Telecommuting was once a luxury — now it’s the norm, and quite possibly the future. As of June 2020, a whopping 42% of the U.S. labor force was working from home, up from just 8.2% in February.
The transition to working remotely has been so huge and fast that it’s created a whole new sector of the labor force — dubbed the “working-from-home economy” — a trend researchers predict will outlast the pandemic.
For many workers, a remote arrangement means greater flexibility in location. But not every city is cut out for telecommuting success.
So what’s the best city to work a remote job? To find out, LawnStarter compared the 150 biggest U.S. cities across 15 key factors, such as remote job opportunities, internet speed, and the cost of renting a home office.
Dive in to the data to find the perfect city for a telecommuting lifestyle. (We’ve already ordered our standing treadmill desk.)
Table of Contents
|OVERALL RANK||City||Overall Score||Opportunity and Earning Potential Rank||Work Environment Rank||Connectivity and Convenience Rank||Costs Rank|
|8||Fort Worth, TX||59.83||78||46||10||17|
|11||Jersey City, NJ||58.49||2||14||24||122|
|15||Overland Park, KS||57.68||33||4||58||94|
|17||Port St. Lucie, FL||57.42||64||60||40||22|
|21||Fort Lauderdale, FL||57.11||5||105||38||51|
|23||San Antonio, TX||56.66||116||102||13||14|
|39||Fort Wayne, IN||53.73||125||50||132||8|
|40||El Paso, TX||53.73||131||97||85||6|
|42||Newport News, VA||53.63||81||51||79||47|
|44||Virginia Beach, VA||53.42||57||34||88||80|
|45||Salt Lake City, UT||53.30||56||39||87||77|
|46||Corpus Christi, TX||53.25||113||100||69||15|
|48||Grand Rapids, MI||52.99||112||126||36||29|
|50||Oklahoma City, OK||52.95||109||91||47||41|
|59||St. Louis, MO||52.25||105||103||52||39|
|62||Huntington Beach, CA||51.75||8||12||18||139|
|65||St. Paul, MN||51.55||58||88||22||100|
|68||Grand Prairie, TX||51.40||15||5||78||128|
|69||St. Petersburg, FL||51.34||36||96||119||50|
|77||Sioux Falls, SD||50.81||94||117||106||27|
|86||Colorado Springs, CO||49.87||72||47||139||75|
|87||Cape Coral, FL||49.79||59||79||123||73|
|88||Baton Rouge, LA||49.79||130||113||72||59|
|93||Rancho Cucamonga, CA||49.07||27||85||34||118|
|95||Las Vegas, NV||49.02||89||112||109||60|
|97||San Diego, CA||48.83||48||31||21||133|
|98||Little Rock, AR||48.76||106||78||131||70|
|102||Kansas City, MO||48.34||99||118||102||71|
|103||Des Moines, IA||48.24||104||65||130||87|
|106||Los Angeles, CA||47.80||75||37||5||140|
|109||Long Beach, CA||47.44||31||69||42||126|
|114||Santa Clarita, CA||46.65||21||52||98||123|
|116||New Orleans, LA||46.10||136||134||80||93|
|119||San Jose, CA||45.55||20||28||56||141|
|124||Chula Vista, CA||44.72||30||58||114||130|
|125||San Francisco, CA||44.71||11||19||9||150|
|131||New York, NY||43.42||74||66||3||147|
|133||Santa Ana, CA||43.14||34||90||81||132|
|136||Santa Rosa, CA||42.84||63||62||68||137|
|140||North Las Vegas, NV||41.85||65||110||99||129|
|143||San Bernardino, CA||41.60||93||149||89||113|
|144||Elk Grove, CA||41.18||22||30||60||148|
|149||Moreno Valley, CA||38.01||70||141||11||145|
Don’t Mess with Texas
With a whopping eight of our top 10 cities, the Lonestar State dominates our ranking. (Full disclosure: LawnStarter is headquartered in Austin, but we promise that our Texan pride didn’t influence the results here.)
Texas cities — seven of them in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex — earned many of the highest scores in the Work Environment and Connectivity categories while also getting decent scores in Costs and Opportunities.
In other words, Texas is a well-rounded place for remote work, which comes as no surprise, considering it’s one of the fastest-growing states in the nation.
Meet Me in the Middle
Mid-sized cities are safe bets for remote workers. Larger cities tend to falter when it comes to cost of living, workplace safety, and rental prices. And smaller cities can’t compete on metrics like coworking spaces, food delivery, or job opportunities.
Not too hot and not too cold, mid-sized cities like Fayetteville, North Carolina; Orlando, Florida; and Reno, Nevada, are just right.
