The Best Work-From-Home Cities for 2022

 The work-from-home revolution continues. According to a late-2021 Gallup poll, 25% of Americans still work exclusively from home. While that’s down from its COVID-era peak, it’s far more than the 5.7% the Census reported in 2019. And as the geography of work across the US and Canada is changing, the geography of life can change as well.

We’ve seen that here at PCMag, where we’ve become a remote-first organization and watched our staff shift to where they’re more comfortable. Our US editors now log in from Atlanta, Boulder, Pittsburgh, and Portland, among other cities that are far-flung from our offices in New York City. In Canada, our formerly Montreal-based operation now has a significant Ontario component.

This second edition of Best Work-From-Home Cities incorporates suggestions from our own remote staff and new data partners with details like which cities now offer incentives for remote workers. We feature returning winners like Chattanooga (#4, last year #1) and Philadelphia (#5, up from #11) as well as new choices like Murfreesboro, TN (#6) and Huntsville, AL (#7). 

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga made its name as a "gig city" in 2010 when it became the first US city to roll out a citywide, municipal fiber network. (Photo: Getty Images/joe daniel price)

What Makes an Ideal WFH Location?

The number-one requirement for a good work-from-home location is fast, reliable Internet access, according to Gitlab’s head of remote Darren Murph. For us, that means fiber. Working from home means you're (hopefully) contributing as much as you're taking. It's a two-way experience, with video calls and file uploads. Fiber is more symmetrical than cable, and it doesn’t come with data caps.

On Cox Cable, many plans are limited to 10Mbps or 35Mbps uploads, and there's a 1.25TB data cap. That wouldn’t work for YouTuber Stetson Doggett, who works from his home in Longmont, CO (#17). He and his roommate used 1.4TB in the two weeks before we interviewed him! Spectrum doesn't have data caps, but its upload speeds are as low as 35Mbps even on a gigabit plan. Fiber, by and large, doesn't have those limits.

When we spoke to our own staff who went remote, having enough space to work and green spaces to get out to when you're not working took center stage. Remote work experts Murph and Ed Zitron, head of all-remote PR firm EZPR, agree. Having a decent, dedicated space to work in—which means an affordable, large-enough house—is a top priority for a work-at-home lifestyle, Zitron said, although plentiful nearby co-working spaces can help make up for that. Co-working spaces made it into our criteria this year when they didn't last year.

And when you need to get out of your spacious house, it's nice to have somewhere to get out to.

"Peace and quiet are incubators for calm thinking and clear analysis," Murph says.

Check out the video below to see a few of our top work-from-home cities:

In our first edition and previous features during the pandemic, we focused on small cities or rural towns which offered a real escape from crowded living; there was a sense that you probably wouldn't be leaving your house, and definitely wouldn't be meeting with other people in person again.

That's changed. For this edition, we prioritized places with not only spacious homes but easy access to major airports. Remote work experts we spoke to said that people will still want to get together—they’ll just do so more occasionally than by dropping into an office daily.

"Travel will become even more important in a remote world," Murph said. "Aim to be near a great, affordable, well-serviced airport."

That factor bumped Chattanooga, our #1 city last year, down to #4 in our list. Chattanooga is affordable, beautiful, and has widespread gigabit Internet—but with only 10 destinations served by its airport, it's harder to get out of than, say, Milwaukie, OR (#2), which offers 49 nonstop destinations.

Incentives are a new twist this year. Cities and states outside the “superstar” metro areas have started to compete for remote workers, although some deals (such as “free land” in the heartland) can be less enticing than they appear. Evan Hock started MakeMyMove in December of 2020 to track incentives and says he’s seen traffic to his site increasing every month. Cash helps, like the $7,500 offered in Springfield, VT (#8.) But Hock said he really likes incentives that emphasize the “importance of belonging” and plug new residents into a community. Bemidji, MN (#22) bundles cash, co-working space membership, consultations with a remote-work expert, and a “community concierge” so the far North doesn’t feel cold.

Murph and Zitron also cited low taxes as reasons to make a move; we did not factor that into our ratings this year, because it’s a complicated topic. Murph points out that Florida, Texas, Wyoming, Alaska, Tennessee, Nevada, and Washington have no state income tax. Alabama, Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, New York, and Pennsylvania all offer state tax breaks for people working at home. But things can get even more complicated based on the state your employer is in.

This is a "work from home" feature, so we aren't looking at some of the factors which inform general best-places lists, like schools and crime, and taxes. To take some of those factors into account, we gave bonus points to places in or near cities featured on US News and World Report's or Money Magazine's lists of best places to move to, such as Huntsville, AL (#7) and Overland Park, KS (#15).

Keyport, New Jersey
New Jersey towns like Keyport are close enough to New York City to take advantage of the city's amenities, but can feel a world away. (Photo: Shutterstock/FotosForTheFuture)

Staying Close, or Going Far?

