Where Knowledge Workers Want to Live and Why

In their article, “Residential Location Choice of Knowledge-Workers: The Role of Amenities, Workplace and Lifestyle,” Amnon Frenkel, Edward Bendit, and Sigal Kaplan set out to examine the quality of life and amenities preferences of knowledge workers who work in the finance, communications, and IT industries in order to determine how they choose residence locations. The authors examined the preferences of knowledge workers in their roles as employees, consumers, and family members. One aim of the study was to incorporate both classical location factors and cultural amenities/urban vibrancy factors to try to determine their relative importance.

In a survey of over 800 knowledge-workers in metropolitan Tel Aviv, the researchers asked about socioeconomic characteristics of neighborhoods, employment characteristics, car ownership, commute times, and involvement in cultural, sporting, and other activities centered around either home or work. In addition to the survey data, information was also incorporated on population density; percentage of land used for education, culture, or public open spaces; percentage of population in the work force, and housing prices.

The results showed that knowledge workers had a preference for the presence of educational and cultural facilities and low commute times to work, but that the two most influential factors in determining residence location were the socioeconomic level of a neighborhood and housing price. Knowledge workers place lower priority on urban amenities than on access to competitive prices for housing located in communities with high proportions of university graduates, the number of workers in prestigious occupations, and a low unemployment rate. The researchers agree with previous concerns that residential location choice theories focused on lifestyle and cultural amenities have “possibly overrated” the importance of those factors.

Individuals’ activity patterns were found to be important. Knowledge-workers whose preferences center on cultural or sport-related activities desire to reside in the urban core where cultural and sporting facilities are concentrated. In contrast, knowledge workers who place a priority on home-oriented activities prefer a residence on outskirts of the urban core or in the suburbs.

The researchers noted that their method could be replicated in other cities, and that results will vary. For example, while in Tel Aviv cultural amenities and lifestyle were important factors, even though behind neighborhood socioeconomic level and housing price, a comparable study in Dublin found that proximity to cultural amenities was among the least important factors in residential location decisions among knowledge workers in that city.

Frenkel, Amnon, Edward Bendit and Sigal Kaplan. 2013. "Residential Location Choice of Knowledge-Workers: The Role of Amenities, Workplace and Lifestyle." Cities 35: 33-41. doi: 10.1016/j.cities.2013.06.005

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