working remotely. However, I told her it was probably not the best idea because:
      a) She didn’t ask for permission from her company, just pretended she was still in the same city/time zone
      b) Drove across several states with company property (her laptop, etc)
      c) At times drove to go hiking or other outdoor activities while on the clock, worked from her car for a bit, then when she felt she was “safe to leave work” would shut down and leave her car
      I mean…pandemic safety issues aside, if you have to lie that much about what you’re doing, it’s probably not the best practice!

      On the other hand, a different friend who was used to traveling for work got the OK from her boss and drove to her parents house in another state, then stayed and worked for a month. She was used to having to coordinate across time zones already and was set up to go work on the go. BIG DIFFERENCE – having permission to do so!

      1. Firecat*

        Ehh. Some companies it’s better to beg forgiveness then ask permission. This really depends.

        I will say though that the taxes around this have gotten much more complicated in part due to all the attention from the WFH on 2020.

        1. WhatAMaroon*

          I would say for most companies this is not a beg forgiveness scenario because of the very real legal liabilities they can be on the hook for. This is the type of thing that at certain companies you could be fired for.

    11. Always the mom*

      I’m interested to see how this will shake out for my son… we live in California and his permanent residence has always been here. He got a job with a company located in another state right at the beginning of the pandemic (I think his start date was beginning of April) and since their offices were closed and the whole company was WFH, he remained at home in California, where he still is now (of course in the beginning, we thought he’d be relocating to New State shortly, but, you know.) Since he resided in CA all year, he’ll have to file his taxes here. I’m quite sure the company wouldn’t have the necessary paperwork in place (it’s a small but rapidly growing company, and they’ve hired quite a few people during COVID… I think my son isn’t the only one who hasn’t relocated yet.). I’m wondering if there are going to be special exceptions in place for 2020.

    12. Analyst Editor*

      How closely would a state have to be tracking its visitors and residents to know that someone from outside of it came to visit for three weeks and worked there?

  4. Remote Worker FTW*

    This is so timely, I was literally discussing this today with a coworker. While I’m not planning on moving, I’ve found WFH makes me more productive and saves me so much money (no parking fees, less gas, no formal clothes and makeup). OP I hope you and others, like myself get to keep WFH. I have no desire to go back to the office model, even on a hybrid once or twice a week basis.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Same here! I don’t like the hybrid model at all. I occasionally worked FH for my current position before COVID, but only rarely. I didn’t like it much because I didn’t have all my work things at home, didn’t have a second monitor like I did at the office, didn’t have easy access to the work network, etc. Even though I prefer WFH, when I was required to be in the office most of the time working FH was more of a hassle. Perhaps if OP had a regular hybrid model and a good home office setup it would work for them, but I have found that I like to regularly be in the same place all the time for work, whether that’s my office or my home office.

    2. Girasol*

      You mentioned advantages to you. There can be advantages to your employer as well: you’re more productive. You’re happier and less likely to leave and make them rehire for your position. And hopefully you’d return the favor on flexibility, perhaps offering a bit more work than you did in the office, considering all the time you save. If you WFH full time, and others do too, then the company may need less office space. If you can prove that WFH is successful, it’s a great selling point to attract qualified employees. If you have to make a case to your employer for continuing the arrangement, there are so many reasons you can offer to show how it’s not just a win for you but can be a win for them too.

  5. Veryanon*

    I’m currently working through a situation where an employee who’s a US citizen moved from the US first to European Country A (where my company has offices) and then to European Country B (where my company does not have a business presence). While we have the technical infrastructure in place to allow the employee to work remotely, legally we are not set up to have the employee working in Country B. The employee does not understand what all is involved and it’s become a real mess. Lesson learned for the employee, check into this prior to actually moving and just expecting that everything will be fine.

    1. HiHello*

      Is the employee planning to move back? Or will you let him go or try to establish presence there?

      1. Veryanon*

        I believe he moved to Country B for family reasons, so I’m not sure he’d be able to move back. That makes it really complicated. I’m not sure what the business decision will be as we don’t have any other reason to establish a business presence in Country B.

        1. KayEss*

          My employer recently parted ways with a midlevel rockstar employee who was already 100% remote because she was set on moving to a country where the company has no business presence.

