Best U.S. Cities for Remote Workers (2020)

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The world is facing a challenging time. As countries across the globe fight to contain the spread of Coronavirus, it has forced many businesses to transform their workplace into a remote one. Many employees are now working from home. 

While it may be a whole new world for some businesses, for others it’s common practice. Today, 4.7 million Americans work remotely, according to FlexJobs. The idea of “punching a clock” is fading as more and more employers offer remote positions or flexible schedules.

Remote work opportunities are growing quickly. Between 2007 and 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. The majority of employees (74%) believe remote job opportunities will become the new normal. Some even say that the Coronavirus could usher in a work-from-home revolution if companies implement the right strategies.

While remote work is possible in every city, there are certain ones that make the days easier. Which cities are the best for remote workers? We crunched some data to answer that very question.

We looked at things like internet connectivity, cost of living, and commute time savings. We also looked at cities with access to coffee shops, libraries, and coworking space, which gives remote workers a chance to work from different locations – when a pandemic isn’t occurring.  

Our research reveals which cities in the U.S. are best for remote workers.

Key takeaways from our research:

  • Phoenix, Arizona is the best city for remote workers
  • Arizona and Ohio have two cities that ranked in the top ten best cities for remote workers
  • 36% of the best cities for remote workers are in the South, 27% are in the West, 24% are in the Midwest, and 13% are in the East.

The best city for remote workers: Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona lands at the top of our best cities for remote workers. The capital of the southwestern state has coworking spaces that won’t break the bank, a low cost of living, and solid internet speeds.

Looking at these categories more closely, the coworking spaces in Phoenix are the most affordable of all the cities on the list. The city’s cost of living score is 13. Cities with scores close to zero are the most affordable. The internet speed ranks 16th among all 45 cities, so it provides a strong, consistent speed for workers.

Best Cities Remote Work heat map

The top 45 cities for remote workers

While Phoenix, Arizona holds the top spot, there are plenty of other cities that are ideal for remote workers. Here’s a look at the rankings.

RankCityStateReigonAverage Score
1PhoenixArizonaWest70.625
2AtlantaGeorgiaSouth70.25
3Kansas CityMissouriMidwest69.125
4RaleighNorth CarolinaSouth64.625
5ToledoOhioMidwest62.625
6LouisvilleKentuckySouth62.5
7ColumbusOhioMidwest62.25
8BaltimoreMarylandEast61.625
9TucsonArizonaWest61.5
10OrlandoFloridaSouth60.5
11PortlandOregonWest59
12MinneapolisMinnesotaMidwest58.75
13DetroitMichiganMidwest58.5
14Las VegasNevadaWest58
15ClevelandOhioMidwest55.875
16JacksonvilleFloridaSouth55.375
17San DiegoCaliforniaWest54.375
18MadisonWisconsinMidwest53.625
19TampaFloridaSouth52.875
20PittsburghPennsylvaniaEast52.75
21SeattleWashingtonWest52.375
22NashvilleTennesseeSouth51.375
23TulsaOklahomaMidwest51.125
24DenverColoradoMidwest49
25MiamiFloridaSouth48.75
26AustinTexasSouth48
27New YorkNew YorkEast47.625
28PhiladelphiaPennsylvaniaEast46.75
29New OrleansLouisianaSouth45.25
30CharlotteNorth CarolinaSouth44.375
31HonoluluHawaiiWest44
32DallasTexasSouth43.625
33San FranciscoCaliforniaWest42.875
34BostonMassachusettsEast42.625
35SacramentoCaliforniaWest42
36MemphisTennesseeSouth41.5
37El PasoTexasSouth41.5
38RenoNevadaWest41.125
39ChicagoIllinoisMidwest40.375
40Colorado SpringsColoradoMidwest39.75
41HoustonTexasSouth36.75
42Los AngelesCaliforniaWest35.625
43San JoseCaliforniaWest35.25
44San AntonioTexasSouth35.25
45BuffaloNew YorkEast33.375

Cities in Arizona and Ohio are highly ranked for remote workers

In Arizona, Phoenix and Tucson made the top ten. In Ohio, Toledo and Columbus hold the top ten rankings too. The cost of living in all of these cities is among the lowest on the list and their internet speeds are solid as well.

Plus, research also shows more people want to live in these cities. Population growth is happening in Tucson, Columbus, and Phoenix, which is ranked the fastest-growing city in the U.S.

