As remote work became a way of life for so many people during the COVID-19 pandemic and the more months passed, the clearer it became that many things would never go back to how they were before. Since then, families all across the country have been taking full advantage this lifestyle shift by abandoning the locations they were tied to only because of their jobs.
Over the past year, many people, including the Shermans, formerly of Chicago and now of Sarasota, Florida, have permanently moved to vacation destinations that are being dubbed "Zoom towns," a play on the word "boomtown" and the popular video chatting service.
"When COVID hit, it was pretty much like being in lockdown, like being in prison in our house," Paul Sherman told NBC News' Catie Beck. But now, "we spend most of our time outside, or by the pool, or boating, it's true paradise."
Sherman and his wife, Cindy, decided to uproot their family, including their kids and dogs, and completed their relocation within 45 days.
Other popular Zoom towns include Butte, Montana, known for its mountains, Austin, Texas, and Charleston, South Carolina. Some have seen home sales increase as much as 30% within the past year. Airbnb has reported similar trends with its longer-term rentals.
Irene Becklund and her husband called San Francisco home for 13 years but recently moved to Bend, Oregon, where they live in a house instead of their 700-square-foot apartment.
"COVID actually kind of changed everything," she told Beck. "I just was craving a little more nature and a little more hikes and a little more just outdoor activity. ... It just was a game changer in our personal lives."
For the Shermans, the move has brought them closer and helped the father of two achieve better work-life balance. After all, he now takes his Zoom calls by the pool.
"I wouldn't change it, I love it," Paul Sherman said. "I'd say my blood pressure and stress level has dropped so much."