          Crossing US state lines and thinking everything will be fine I can understand, but international borders? Yikes.

          1. allathian*

            The whole point of the EU is financial, physical, and employment mobility. Nevertheless, I expect that the differences in legislation are, by and large, even greater than they are between states in the US.

    2. Global Cat Herder*

      My company apparently had so many people update their permanent address to another country that they sent a very very long email with “here’s some legal considerations if you’re thinking work from home means you can work from ANYWHERE”.

      – Woohoo, I’m working on a beach in the Caribbean!
      – Do you have a work visa for that country?
      – What’s a work visa?

      1. WhatAMaroon*

        So good that your company did this! for some companies there are very large legal liabilities if their employees do this without asking about the parameters first. Like to the tune of fines up to 4% of the company’s revenue liabilities.

  6. AdAgencyChick*

    My first thought with this letter was “Don’t most people know the answer to this already?” I know that my company is very open to it; they’ve made that pretty clear for several months now. And I would guess that a company that highly values in-person time would also have made that clear by now.

    But…now I realize that our CEO is very big on communicating stuff like this to the rank and file, which I should appreciate and not take for granted. Curious how it is with other readers: Do you think you know your company’s stance?

    1. Remote Worker FTW*

      I work for a large company with a few divisions. Let’s say I work in the Chocolate Teapot Division, and there is a Vanilla Teapot Division and a Carmel Teapot Division. Right now the Chocolate and Vanilla Teapot divisions can WFH, but due to how the Carmel Teapots are put together they can’t. We just got a memo, division specific, that those of us in Chocolate can WFH for several more months. After that I don’t know.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I know my new company’s stance, but past places not so much. One startup I worked for was all about mobility and working from home, yet they let someone with specialized skills leave rather than let her work from the city where her husband got transferred– even though we had an office in that state. My last place was very anti-wfh for executives yet decided to let me do it rather than hire a replacement. So it can be tough.

    3. Filosofickle*

      The LW does know the answer — the company has been clear WFH is not permanent. I think the question is, could that be changed if they lobbied for it.

    4. CheeryO*

      I work for state government, and there’s been no indication either way. Telecommuting is considered a “pilot program” at the moment. It would need to be worked into our union contract, and I have no sense of whether or not the union plans to fight for it since they’ve been completely mum since last March.

      1. Office Grunt*

        I’m also a state employee in the union, and ours has been fighting for safety measures from the jump, but nothing about WFH post-pandemic. My state also had to scramble to set up a web portal for all employees to be able to remote in to their work machines (the only workers in my building with laptops and docking stations are supervisors), so a bunch of us weren’t able to do *any* work for the first 1-2 months.

        In my unit, one person has been back to M-F since around June, but no part of that person’s job could be done from home. Those of us who can do some things from home are in 2-3 days per week.

        My hunch is that consistent WFH will be killed off post-pandemic, but my hope is that for my unit, I’ll be out before it happens. I’ve applied to 4-5 positions with a title two steps higher than mine, and just got my A grade last week, fingers crossed.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I know my department’s stance. The plan going forth is that if people *can* do their job remotely, that will be the preferred situation, as long as they *want to* work remotely and are in good standing (not on any sort of PIP or probation or such). People who aren’t able to work remotely for job-related reasons (whether that’s needing equipment or being on PIPs) get first dibs on the limited space. People who can’t work remotely for logistical reasons (bad internet, no functional workspace, etc) get second dibs. If there’s extra space after that, then it may be opened up to people who just don’t want to work at home, but they were trying even pre-COVID to decide how to handle the fact that our department outgrew its physical space a long time ago. (Several of our teams have been fully remote for going on ten years; I haven’t worked on site the entire almost 7 years I’ve worked here.)

      I don’t know the rest of the org’s position, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s similar – that said, we’re an organization of just shy of 20 hospitals, so we have a ton of folks who just straight up can’t work remotely, most of the patient care staff and such. My department is in administration.

