Despite declining COVID-19 levels, America’s “Great Resignation” is continuing apace. In February, for example, nearly 4.5 million people quit their jobs, and there were twice as many open jobs than unemployed workers, according to government data.
While more employers bring workers back to the office as the pandemic appears to wind down, the tight labor market suggests flexible work options are here to stay. Many companies have permanently embraced remote work.
Where are the best cities to live if you are no longer tethered to a work commute? Ownerly analyzed 445 cities across the nation, looking at rent and housing prices, cost of living, safety data, level of broadband and free Wi-Fi coverage. Besides expanding our list of cities by nearly 50% from our 2021 Best Zoom Towns list , we also added new metrics that include cost and availability of childcare, restaurants and coworking spaces. This year, we also leaned on city-level data rather than metro-level data wherever possible.
- Small cities are havens for remote work. Fourteen of our top 25 cities for remote work have populations of under 100,000. Midsize cities (population of under 250,000) accounted for six of our picks, while five cities have a population of more than 250,000.
- The Midwest and Northeast states are best for remote work. In our top 25 cities, 11 were from Midwestern states and nine from the Northeast. Three cities were from Western states and only two from the South.
- The West Coast is not the best coast for Zoom Towns. Although California and the Pacific Northwest are known for tech giants that enabled the remote work revolution, the high cost of living locked West Coast cities out of top 25 contention.
- New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio are the top states for remote workers. Cities in these states also do well when looking at top Zoom Towns by size and region. While cities from Southern states didn’t rank well overall, Texas and Georgia cities account for five of our top 15 midsize cities for remote workers.
#7 Cheyenne, Wyoming
The only Western city to make our top 10 list, Cheyenne is the capital city of Wyoming, located in the southeastern corner of the state. For a smaller city, there are many options for free Wi-Fi per capita, and it offers the most affordable restaurant prices among our top Zoom Towns. Cheyenne is cowboy country and celebrates its heritage with its annual Frontier Days, a 10-day celebration that features rodeos, chuck wagon races, concerts and other events. For outdoor enthusiasts, nearby Medicine Bow National Forest and Curt Gowdy State Park offer year-long activities for rock climbers, boaters, campers and fishermen. For quick getaways, Cheyenne is about a 100-mile drive to both Denver and the Rocky Mountain National Park.
More About Ownerly
For this study, Ownerly examined 1,488 micropolitan statistical areas (MSA) and cities as identified by the US Census Bureau. After vetting missing data and incorporating averages from MSAs and states where applicable, the final list of places and MSAs was limited to 445 cities.
They ranked metrics based on a weighted average of home values, rental costs, web connectivity, safety, park access, availability of coworking spaces, city and state-level athletic health levels and gym options, affordability of goods and services and utilities, as well as affordability and availability of childcare services and restaurants. In all cases, they used the latest available data. Data was, in some instances, limited by delays in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic.