Our favorite housing economist — yes, we have one of those — is Jenny Schuetz, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who publishes a steady stream of insightful and practical articles on topics like why getting a multi-year lease is a good idea and whom you should blame for high housing costs (spoiler alert: greedy people). We caught up with her to ask our burning questions, which have been edited and condensed:
Q: Where should I live?
A: Most people still choose where to live based on where their job is. I encourage moving to a city where you’re not just moving there for one job and one employer. If you turn out to not love your boss or to lose your job, big cities offer some insurance because you can change companies without having to pick up your entire life and break your social networks to move.
Q: What if I can work from anywhere?
A: An awful lot of employers would still like you to be within a couple hours of the metro area. And there’s still strong value to having informational interviews over coffee, and that’s much easier to do where there are lots of companies you’d want to work for. Particularly early in your career, going to a happy hour and getting your name out there still has value.
Q: Where should my partner and I live?
A: You need to be located where both people can find satisfying work. In cities, both members of a couple are able to find jobs, and job switch if needed.
Q: You really like cities, huh?
A: Well, the less you are a sort of “typical” person, the more appeal there is to being in a place that’s big and diverse. Though people aren’t moving to really small places. The trend of moving away from the biggest cities like New York, L.A. and San Francisco has been going on for almost a decade now, and a lot of that is driven by cost. But Denver, Nashville and Austin are still big metro areas, with more than a million people, and you’re still going to find a ton of people who have similar ages and education.
Q: So if I’m looking for a mate, should I go to a city?