      1. WellRed*

        People on PIP get first dibs, while an employee in good standing with no internet gets second dibs? Oy. Although I’ll assume it actually doesn’t come down to fighting over limited space ; )

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Haha, yeah, “dibs” wasn’t quite the right word, but :) I suspect that it’s not going to be that big an issue – almost everyone I’ve heard from, albeit informally, is perfectly fine with staying remote, so given the folks who weren’t remote before but will be now, I’m sure there should ultimately be enough room for the folks who don’t want to be. (But everyone who can be remote will be through at least July anyway, and that one IS an org-wide policy.)

        2. Adultiest Adult*

          I mean, I can see this, although I would argue that “bad internet” should also fall under the category of a job-related reason and be in the first category. We are pulling an employee on a PIP back into the office almost full time, because unfortunately part of his problem is that he can’t work independently and requires a high degree of supervisor oversight, and he is not being successful WFH. (I am already in-office 3 days per week.) We are trying to see if we can salvage the employee before parting ways. I can see how other employees who might be on a PIP for similar reasons would have priority for back-in-the-office space, if only so they are closer to management oversight.

    6. Lilith*

      I’m planning on floating the idea of working from home permanently, and I have absolutely no idea how it will go down. As far as I know, no-one else has asked (which is unlikely, in a company of 300 people) and so I don’t know if upper management have come up with a policy about it.

    7. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My company just took away half of our team’s space in the office since most of us are working from home now and it’s going well. They’ve moving people around in our building and moving people from outside the building into it from what I understand. They were pretty good about WFH before all this, but they have relaxed their standards a lot and made it easier for more people to do so.

      1. Amaranth*

        I can see some companies seeing this as a way to reduce infrastructure, while some might push back with ‘but we have this big building we have to use it!’ (Yes, I’ve worked for the government, how can you tell?)

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My company doesn’t have an official stance, but its not hard to read between the lines.

        1. Remote Worker FTW*

          I can see companies not liking remote and demanding workers coming back. I can also see certain workers launching secret job searches if this occurs. This could backfire on some employers.

    9. Picard*

      My company only allows WFH if there is a medical reason (ie Covid diagnosis or pending, childcare closed due to Covid etc) While we are a manufacturing plant, there are a number of positions that could work remote by our C level folks feel that if everyone cant work from home, then no none can. They have otherwise been very good about following guidelines and we are considered an essential supplier so… shrug.

    10. IdahoSmith82*

      Offices like mine have transformed into virtual offices quite well- and most of us are thriving in WFH environments- that being said- there are also some old fashioned folks in my industry/office that are very much against long term WFH.

      There are quite a few folks who’ve been turned down for full time out of state relocation, and those of us who were lucky enough to be granted that (I’m one of them) had some big players in their corners. It helps that one of those players happened to be a principal in the business who had my back and moved to the same state I did (she’s actually about 15 minutes from my home, and we can share plane rides if we do need fly in).

      The only reason I was granted the option was that I actually did say “this is happening, and either you lose me and my skills, or you let me go remote.” I had additional spouse related reasons, as opposed to “I just want to move”, so that also gave me leverage. But otherwise- despite the resounding success- my company is still very, very reluctant to allowing it on a large scale.

      1. Remote Worker FTW*

        I don’t that have option…but I work for a big big company. If they force me to go back I will, but I’ll also be looking for internal transfers to all remote.

        1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

          I suspect it’s more all the other stuff surrounding the plane trip – transport to and from the airport at each end, accomodation etc. Also if they are likely to be attending the same meetings in the office then it’s easier to coordinate them to arrive at the same time if they’re on the same plane.

        2. Gray Lady*

          I think it’s in the sense of “share a meal”. That usually doesn’t mean you’re splitting the food, it means you’re together and getting the benefits of eating together rather than alone.

    11. ThatGirl*

      I just started a new job, and the read I’m getting right now is that they would be open to having someone WFH full time, as long as it’s a state they’re established in. I don’t know that with 100% certainty, but I know that a) we already have employees in multiple states across teams and b) the main office space is running low due to a slew of new hires in the past year.

      That said, I would personally prefer a hybrid model or the ability to wfh on an ad-hoc basis; I like having an office space to go to.

    12. Elenna*

      My company has been really open about communicating their current stance, although right now their stance on post-pandemic WFH is “we’re considering hybrid models but we don’t know for sure yet”, so I don’t know what’s going to happen but that’s not because of bad communication. Not that it matters right now, since my province just went into full “stay home if at all possible” lockdown mode, even if the premier doesn’t want to actually use the word “lockdown”.

    13. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      My large company has done well in its pandemic response and even made a big deal about offering more flexible options after the vaccine came through. I heard they were pushing leaders to allow more WFH and made groups (WFH only, 1-3 days in the office, 4-5 days in the office) but left it up to leadership to choose for their own group. Sigh.

      We were notified of our post vaccine WFH status in December, most people I know ended up in the 1-3 or 4-5 days per week groups in the office. I’m in the 1-3 category, which probably means the unwritten rule will be 3/week (despite already being at 3 days/week pre pandemic) but at this point in my career and life, I am going to target 1/week and test those boundaries.

    14. Rocket Woman*

      My company is “continuing to study things” but I get the impression they are leaning towards a hybrid model for my overall department. However, my department has 8 subsections with different managers, and my manger does not like having us WFH. He is big on “collaboration” (aka he has his hands in everything) and having my department co-located together instead of with our programs (which is a pain). So I’m not hopeful we’ll get the hybrid models, even if that is what is chosen by the higher ups. Hopefully when the time comes we can push back as a group, but I’m thinking this is at least 6 months away for now.

    15. lemon*

      My impression is that the division I work in is largely supportive of at least some kind of hybrid WFH arrangement post-pandemic. The central org’s stance is harder to figure out. My sense is they’re more in favor of keeping people in offices, if only to avoid the headache of dealing with people who want to work out of state. But within my division, there are some department head’s that are more resistant and want people in the office. My own department head is more supportive of flexibility for our team, but still feel like we’ll end up with a hybrid WFH arrangement– something like two days in the office, 3 days WFH.

      So, I’m grateful that it seems my team will most likely have flexibility going forward, but still wish I could do 100% remote. Pre-pandemic, I’d say 95% of my time was spent sitting alone in an office, never speaking to anyone in-person. I didn’t even run into people in the bathroom or the breakroom. If my job is sitting alone in a room, I can do that anywhere, and I’d prefer to do it from home.

  7. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I don’t know with this one. I think if the LW wanted to stay remote because she loves working from home, it would go over better (and she should follow Alison’s scripts). But LW, think really hard about why you want to move. Is it only so you can stay with your parents? Because that’s the only thing I’m getting, not that you’ve always wanted to live in their new city or you are amazingly productive at home.

    You know your own finances, but think really hard about whether not moving out is your best option. Studio apartments, roommates, renting for a while… just consider it, especially if your job says no to remote work.

    1. Three Flowers*

      ^this. I didn’t address it in my comment below, but it’s hard to tell whether “move out on my own” means “move out of my parents’ house at all” or “get a nice apartment by myself”. If it’s option B, LW should probably consider other ways to achieve option A rather than uprooting themself professionally and personally to follow their parents.

      This is all moot if there is some other kind of circumstances for example health expenses or need for a particular kind of living situation, that affect what OP can afford.

    2. mayfly*

      Excellent point. I’ve lived in a lot of cheap, small apartments in my life. Was it a fantastic lifestyle? No (one place even had slugs). But it gave me autonomy and a measure of financial freedom.
      And if the company isn’t paying the LW enough to truly be able to live on their own, then it’s time to search for a new job, because that’s an indication of larger, systemic issues.

    3. Claire*

      Why shouldn’t LW want to live with her parents, though? As Alison pointed out, it would be perfectly normal for her to want to move just because her spouse wanted to move. If she doesn’t want to live with her parents, that’s one thing, but I don’t see that she’s saying that.

      1. mayfly*

        We’ve had employees who wanted to move because their spouse got a new job, and we couldn’t support them WFH in the new area. I think when your life circumstances are such that you rearrange/subordinate your life to support others’ decisions, there is a chance that it won’t work out with employers.
        Living with parents can benefit the parents (in the case of health issues, when the adult child can take on a caregiver role) and it can benefit the adult child (by providing a lower cost of living). If the adult child is primarily living with parents for their own economic and lifestyle benefit, I think it’s going to be much more difficult to get special accommodations from employers.

