By Brett Arends, MarketWatch
What can you get for $400 a month these days?
Well, you could lease a 2019 Dodge Journey SUV /zigman2/quotes/204248628/composite FCAU -0.87% , or an Acura TLX /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC -0.63% , or a Toyota 4Runner /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM -1.05% , according to carsdirect.com .
Or you could buy your own home. No, really.
Realtor.com released a study this week of all the places where you can buy a home for less than $100,000. Combine that with today’s mortgage rates, near historic lows , and $400 doesn’t seem like a pipe dream.
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A 3.6% 30-year mortgage on $80,000 with 20% down works out at a monthly cost of about $370. That doesn’t include property taxes and things like insurance, but it doesn’t include the tax break on the interest either.
That’s less than a quarter the cost of renting a studio in New York or San Francisco.
Racine, Wisc., Kalamazoo, Mich., Joplin, Mo., Buffalo, S.D., Lincoln, Neb., Cleveland, Ohio, Moore, Okla., Rockford, Ill., Memphis, Tenn. and Pittsburgh, Penn. are all on the list of places where you can buy a home for less than $100,000 with repayments of $400 or less.
(Realtor.com is operated by News Corp /zigman2/quotes/201755982/composite NWSA +0.26% subsidiary Move Inc., and MarketWatch is a unit of Dow Jones, which is also a subsidiary of News Corp.)
That’s arguably good news for the growing number of “platform workers” or remote workers who no longer have to be physically near their employers to do their jobs. Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report found that in 2016, 43% of U.S. employees were working remotely at least part of the time, up from 39% four years earlier.
What’s more, a rising number are working remotely most or all of the time, it also found.
That is likely to continue, many experts believe. Thanks to co-working software and online platforms, such as Google Docs /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -0.71% /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL -0.79% , Zoom /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM -0.95% , and Slack /zigman2/quotes/212180539/composite WORK +0.42% , workers can collaborate from anywhere, says Martin Kenney, economics professor at the University of California, Davis, and co-author of research on the platform economy.
“An increasing amount of work is done in virtual teams,” he says.
While few things can beat face time with a colleague for brainstorming or a boss for impression management, there is also evidence that people working from home may be more productive than those stuck in endless meetings in the office.
Moving somewhere cheaper “leaves more money in your pocket,” Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and the author of a recent report on remote working, tells MarketWatch. “It is effectively an increase in [your] real income.”