Interesting Places Remote Workers Are Moving
Cynthia Harvey, Informationweek 422 Times 319 People

When people can work from anywhere, where do they choose to live? The answers might surprise you.


When the pandemic began (two years ago!), most American white-collar workers suddenly found themselves working remotely. And many quickly realized that meant they could work from anywhere in the world if they were willing to move. 

At first, tech workers seemed to be abandoning metropolitan areas. Less populous states and small towns in the center of the US began offering cash incentives to people who were willing to try out a quieter area with a slower pace of life.

But now that pandemic life has become the new normal, things look a little different.

It's not that everyone has returned to the office full-time. Far from it, in fact. 

So, what is really happening?

Today, many workers continue to work remotely, but an even higher percentage are partially remote. That means they need to be close enough to get to the office when they need to, but maybe they can live a little farther out from the expensive cities. 

That dovetails nicely with findings from Brookings that workers were not very likely to move to the heartland, but maybe a little more likely to move to the suburbs.

But that may also be an over-simplification.

A joint report from Zillow and the US Census Bureau said,” Yes, in expensive cities like New York and San Francisco, people have been moving into the suburbs, but in inexpensive cities like Kansas City and Cleveland, people moved from the suburbs into the city. And some places, like Seattle and Miami seem to defy trends found in other parts of the country.

So, what is really happening?

Choosing where to live continues to be a complicated decision based on a lot of factors, including employment, housing costs, amenities, and quality of life. And the fact that more people are working from home at least some of the time didn't really change that equation.

In fact, a growing chorus of researchers is saying that today's remote workers are moving to the same parts of the US where people were choosing to move before the pandemic.

Where exactly is that?

In broad terms, census data reveals that people are moving to the South and the West. More specifically, several different organizations have used different criteria to publish lists of cities and towns that seem to be big gainers in this shuffling. 

The following 10 cities appear on a lot of these lists. These aren't necessarily the cities with the biggest population growth over the last two years, but these are cities with a high percentage of remote workers that are representative of the places people are choosing to move right now.

10. Seattle, Washington

Population: 753,675
Median Household Income: $102,486
Median Home Value: $767,000

If you expected that most remote workers would be moving to smaller towns in sunny climates, you might be pretty surprised to find Seattle in this list. Its home prices are the highest of any city on this list.

But Seattle is also home to a large number of tech companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Nintendo, which makes it attractive to workers who want to be mostly remote but still close enough to go into the office from time to time. 

If you like to work from a coffee shop, Seattle has you covered, and it also has a vibrant night life. The city was growing quickly before the pandemic, and that didn't really change when more workers went remote.

9. Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Population: 146,900
Median Household Income: $68,373
Median Home Value: $273,500

Located about 40 minutes south of Nashville, Murfreesboro is the largest suburb of Nashville right in the geographic center of Tennessee.

It's not the cheapest city on this list, but housing is affordable. And the weather is mild, particularly compared to the Midwest or New England. The town is quaint, and it's home to a Civil War battlefield and Middle Tennessee State University.

8. Meridian, Idaho

Population: 114,161
Median Household Income: $75,515
Median Home Value: $331,600

Since 1990, population in this popular suburb of Boise, Idaho has skyrocketed by 1000%, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.

Meridian is popular with remote workers for several reasons. 

First, the weather is surprisingly sunny with low humidity. And Idaho is a haven for those who love the outdoors with easy access to skiing, mountain biking, hiking, watersports, hunting, fishing, and more. 

Crime is low, and you still have easy access to city amenities like excellent restaurants and an international airport. Idaho has long been a hidden gem, but it's not so hidden any more as more remote workers relocate to the state.

7. South Jordan, Utah

Population: 76,598
Median Household Income: $108,626
Median Home Value: $475,200

Like Meridian, South Jordan fits in with the trends of remote workers moving to the suburbs and to the West. Housing prices are little high in this southern suburb of Salt Lake City, but it also has the highest median household income of any city on this list. 

It was founded by Mormon settlers in the middle of the nineteenth century. Crime is low, and the city is family friendly. It also provides easy access to both outdoor recreation and city attractions, plus it has some spectacular mountain scenery.

6. Buckeye, Arizona

Population: 79,620
Median Household Income: $83,348
Median Home Value: $248,700

Another fast-growing western suburb, Buckeye is on the far fringes of the Phoenix metropolitan area. It has a definite small-town feel, and the ratio of household income to home value is one of the best of any of the cities in this slideshow.

Buckeye was growing fast before the pandemic, and that trend has continued as remote workers seek the sunshine. It has a lot of parks and golf courses, and more young people than you might expect for a state that has a reputation for attracting retirees. It's also right on I-10, making it easy to get in and out of town.

5. Fort Myers, Florida

Population: 87,103
Median Household Income: $53,246
Median Home Value: $263,700

Also known as a haven for retirees, Fort Myers has also been attracting growing numbers of remote workers. Of course, the beaches make it a popular tourist destination, but this section of Florida feels a lot like a friendly small town.
Thomas Edison and Henry Ford both spent a great deal of time in Fort Myers, and the town also has a number of historic buildings. 

4. Austin, Texas

Population: 978,908
Median Household Income: $75,413
Median Home Value: $378,300

The state capital of Texas, Austin has the largest population of any of the cities on this list (although it's the largest when you consider the surrounding metro area). 

The city has plenty to attract remote workers -- good weather, access to city amenities, nearby tech firms, no state income tax, and more. But the truth is that most remote workers who move to Austin do so because they love the city's unique quirkiness that gives rise to slogans like, “Keep Austin weird”. 

It's home to a thriving community of artists and musicians, as well as plenty of excellent barbecue. And despite its size, residents say that Austin often feels like a small town where people are genuinely friendly.

3. Wilmington, Delaware

Population: 70,166
Median Household Income: $47,772
Median Home Value: $174,400

Wilmington is the largest city in Delaware, but still the smallest city on this list. It also has the lowest household income and lowest median home value of any city on this list. It's also the only city from this set that isn't in the South or West. 

Despite this location, it is very popular with remote workers. According to LinkedIn, 35.9% of the job applications from this city are more remote positions.

It's about halfway between Washington, D.C., and New York City, as well as just a half hour away from Philadelphia. It's also a thriving small city in its own right.

2. Asheville, North Carolina

Population: 92,870
Median Household Income: $52,339
Median Home Value: $329,500

Like Wilmington, Asheville is home to a lot of remote workers. According to LinkedIn, 38.7% of the applications from this small city are for remote jobs. 

It's the largest city in western North Carolina, but still has plenty of small-town feel. Its location in the Blue Ridge Mountains makes it very beautiful, and the numerous historic homes in the area make it even more picturesque. 

It's warm, but less humid than some other parts of the south thanks to its higher elevation. It’s popular with tourists who come to tour the Biltmore Estate or drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it has plenty of things to do.

1. Bend, Oregon

Population: 100,421
Median Household Income: $69,998
Median Home Value: $426,600

Bend comes in at No. 1 of this list because it not only continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, but it also has the highest percentage of remote job applications of any US city (41.8%). 

This small city is a paradise for people who love to be outdoors. It sits right where the desert meets the forest, with a river running through, and mountains nearby -- meaning that you can find just about any kind of outdoor recreation that you might enjoy. 

Home prices have really climbed, but that doesn't seem to be slowing down the number of people moving to the area, which includes plenty of remote workers.


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