    4. lemon*

      I don’t know… I wish I’d had the option to live with my parents for a few years post-grad. It would have given me a chance to build up some savings, maybe a down payment, and pay down my student loans.

      I’ve been living on my own in a high COL city for over 15 years now, and I only just now managed to scrape together a down payment for a condo. During that time, I’ve moved 11 times, chasing after affordable rent. If I’d been able to buy something sooner, my monthly housing costs would have been lower, and I would have been building equity.

      If living with parents works for the OP, more power to them. They’ll be able to start off in a stronger financial position when they do decide to live on their own.

  8. Three Flowers*

    I think there’s another big question here for a young person and their employer: is it a good idea for a person in their first job to keep working from home? There’s actually a lot of stuff about the work world that you pick up by being in a shared work environment.

    There are also a lot of other circumstantial questions that are worth contemplating for the OP that we don’t have enough info to speculate on. For instance, are they living/working in a city where the cost of rent is prohibitive even with a good salary? If not, are they genuinely not being paid enough to rent a place with roommates? (If so, it’s not a good salary and they should look for another job regardless of where they are living.) If they are being paid adequately considering the local COL and the issue is other expenses–for example, medical expenses not covered by insurance–then can they find out if their company has a branch in the city their parents intend to move to and ask for a transfer?

    1. HiHello*

      That was my thinking. OP said she was getting pay well but couldn’t afford to move out. I understand not being able to move out and maybe move cross country, but she should be able to afford something in the same city. I just moved cross country so I was looking at apartments. There are plenty of people looking for roommates or to sublease their apartments. Often, these already come furnished. I live in Seattle so there may be more housing options here, but I still think that there must be at least a few people looking for roommates where OP lives.

      1. Three Flowers*

        It’s possible that even with roommates, what seems like a very good salary might not be enough. I’m thinking of, say, San Francisco expenses vs what a google search would tell you is a good salary for that type of position. But my personal take on that would be 1) move, because rents in SF are ridiculous, and 2) if your employer is in a city that expensive and you can’t afford to rent, your salary is bad regardless of what GlassDoor says, and 3) don’t necessarily move to where your parents are going; consider a transfer to another city with reasonable expenses. I used to live in Large Famously Cheap Midwestern City, where there were tons of young people who had come there specifically because their salaries went much, much further than Large Exciting Coastal Cities. I’m not saying that OP should make a decision solely based on that (I hated LFCMC), but they should consider the full range of options, not just City A that’s too expensive or living with parents in City B.

        I wonder if Covid is a factor too–worrying about living with irresponsible roommates.

        1. Remote Worker FTW*

          I lived with roommates for many, many years before I met my husband and got married. I cannot DISrecommend the experience enough. Even if you live with your actual best friend (which I did for years) and/or with cool people who are not friends and mind their own business (which I did for other years), it’s just not great. From having to worry about chores, shared money, who gets the better parking spot, just so much drama. I’ve seen first hand friends who got divorced who were willing to move to much lower cost of living areas to never ever have to have a roommate.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Conversely, my husband and I live with our actual best friend, and did before we got engaged, let alone married – we’re going on six years as a household now. The closest we have to any hiccups is that I can’t stand his dumber-than-rocks girlfriend, but none of us (including him) have seen her more than twice since February, so. :P

            1. Three Flowers*

              And to add a third experience: I lived with roommates in grad school and then never did again because while my roommates were generally OK, introversion and roommates do not make for a restful living situation.

              I don’t think roommate living is for everyone–I would certainly lose my goddamn mind if I got a roommate now after ten years solo–but if OP is approaching this as an all-or-nothing, parents’-house-or-living-alone situation, there are other ways they could think about it. (Plus I think there’s a lot to be said for a young person going from living with family to living with roommates before living entirely on their own: stages of independence. College helps for non-commuter students, of course, but not everyone has that experience.)

          2. lemon*

            Definitely agree on being very cautious to recommend roommates. Aside from the usual fighting about who does the dishes and who takes out the trash and all that drama, I think people forget that the shared financial responsibility cuts both ways. If your roommate decides to skip out on the rent, you’re still liable for what they owe if your name is on the lease. I’ve had three different roommates stick me with months and months of unpaid rent. And these weren’t strangers–these were people I considered friends before we started living together.

