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The Work-From-Home Boom Is Here to Stay. Get Ready for Pay Cuts

White-collar workers are taking advantage of a newfound flexibility to leave expensive coastal cities, even as companies move to “localize” their pay.
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Photo Illustration: 731; Photos: Alamy; Getty Images

Rachel Musiker was on maternity leave, stuck in a two-bedroom basement apartment with a newborn, when Covid-19 started spreading in New York City. Her husband, who works in the insurance industry, was still commuting on the subway, so she started making him shower before holding the baby. “It was just starting to feel unsafe to even go for walks,” Musiker says. So, on March 14, they packed a few bags and drove to Rochester, N.Y.

Musiker had loved her Brooklyn neighborhood. The rent was ridiculous, but there was a bistro a few steps from her apartment that served a fabulous brunch (if you were willing to wait for a table) and a day care a half-block away where she planned to send the baby. None of that mattered now. The day care might not even be open when she went back to work; brunch was a Before Times indulgence.