Discover 5 of the Best Places in the U.S. to Work Remotely
If you’re a renter and work from home, the world is at your fingertips. You can move and work from nearly anywhere. If you’re considering an upcoming move, but you’re not sure where to go, here are five of the best places to work remotely in the U.S., based on general appeal and quality of life. Plus, learn how to choose the right location, if you should rent or buy, and why insurance should be at the top of your to-do list.
Top 5 cities for working remotely
If you’re ready for change, you’re not alone. In fact, between 14 million and 23 million Americans plan to move now that they can work remotely, according to a new study done by Upwork.1
With greater flexibility, people are choosing more affordable locations to live, as well as places where they can prioritize their quality of life over a commute. This may mean moving closer to family, or choosing a location where they can spend more time doing activities they enjoy. Here are five of the top-rated locations for working remotely:2,3
1. Portland, Maine:
If you enjoy quintessential New England charm, Portland may be for you. It’s a picturesque city on the coast of Maine that boasts incredible architecture, thriving restaurants and one of the highest counts of craft breweries per capita in the nation.4 Relative to the rest of the country, Portland’s cost of living is about 13% higher than average, and the median home price is $433,403.5 But, the city’s location, beauty and quality of life is worth the expense. Plus, if you take commuting costs out of the equation, Portland may be more affordable than you realize.
2. Boulder, Colorado:
Want to head to the mountains? Try Boulder. U.S. News and World Report named it the #1 Best Place to Live in America from 2020 to 2021.3 Close your eyes and imagine the view of the Rocky Mountains, and easy access to incredible skiing, mountain biking and hiking. At the end of the day, you can enjoy Boulder’s Pearl Street, which was named one of the top Foodie Streets in America.3 Keep in mind, Boulder is a bit pricey, so you’ll need to plan for a higher cost of living (67% higher than the national average). You can expect the median home cost to be $738,400.6
3. Burlington, Vermont:
If you’re an avid skier, but want to reside on the East Coast, consider Burlington. This college town (actually, city) offers eclectic restaurants, shops and an art scene. It’s situated on beautiful Lake Champlain, where you can enjoy boating and other water sports in the summer months.3 Similar to Portland, Burlington does have New England’s higher cost of living (the median home price is $509,743, which is 21% above the national average). But, again, the improved quality of life, and easy access to skiing and hiking, may be worth any increase in costs.7
4. Tucson, Arizona:
Looking to reside in more of a warm-weather location? Explore the city of Tucson, Arizona. This southwestern city hardly ever gets below 40 degrees. It’s cost of living is also about 8% below the national average, so finding an apartment in budget may be a bit easier. If you’re ready to buy, you can expect the average cost of a home to be $200,000 or less. Tucson offers a robust arts scene, surrounded by the beauty of the desert. Finally, if you like to bike, you’re in luck. Tucson is rated as one of the most bikeable cities in the U.S.3
5. Columbus, Ohio:
When dreaming of new cities, Columbus may not come to mind first. But this thriving city has a lot going for it. First, it’s very affordable. The average cost of living is 14.5% below the national average, and if you’d like to buy, the average home price is $73,000 below the national average. The city also has invested in quality park space for its residents, and offers incredible art and science museums where you can pass your free time. Best of all, most of the city is walkable. So you can put away your car and get some exercise while heading around town.3
How to decide to rent or buy property
Once you’ve decided on your ideal location, whether it’s the mountains, coast or somewhere in between, you’ll want to investigate renting or buying property. Your decision should be guided by how much money you have in savings, as well as how long you plan to stay in your new location.8
If you’d like to buy a home, make sure:
You’re ready to stay a while.
Most experts recommend that you stay in a home at least four to five years to make it financially worthwhile. If you think your stay will be shorter, then you should opt to rent. Another option? Rent property in a new location first to make sure it’s right for you. Then buy.
You’re financially prepared.
It’s important to tally up how much a mortgage would cost you every month, and to leave room for additional expenses, like utilities, homeowners insurance and more. If you’re working from home full-time, it might impact the cost of your homeowners insurance, too. If you have a solid income but don’t have a significant down payment saved to put down on a home, don’t fret. Many first-time homeowners don’t need to put down the full 20% down payment. In fact, in 2019, the average first-time buyer’s down payment was just 6%.9
Remember, it’s OK to continue renting, too. It all comes down to your financial and personal situations. If your future plans are still up in the air—maybe you’re considering a new job, relationship or even another move—continuing to rent could be the right choice. Home ownership is best suited when you’re ready to stay long-term and invest in a community.9
Understand your insurance needs
No matter if you decide to rent or buy, you’ll want to get a solid insurance policy. If you’re a renter, you’ll want to purchase renters insurance. In many cases, it’s required by landlords. It’s there to help cover your valuables from theft, water damage, vandalism, fires and much more. As you are purchasing a policy, be sure to discuss the coverages with your insurance representative. This way, you won’t be surprised if you need to make a claim, and you’ll have the opportunity to add supplemental insurance, if you think you need more.
Follow these tips to help you identify your coverage needs:
Examine your belongings.
Chances are, they’re worth more than you realize. Think about your laptop, clothing, shoes, jewelry and more. If you add it all up, it could be worth thousands of dollars. Without renters insurance, you could face a major financial loss if something were to happen.
Think about your work equipment.
If you’re working from home and using company equipment, ask your employer how to handle potential damage. But, if you’ve invested in your own laptop and other electronics, you should make sure your policy offers enough coverage. Bottom line: Have enough to fully replace the equipment you use to work from home.
Consider more if you own a business.
If you’re a freelancer or own another type of business where you work remotely, you probably need to buy business insurance, too. That’s because, most renters and homeowners insurance policies won’t fully protect you if an incident occurs in your dedicated “workspace.” Your business workspace is the area of your home, whether it’s an office or a kitchen corner, that you use for your company.10 And, if you meet with clients in your home, you’ll want to talk to an insurance representative about adding liability coverage. After all, you’ll need protection if there’s ever an accident, injury or property damage associated with your work.
Next up? Get excited for your new move. Life can be short. So, if you have the freedom to live in a location that brings you joy, you should take the leap. Just remember to prioritize your finances, whether that means renting or buying, and purchase insurance to protect your belongings along the way.
- Now That More Americans Can Work From Anywhere, Many Are Planning To Move Away, NPR, 2020.
- The Best Work-From-Home Cities for 2021, PC, 2021.
- The 7 Best Cities For Remote Workers In 2021, Forbes, 2021.
- These Cities Have the Most Breweries Per Capita, Food and Wine, 2019.
- Cost of Living in Portland, Maine, Payscale, 2021.
- Cost of Living in Boulder, Colorado, BestPlaces.net, 2021.
- Cost of Living in Burlington, Vermont, Payscale, 2021.
- Should You Rent or Buy, MoneyUnder30, 2020.
- Should I Buy a House? How to Tell if You’re Ready? NerdWallet, 2019.
- What are the IRS Home Office Rules, The Balance, 2020.