    2. Richard*

      “Is it a good idea for a person in their first job to keep working from home? There’s actually a lot of stuff about the work world that you pick up by being in a shared work environment.”
      This is such an important question and gets lost in the “WFH forever” glee I always see around here. It’s great for people who have already acculturated to workplace norms and are happy to leave them, but some people are going to have to learn a whole new set of skills when they get back.

  9. KHB*

    It’s not at all weird to ask, but it’s also not at all weird to be told no. We’ve had a handful of people relocate out of the area during the pandemic and will become permanently remote, but we’ve also hired some new people who don’t currently live in the area but will be required to move here by the time the office reopens fully. It depends on the situation.

    On the issue with working across state lines: We’ve been told that under no circumstances can anyone work for us remotely from California, because we don’t have the resources to deal with all the regulations there. So if that’s where your parents are moving, you may have more of an uphill climb.

    I’d advise you to assume that relocating won’t be possible unless you’re specifically told that it will, and save as much of your very good salary as you can so you can get your own place if you have to.

  10. Tuesday*

    Is there a risk to saying you’ve noticed your productivity is up while working from home? If the default plan is to go back to the office eventually, I wouldn’t want them to think that I expect my productivity to drop.

  11. OP [they/them]*

    Hi everyone! OP here. Thank you so much to Allison and all the commenters so far. To clarify a few things, plans have evolved some and I’m fairly certain that at least for a time, I’m going to move out and stay in the city I’m currently in. The cost of rent is fairly high here, but I do make enough for living expenses with some tighter budgeting and a couple of roommates, since my brother and his boyfriend will be looking for a new place to live around the same time as the move.

    I’ve also floated the idea with my boss on moving, and he told me that while my current city is the hub for my company, my team is looking to have more presence around the world and I’d have support moving to another smaller location. So if that becomes an option in the future, I may get to move internationally, which I find very exciting!

    Regarding working from home, I do agree I need to get more experience with professional norms, and in the office would probably be the best place for that, so I might seek a hybrid solution- but it’s recently been announced that our go-back date has been tentatively pushed to September, so I have time to figure out the moving thing before then.

    Thanks again, everyone!

  12. Janet*

    I would proceed cautiously if it were me. My guess is that there could be an evolution in thinking over time, so it is possible that a manager could feel today that remote work is fine because we are all at home right now anyway, but could feel differently a year after we reopen when everyone except one person is working in the office. That person’s permanent physical absence may seem like more of an issue down the road.

  13. I'm just here for the cats*

    “but our culture has some odd baggage around living with parents.”
    YES! Why is this a big thing in America! I always feel like I have to justify that I live with my mom because of her health issues.

    OMG even in my own family, they are like “why do you live with your mom still” “Don’t you want to get away from her?” They completely forget that I lived on my own while in college. Yes, it was on university-owned property and with roommates for most of the time. But I still had my own bills, took care of stuff, etc. And its super expensive in my city and we have a great place. And it’s not like she “mothers” me. I don’t have to tell her when or where I’m going. We split the bills. If I want people to come over I ask if its ok, but I would do that if I had a roommate. Plus my family doesn’t realize/ acknowledge my mom’s health conditions where she does rely on me for help with the house.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Yup. I live with them because, despite being well paid, owners and real estate agencies constantly increase rent and related costs “just in case”. And with the pandemic and all, either
      a) owners are terrified of renting to someone who looks like they might lose their job overnight
      b) they cater to wealthier people who are fleeing from the city and have $$$$
      (I’m frustrated, please let me vent)

      1. lemon*

        It’s been increasingly difficult to rent in my city because landlords want applicants to have perfect credit, pay a $500 non-refundable move-in fee, plus first/last month’s rent (and don’t forget pet deposits and pet rent). All for the privilege of living in a $1200/month studio that’s so small your bed is right next to your oven.