The south has the highest number of cities on the list

Out of the 46 cities that made our list, 16 of them – or 36% – are in the south. What does the south have to offer that others don’t? Our research shows it’s a combination of things. Southern states tend to have a low cost of living, fast internet speeds, and highly ranked coffee shops, libraries, and coworking spaces.

Best Cities Remote Workers south

best cities remote work east

Best Cities Remote Work west

Best Cities Remote Workers midwest

The benefits of working remotely

Companies forced to work remotely because of the Coronavirus could be skeptical. Will employees be productive? How will they be accountable for their work? There are many questions swirling around offices all over the country right now, but the truth is, working remotely has a lot of company benefits, which include: 

Employees want flextime

Research shows an astounding 99% of employees want at least some “flextime,” or the ability to work from home, according to a survey from Buffer. It’s such an attractive perk that 51% of employees would change jobs if it meant more flexible hours.

Companies that are willing to offer remote positions, or at the very least, a flexible schedule several days a week, will likely retain more employees as needs of the workforce change. 

Remote workers are more engaged

Engaged workers, those who are highly involved in their job and committed to their workplace, are often more productive, less likely to skip work, and genuinely want to do a good job for the company.

When employees have the chance to work remotely, engagement rates climb. Employees that work remotely 60-80% of the time have the highest engagement rates, according to a Gallup Poll. Workplaces with highly engaged employees report 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability.

Remote workers accomplish more, faster

Seventy-seven percent of remote employees say they’re more productive when they aren’t in the office, with 30% saying they get more done in less time and 24% saying they accomplish work at the same rate no matter where it’s being done, reports CoSo Cloud.

Reducing the carbon footprint

Sixty-seven percent of the American workforce has a commute that’s under an hour, according to Gallup. When workers aren’t commuting an hour to and from the office, it reduces the company’s carbon footprint. With fewer cars on the road, there are fewer pollutants released into the atmosphere.

Lesser-known tips to help remote workers be productive at home

Whether your workforce is new to working remotely or has been for some time, every remote employee can benefit from these tips:

Get started first thing

Working from home means there is minimal prep time and no commute, so you can get to work first thing. By doing so, you avoid trying to squeeze in a few household chores that can eat through your most productive morning hours.

Get dressed just like you would for the office

Yes, you can work in your sweat pants, but it’s best to keep a routine. Set an alarm, get up, and get dressed so you feel ready to start the day.

Have a dedicated workspace

Mentally, you need a space in your house that you use for work only. When you’re there, you know it’s work time. The workspace should be somewhere quiet where you can concentrate, take conference calls, and have limited access to distractions like TV.

Connect with coworkers regularly

To manage projects, expectations, and deadlines, you need to communicate. It becomes even more important when you can’t walk down the hall and talk to someone in their office. Schedule a time to talk every day or every other day.

Invest in tools to work as a team

There are plenty of tools that can help remote employees. We’ve created a list of resources that you can reference, but in general, look for tools with these functions:

o   Instant messaging

o   Video conferences

o   Project management

o   Time management

o   To-do lists

o   File sharing

Meal prep the night before

Make your lunch ahead of time and have a plan for dinner. If you have time, do some dinner prep to make your night go smoothly.

Have a cut off time

When you work from home, it’s hard not to check your emails, review a document, or make quick changes to a presentation at night, but you shouldn’t. You need a definitive time to stop working. Without a cut off time, you’ll feel like you’re always working and that can lead to burnout.

Wrap up

Working remotely is a growing trend in the workforce. In the future, more and more employees will seek out jobs with flexible schedules and work-from-home options. For those working remotely, there are certain cities that are better than others. Cities with fast, reliable internet, low cost of living, and a variety of alternative work locations are best.

Methodology

The following datasets were acquired through searching and data scraping on the web.

Rankings Weight Source
Cities with best coffee (This is a complex ranking utilizing a variety of variables related to coffee, including but not limited to price, coffee shops per capita, and coffee championship.)

1 unit

1/8 = 12.5 point

Cost of living including rent (This is an index for various city based on the consumer price index and rental index). 1 unit
Number of coworking spaces per 100,000 people 1 unit Yelp, data scrapped.
Coworking cost per state

2 units

25.0 point

Internet speed ranking 2 units
Commuting time rank 1 unit Data based on US census.