Statistics have shown that once people are freed from their offices, they usually don't go all that far. Real estate firm CBRE did a study of people who moved during the pandemic, and found that while urban centers had 15% more move-outs in 2020 than in 2019, "most of the moves in the pandemic were short to moderate distances, often to nearby counties."

San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, and Seattle all saw drops in people moving in, and increases in people moving out. Where were they going? Sacramento (near Rio Linda, #36) saw the most improvement in net move-ins last year, with moves from San Francisco County to Sacramento County increasing by 70%. People weren't moving far—just far enough. The #1 beneficiary of move-outs in the New York City area by percentage growth, according to CBRE, was the nearby state of Connecticut. By numbers, it was New York state (Stony Point, #9) and New Jersey (Keyport, #3).

Of course, a short move can just whet the appetite for a longer one. Zitron moved from San Francisco to nearby Oakland, to slightly-farther-away Danville, and finally to Las Vegas (Spring Valley, #14), where he says he can still hop a plane and be back in the Bay Area in an hour.

CBRE has a really neat online tool showing where people in your area have been moving from, or to.

Our top three choices are all towns on the fringes of bustling cities, where you can dip into the city in case indoor dining ever becomes a thing again. (We still share the small-town love with entries like returning Springfield, VT (#8).) With real-estate prices spiking, many of our choices are more expensive this year, although you can still find sub-$300,000, three-bedroom homes in cities like Chattanooga (#4).

When it all comes together, that can be work-from-home magic. Our #1 choice this year, Layton, Utah, combines large homes, gorgeous mountains, and easy access to an airport hub.

The Best Cities to Work From Home in Canada 

Canada is going through a massive spike in real-estate prices, which changed some of our priorities. Home prices nationwide are up 17.7% from 2020, according to CREA. Benchmark prices in greater Toronto and greater Vancouver are now both over $1 million. In any discussion of working from home in Canada, housing prices must be topic number one.

Affordability and metropolitan options make Edmonton our #1 choice in Canada this year. Edmonton is the least-expensive Canadian major city, it has gigabit-fiber Internet, and it isn't isolated, with more than 4 million people within a few hours' drive and 36 nonstop destinations from its airport.

Atlantic Canada still offers a great balance of affordability and the great outdoors, outpacing Alberta four to three with the most cities on our list. Moncton/Dieppe, our #1 choice last year, comes in at #2 because we’re giving a bit more weight to big-city amenities this time around. But Halifax, last year's top large city, has gotten hit hard by the overheating real estate market, with benchmark prices soaring towards $500,000. It’s now #4.

We also tried to pick the best suburbs near the high-cost areas in Ontario, BC (Nobleton/King, #8) and Montreal (Ile-Perrot, #6). In all cases, getting away from the city–far enough to drive, but outside the first ring of suburbs–was key. Like many of the people in the CBRE study above, you may find that a short move can improve your lifestyle as much as a long one.

Edmonton, Alberta
Edmonton gives you big-city amenities at a fraction of the price of Toronto or Vancouver. (Photo: Getty Images/Wei Fang)

US Methodology

This isn't a general "best place to live" list; we are focusing specifically on what makes a place great for remote work, including:

  • Home prices from the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI)

  • Gigabit broadband verification from Ookla

  • Broadband providers and prices from BroadbandNow

  • Remote worker incentives from MakeMyMove

  • Nearby coworking spaces from Google Places

  • Median home size from the US Census American Community Survey, 2019

  • Coastal/mountain proximity using Mapbox maps in Tableau

  • Third-party endorsements from US News & World Report and Money Magazine

  • Proximity to a Top 50 US airport as per the Bureau of Transportation Statistics

We started with three hard gates. Ookla provided an initial list of more than 1,000 localities where it verified residential gigabit broadband was being used in late 2021. We then eliminated all places where the ZHVI was above $550,000, which got rid of high-profile, but now high-cost places like Austin, Boulder, and Seattle. Finally, we eliminated anywhere BroadbandNow couldn't verify at least 40% of the city's area had access to fiber broadband.

From there, we combined the list with the other criteria, based on a modified point system with our own editorial judgment.

That then resulted in a list with a lot of nearby suburbs clustered together. In the case of a cluster, we picked the most appealing place in the cluster (a 30-50 mile radius) and bumped it up the list to represent the strength of the metro area.

Canada Methodology

We used a different set of data partners for Canada, but with the same basic philosophy. Our data here includes:

  • Home prices from the Canadian Real Estate Association

  • Gigabit broadband verification from Ookla 

  • Broadband prices from Bell, Telus, Rogers, and TBayTel 

  • Nearby coworking spaces from Google Places 

  • Median home size from Statcan 

  • Median income from Statcan

  • Percentage of local workers in the arts from Statcan 

  • Proximity to a major metro area from Google

The absolutely bonkers real-estate prices in the Toronto and lower BC areas meant we couldn’t put a hard cap on housing costs the way we could in the US. We tried to pick the most appealing places in those areas based on our criteria, knowing that many people want or need to be in those parts of the country.

Use the table of contents at the top of the page or click through the locations below to read about our top 40 US cities and top 10 Canadian cities.

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