Rockin’ the ’Burbs
Suburbs ranked well on our list — and for good reason. They boast some of the benefits and accessibility of major cities but at cheaper prices. Not feeling Kansas City, Missouri, income taxes? Try Overland Park, Kansas.
Want to escape those sky-high New York City prices? Head on over to Yonkers. Suburbs are a great choice for that new, remote-work lifestyle that won’t break the bank.
Not All that Glitters Is Gold
One location to avoid is California. The Golden State consistently finds itself at the bottom of our ranking, even California’s mid-sized cities like Santa Ana or suburbs like Moreno Valley.
High on costs and low on good workplace factors like safety or available personal space, California may be better for a vacation than a telecommuting life.
Ask The Experts
Working remotely has become normal for many Americans in recent months, but how can we better cope with the workaday world while juggling keeping an eye on our kids and remembering to take breaks and not work long into the night?
We asked the experts for answers to these questions:
- What less obvious advantages are there, if any, to working remotely?
- Beyond traditional benefits — insurance coverage, paid time off, retirement contribution matches — that many employers offer, what non-traditional perks should companies consider giving workers in light of the challenges of working remotely?
- As companies move away from working in traditional offices to remote environments, local economies are likely to be impacted by lower tax revenues from declining commercial real estate and public transit. Where should cities look to replace the lost revenue in both the short and long terms?
- What are the three most effective ways for remote workers to stay creative?
- Remote work can sometimes heighten feelings of isolation and stress. How can remote workers most effectively manage their mental health during the pandemic?
- There are many sources offering advice on how to effectively work remotely. What’s the best way to filter “good” advice and tune out the noise?
- If you could live anywhere as a remote worker, where would you live and why? And why not be a digital nomad instead of being tied to one location? Beach town in winter, Denver or Maine in summer, for example. Maybe use our best cities for remote workers as a bucket list spending six months in various locations.
Associate Professor, Division of Behavioral & Organizational Sciences, Claremont Graduate University
Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
Assistant Professor, Georgia Tech, School of Psychology
Associate Professor, Organization and Human Resources Department, University at Buffalo, School of Management
George W. Taylor Professor of Management, Director – Center for Human Resources, The Wharton School, and Professor of Education, University of Pennsylvania
To design our ranking of 2020’s Best Cities for Remote Workers, LawnStarter first determined four key categories of factors that are necessary for telework success, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. Those categories include Opportunity and Earning Potential; Work Environment; Connectivity and Convenience; and Costs.
We then identified 15 metrics related to the four categories using the most recently available data. The categories and their corresponding metrics are listed below with the score we assigned to each. For our sample, we chose the 150 most populated U.S. cities, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
We then added up the scores across all categories for each of the 150 biggest U.S. cities to arrive at the final ranking, which is based on their overall scores, the highest being 100. The city with the highest score ranked No. 1, or “best,” while the city with the lowest score ranked No. 150, or “worst.”
1. Opportunity and Earning Potential (Total Points: 15)
- Remote Job Opportunities: 10 Points
Note: Measures number of remote job opportunities per total population in labor force
- Median Household Income: 5 Points
2. Work Environment (Total Points: 17)
- Availability of Personal Workspace: 7 Points
Note: Measures median home square footage per average number of persons in a household
- Availability of Coworking Spaces: 5 Points
Note: Measures number of shared office spaces
- Workplace Safety: 5 Points
Note: Measures city’s position in LawnStarter’s “Best and Worst U.S. Cities to Be Stuck at Home” ranking
3. Connectivity and Convenience (Total Points: 27)
- Internet Accessibility: 5 Points
Note: Measures number of internet providers
- Average Internet Speed: 10 Points
- Broadband Coverage: 7 Points
- Access to Food Delivery: 5 Points
Note: Measures number of food delivery apps
4. Costs (Total Points: 41)
- Cost-of-Living Index: 7 Points
- Home Office Rent: 7 Points
Note: Measures median home rental price per square foot as a proxy for “home office rental price”
- Housing: 7 Points
Note: Measures median home price per square foot as a proxy for “housing costs”
- Utilities: 5 Points
Note: Measures cost of basic utilities, such as water, electricity, garbage, heating and cooling
- Internet: 10 Points
Note: Measures cost for 60 Mbps or more, unlimited data, cable/ADSL
- Income Tax: 5 Points
Sources: AreaVibes, Beyond Menu, BroadbandNow, Caviar, Delivery.com, DoorDash, Foodie Call, GrubHub, Homes.com, Indeed, LawnStarter, Numbeo, Postmates, Tax Foundation, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, UberEATS, Yelp and Zillow
Main photo credit: Brenda Ryan / LawnStarter