Remote work is amazing. While some employees are better at it than others, working from home is a benefit more employers are offering. But are some cities better than others for the remote-working lifestyle?
Popular WiFi and connectivity measurement service Speedtest (from Ookla) recently examined its large pool of data to ask: Where are the fastest average internet connections? It limited its scope to the 100 largest metro areas in the United States, and only used data from September 2018. (Its ‘Speed Score’ is “a weighted measure of mean download and upload speeds that also considers performance at the lowest and highest tiers.”)
From there, Ookla partnered with Zillow to examine median home values for those 100 metro areas. While remote work means you can work from anywhere you like, most of us will work from a home office most of the time. This makes home pricing critical; you may be able to convince your employer that remote work is a great idea, but they (likely) won’t pay for your home.
According to its weighted findings, Chattanooga, TN is the best place for remote work. Impressively fast internet connectivity and affordable housing put it in the lead. If being close to the border of Georgia isn’t your speed, second-place Shreveport, LA is near the Texas border – and sports the most affordable housing in the top ten (and second-most-affordable overall).
If you want to be really flashy and source Gigabit internet speeds, Ookla notes that only four metro areas on its top 25 list fail to have it (including Shreveport and El Paso in the top ten). We’ll note that four of the top ten cities are Google Fiber hubs, and many others are near Fiber cities (it’s really too bad that Google abandoned its uber-fast internet service; not only was it a straightforward way to get gigabit internet, it was a call-to-action for other internet service providers).
This study on remote work is also interesting because no western state ranks. We’ve noted many times that Silicon Valley should be avoided for many tech pros, and Ookla’s study underscores as much:
Four metros on our list of 25 best metros for remote workers are in the Southwest, three of which are in Texas. Sadly, the western U.S. loses out completely. Though left coast tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Seattle have access to internet speeds that make developers drool, high median home prices keep them out of the running. Instead, these digital strongholds are fast becoming the kinds of places that remote workers flee in the great rush toward more livable second cities.
There’s a lot to unpack with this study. Remote work is increasingly popular; our Dice survey shows most tech pros want it in their benefits package as much as they want health benefits. Companies may still feel a need to have offices in major tech hubs such as Silicon Valley, but an appreciable quality of life in those areas is almost unattainable for most. This push-pull dynamic will continue to play out, but companies should expect more of their staffers to ask for the ability to work from home… and then move to a place where home prices aren’t through the proverbial roof.