The best (and worst) cities for remote workers

If you'd like to continue to work remotely post-pandemic, here are the best and worst cities to live in, according to a new report from LawnStarter.

Working from home

Image: iStock/taidundua

Whether you've just grown accustomed to daily life as a remote worker or you're determined never to go back into a brick-and-mortar office again, you have a good chance to continue the telecommuting life. According to a Stanford University economist, the coronavirus pandemic so dramatically changed the US workforce that it now has a working-from-home economy, as he cites 42% of American employees now work remotely. He points out an interesting fact: If we didn't have the ability to work remotely, and had to shut down and lockdown during the first few months of the pandemic, economies would be in complete collapse. And, if the disastrous economy sent workers back to businesses and offices too soon, the numbers of COVID-19 cases would've reignited, creating another cycle of lockdown, which would further tank the economy. 

SEE: Return to work: What the new normal will look like post-pandemic (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

In essence, the ability to work remotely--and the COVID-19 pandemic happening in a time when we have the technology to do so--has saved the economy and, hopefully, saved lives.

Many big businesses, such as Twitter, have found remote work so effective that they've announced workers will have the opportunity to continue to work remotely as long as they'd like. Now, a new report from lawn-care services company LawnStarter, 2020's Best Cities for Remote Workers, reveals the best (and worst) places to live for those who favor telecommuting. 

LawnStarter researched data that compared the 150 biggest US cities across 15 key factors, such as remote job opportunities, internet speed, and cost of living.

rsz-best-cities-for-remote-workers-2.jpg

Image: LawnStarter

Surprisingly, the top 10 best cities list could've been written by the Texas Board of Tourism, since eight of the 10 (80%) are in Texas. The Austin-based LawnStarter added a disclaimer citing that it did not influence the results. Seven of the Texas cities are in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and the report showed each earned high scores in the work environment and connectivity categories, as well as in costs and opportunities.

While instinct might suggest big metropolitan cities would be conducive to remote work, it turns out that mid-sized cities are the safest bets for remote workers. Larger cities do not rank well in the cost category, due to the cost of living, workplace safety, and rental prices. And when it comes to the metrics such as co-working spaces, food delivery, or job opportunities, smaller cities can't compete. Mid-sized cities refers to cities like Fayetteville, Ark.; Orlando, Fla.; and Reno, Nev. 

SEE: Your office will look very different when you return. Here's what is changing (TechRepublic)

A big draw to a city is one that has the benefits, opportunities, and accessibilities of a large city, but at much reduced rates; an example is Overland Park, Kan., which is a suburb of Kansas City. If you want to be near Manhattan but don't want to pay the second-highest rent in the US, try other suburbs like Yonkers.  

The Golden State is leaden, apparently. California was consistently at the bottom of LawnStarter's rankings, even mid-sized cities like Santa Ana or suburbs like Moreno Valley. LawnStarter suggests visiting California on holiday, but don't look to the state for remote work opportunities. 

Best cities for remote workers

  1. McKinney, Texas
  2. Frisco, Texas
  3. Plano, Texas
  4. Irving, Texas
  5. Garland, Texas
  6. Yonkers, NY
  7.  Austin, Texas
  8. Fort Worth, Texas
  9. Dallas, Texas
  10. Orlando, Fla.

The report offers up an interactive chart of all the cities reviewed for remote work potential.

Worst cities for remote workers

  1. Boston, MA
  2. Oxnard, Calif.
  3. San Bernardino, Calif.
  4. Elk Grove, Calif.
  5. Ontario, Calif.
  6. Lexington, Ky.
  7. Anchorage, Alaska
  8. Bakersfield, Calif.
  9. Moreno Valley, Calif.
  10. Honolulu, Hawaii

Methodology

LawnStarter used the following to determine the best and worst remote cities: Opportunity and earning potential, work environment (personal workspace, median home square footage per average number of persons in a household, co-working spaces, workplace safety), connectivity and convenience (internet speed, broadband coverage, food delivery), and costs (of living, rent, housing, utilities, internet, income tax).

Also see