        (Frustrated and venting right along with you. :) )

    2. Claire*

      Yeah, I’m bewildered by that attitude—I live with my parents because I’m from a cultural background where that’s expected and because I have no pressing need to move out.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I think it really depends on both the culture and the family/people in question. I have a college friend whose parents moved back to the Midwest after they retired, and they bought a large enough house that she could have the (nice, walkout) basement to herself, so she saw no reason not to move in with them. She could afford her own place, and in fact recently bought a condo when she got a new job a little further away, but for the 10 years or so she lived with them full time it made perfect sense.

        Me? My parents are divorced, I’m married but even if I weren’t I wouldn’t have wanted to live with either of my parents. We’re just not that kind of family and we need distance to have a healthier relationship.

      2. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        I have a friend that took advantage of being fully WFH to move back in with family. She’s loving it and really considering her plans for the future.

    3. Casey in the sunshine*

      Living with a parent due to health reasons on either party is one thing. However…

      I personally know a woman who moved just for the sake of getting her adult son out of her basement. She literally sold her house and moved 20 minutes away to a place with an unfinished basement. Sometimes parents want to seem welcoming when all they want you to do is go, but they don’t want to seem unloving. In my friend’s case, it worked. He moved out and got a roommate. Independence is the ultimate goal of adulthood, in this culture anyway.

      1. Workerbee*

        To me, that sounds like an expensive, stressful, and time-consuming way to tell someone, “I love you very much, and it’s time for you to be out on your own. You have X days/months to find a place and move out.”

        But maybe she loves her new house and wanted an excuse to get out of her old one anyway!

  14. voyager1*

    I am not sure I disagree with AAM, but I think something she didn’t mention is sunk costs for businesses. If they have a ton tied up in buildings and such, I could see them being unresponsive to continued WFH. However if most of their physical presence is leased, then they might use WFH as a way of cutting costs.

    Bloomberg news a while back had a quick story about how corporate real estate is going to stay down till possibly as late as 2024 or 2025.

    I think a lot of the new WFH normal is really going to be determined by cost and not so much feelings about workplace conventions pre Covid. That is assuming that the job can be done just as well at home as being in a office environment.

    1. Remote Worker FTW*

      I’d like to think MOST jobs that have been WFH due to the pandemic can continue to be WFH jobs. We have 20 or so people in my direct team. One person is chomping at the bit to go back and most people from what I know are like me and hoping we don’t have to.

    2. Mockingjay*

      My company has done an amazing job with getting nearly 100% of the company remote. BUT…just before COVID they signed a lease for beautiful, newly renovated spaces (which were sorely needed – we’d outgrown the very old, very dilapidated building to the point we rented temp spaces for overflow).

      That beautiful, newly renovated building has been nearly vacant since March except for a skeleton crew. Most of the cubes and offices aren’t even unpacked, the new furniture still has tags. The company is going to want us back.

      I can’t decide what I want. I like my new office space (I was in it for a couple of months before they sent everyone home), but I don’t miss the commute AT ALL. I had to put some money into my home setup (I kept it under $150) and I’m tired of these four walls, but it’s great being able to take the dogs for a stroll when I need a break and I don’t ever want to wear fitted slacks again.

    3. Nicki Name*

      This! My company was going to have to look for new office space this year anyway, so they’ve already said screw it, everyone who’s comfortable with permanent WFH can have permanent WFH, and they’ll look for an office sized to just the people who want or need to work in an office.

      In my industry, though, there’s one big company which is famous for having a lot of home-like amenities at its offices. After investing so heavily in that, it’s not surprising that it’s now extremely reluctant to embrace WFH.

      1. allathian*

        Home-like amenities are a huge red flag for me. Companies that invest in those want their employees working 24/7. They may have cool offices, but don’t expect any work/life balance.

        Many companies that have invested in cool offices are realizing that their employees don’t value the offices nearly as much as the employer thought they would.

  15. New Mom*

    I definitely really hope that my company still allows for WFH, at least most of the time. I was one of those people that would spiral into a daily rage during my horrible commute. I was spending almost two hours a day in traffic. I just… don’t want to go back to that. Additionally, we have to do daycare pickup and that would require me either leaving my house 15 minutes before pickup or my onsite job location an hour early.
    What’s hard about my company is we have branches that have to be in person for their work, it’s not possible for them to stay remote after covid. But I work at the headquarters and 80%-100% of our work can be done remotely. The leadership team seems wary to have different rules for different staffers (even though the scope of our work is super different). So I might be forced to come in because people that work at completely different locations, doing completely different work have to come in.

    1. mayfly*

      I think this really encapsulates the issue with the modern workforce (and real estate market). There are a lot of companies located in areas where employees, even at fair wages, would struggle to afford housing. So employees move to the cheaper, outer areas they can afford, but that means that they also have to take on a long commute that is likely crowded with others in the same position. It’s untenable in that it requires the worker to commit a large chunk of their non-work time (and mental energy) to commuting.
      Now, I am lucky in that my office is in the suburbs, so it’s an easy 1/2 hour commute on backroads. Because of this, I prefer to work at the office. But my husband, who works in the city and has to car commute and bus in, loves being able to work at home.

      1. Abogado Avocado*

        I think the lesson of New Mom’s post is for those who want to work at home: look carefully at your job description and determine what can be done at home and what must be done at the office. Then, make your case to your managers based on that job description.

        The more public-facing your role is, the harder it may be to justify at home work. And, let’s face it, the public-facing aspects of many jobs has been relegated to email in the past 9 months, which likely will not last once the “back to in-office work” whistle sounds. However, if you reasonably can limit your public-facing work to a particular day or days in the office and/or partner with other employees who do similar public-facing work to get that work done on alternate days, you may be able to make a stronger case for working at home.

        1. New Mom*

          So for my role, since I do administration work and support people in other locations. Technically, ALL of my work can be done remotely. It’s just that leadership “feels” like I should be in the office. So I am trying to think of arguments that are based on opinions instead of logic.

    2. yala*

      I’m with you. We’re on a hybrid system right now, and I would LOVE for it to continue. The office, with all of its politics and whispering, etc, is a very stressful place for me to be, physically. At least, compared to just chilling at home with no one walking around behind me (I hate that so much), my cat on my lap, and a computer that works significantly faster than my ancient machine at work.
      My old commute wasn’t too bad, but I recently moved across the city. It’s still not awful right now (20-30 minutes), but I know from experience that when things go Back To Normal that traffic is gonna be a nightmare. The less frequently I have to do that, the better.

      (plus it’s, like, an extra 30 minutes of sleep without having to worry about the commute. sweet, delicious sleep.)

  16. The Happy Graduate*

    I’m curious as to why the OP isn’t considering renting a room like people do in college? That would solve the issue of their parents moving and depending on your standards/area, one room in an apartment or house can be very cheap.

    1. allathian*

      Living with people you don’t know very well is very unappealing for many people. Granted, living with parents once you’re an adult is equally unappealing for many people. Given the choice, some will prefer living with their parents over living with someone they don’t know very well. With strangers, you always have to be a bit “on”, and there’s all sorts of discussions and arguments about cleaning frequency and standards, etc. Sure, it’s important to come to some sort of agreement about these things with a SO as well, but it’s still someone you’ve deliberately chosen to live with.

      In short, I don’t want to live with people unless I can fart or belch in their presence without feeling completely mortified.

  17. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    I wanted to point out that while the LW states that she makes good money for her age and region, she also can’t afford to move out on what she’s making. That means that her salary actually isn’t great for an adult in her region (I’m sure it’s fine, but it’s not worth calling out as very good if you can’t live on it without help). It’s not worth leaving over yet, but it means that you can start looking for other options instead of trying to find ways to keep this one job.

  18. Foxgloves*

    I was somewhat confused about why OP said that she was concerned about moving out from her parents’ home given COVID- but would be willing to move with her parents?
    Now, if this is because her parents are vulnerable and she wants to be with them for support, or if it is really not financially viable then that’s of course completely reasonable and understandable. But otherwise, I’m not sure why she’d be willing to undertake one move, but not another?

    I also agree with other commenters above who have noted that OP says her salary is good for her age and region but also states that she can’t afford to move out. I’m repeating others, but OP, really look at whether the issue is “can’t move out at all” (in which case your salary isn’t as great as you might immediately think) or whether the issue is “can’t move into the type of place I really want, but could move into a lesser-but-acceptable place”. If your company really won’t allow you to work from home permanently, you might need to look into the latter.

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