Mar 22, 2021
For many Americans, Covid initiated a shift to remote work that had to be embraced overnight. Twelve months later, research has shown that working outside an office environment has been an overwhelming success for both employees and employers and is expected to remain the norm for 25 million professionals, including those at leading tech organizations like Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and Salesforce.
For the first time ever, a significant portion of the American workforce is able to evaluate and select their community without the consideration of a commute or the safety net of local job opportunities. These geographically “free agents” are now looking outside of the expensive and crowded cities on the coasts that have long held the monopoly on talent attraction. Now they just have to decide where to go.
So what are remote workers looking for in a new community? MakeMyMove has heard from thousands of workers considering a relocation and these are the common attributes they describe:
Affordability: Relocations are seen as an opportunity to save money, become first-time home owners or size up for less money.
A sense of belonging: Remote workers don’t expect to be working from home forever. As the pandemic subsides, they say they are looking for co-working space and opportunities to integrate into the business community and connect with their neighbors.
Support for entrepreneurs: Remote workers with a side hustle seek a business-friendly environment, local access to capital, and a connection to universities.
Family considerations: Remote workers with children are evaluating safety, quality of child care, schools and enrichment activities.
Outdoor activities: For some, remote work is an opportunity to move closer to the beach or other outdoor hobbies including climbing, biking, skiing and fishing.
Land: Plenty of remote workers have told us they plan to relocate for property with acreage.
With these features in mind, let’s check out MakeMyMove’s ten places we think remote workers will love, in no particular order.
Youngstown, Ohio skyline
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, PA and OH
Located halfway between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, with a history rooted in steel production, this area of the Midwest was once known as the “Steel Valley.” Today, the “Mahoning Valley” economy is much more diverse, with industries such as health care, distribution, logistics and energy development on the rise. The median home price for the area is just over $90,000, locking in their #15 spot on US News and World Report’s “Cheapest Places to Live” list. Entrepreneurs will want to explore The Youngstown Business Incubator, HQ to several local start-up tech companies. Families will note the high-performing schools while future farmers will love that the downtown area is surrounded by farmland. If it’s entertainment you’re interested in, Youngstown, in particular, boasts museums, art galleries, amusement parks, national and state parks, sporting events and festivals. Bonus: the local neighborhood development corporation is looking for people like you to shore up its urban neighborhoods.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania skyline
You may associate Pittsburgh with its converging rivers, its industrial history, maybe even the Pirates or Steelers. But we would bet that a museum dedicated to Andy Warhol – the largest museum in the country dedicated to a single artist, no less – wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when picturing this MakeMyMove hot spot. Pittsburgh has made its way onto many other lists recently, including US News & World Report’s Cheapest Places to Live, Brookings Institute's most digitally inclusive tech cities, Realtor’s top 10 best places for singles to live, WalletHub’s best cities for STEM professionals and MoveHub’s most hipster-friendly cities in the world. Despite all the accolades, Pittsburgh is smaller than you might think, coming in at a population of about 300,000. Once known for its steel-related businesses, today it’s a hub for the health care, education, and technology industries, the latter bolstered by AlphaLab, a nationally-recognized software accelerator. Remote workers will want to check out options for co-working space like Alloy26 if you’re looking for an office outside of your home or one of the area’s 60+ colleges and universities are located in the city and nearby for continued learning opportunities. The median home price in the “City of Bridges'' is $143,000, lower than the national median, and the overall cost-of-living is lower, as well. The Andy Warhol Museum is just the tip of the iceberg for things to do – theaters, galleries, museums, and public art installations abound in the community.
Rochester, New York
If you’re looking to check as many boxes as possible on your “why I should move” list, consider these highlights for Rochester: over 12,000 acres of parkland; over 100 family-friendly attractions; 60 public golf courses; and, over 100 wineries, breweries and distilleries. Throw in the fact that Rochester sits on Lake Ontario AND is part of the famous Finger Lakes region (checking all the hiking, boating and fishing boxes for outdoor enthusiasts), and you have a lot of reasons to look at the third largest city in New York. In and around Rochester, there’s a growing number of high-end co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and individuals working independently or collaboratively. The Rochester Institute of Technology (a top-tier technical university) supports young tech companies through their business incubator. Bring your talents here and you won’t look back.
Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT
From your house in the Hartford area that costs less than what houses cost elsewhere in the country, you’ll enjoy visiting both the shoreline and quaint rural communities. Hartford, specifically, has a vibrant urban core with distinct neighborhoods, and it’s been named one of “The 10 Best-Paying Large Metros for Young People,” not to mention one of “America's 10 Best Places to Raise a Family – Without Going Broke.” Families will want to consider the neighborhood of West Hartford for their top school system and especially affordable home prices. If it’s property you’re after, you’ll find acreage within 15 minutes of downtown. Key industries in the area include industry and defense, healthcare, logistics and distribution, and insurance. The city is home base for Upward, which has created a downtown co-working community featuring a residential option, 196 Trumbull. Outside of the city, outdoor enthusiasts will have plenty of options for skiing and hiking. Savor New England’s best seafood at a real roadside clam shack, while Facetiming with your boss. Sounds inspiring to us.
Springfield is the hometown of Dr. Seuss.
Next on the list is Springfield, MA. The state of Massachusetts is ranked #9 on US News and World Report’s Best States list. Thirty minutes north of Hartford, CT, the two cities bookend The Knowledge Corridor, home to over 160,000 university students and 32+ universities and liberal arts colleges. Hartford–Springfield is also home to several biotech firms and high-speed computing centers. Entrepreneurs and appreciators of originality, take note: Springfield is known as the “City of Firsts,” due to its long history of innovation. Don’t miss the Springfield Innovation Center on Bridge Street, a business accelerator and commercial office space that are designed to support new business start-ups. This Old House, USA Today and Forbes have all highlighted the city’s neighborhoods and housing stock as being both impressive and affordable – part of why Springfield also goes by the “City of Houses.” Museums, a symphony orchestra, and a national park are just a few of Springfield’s attractions. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – shaped like a ball! – is located here (one of the many “firsts” we referenced earlier, as basketball was invented in Springfield).
Egret overlooking Lake Martin, a wildlife preserve just outside Lafayette.
At different times named “Happiest City in America” and “Best Food City in the USA,” why wouldn’t you take a look at working remotely from Lafayette, Louisiana? On top of the smiling faces and outstanding cuisine, Lafayette offers housing, utilities and median home prices below national benchmarks. Unique to this mid-size community is Lafayette’s Center for Entrepreneurs, which provides business education, guidance and risk reduction to startup founders and small business owners through training, mentorship, networking, and affordable workspace. Lafayette is also known for its many outdoor amenities, such as its swampland dotted with moss-draped cypress trees that are teeming with wildlife. Jump on an airboat and talk with your crocodile co-workers in the heart of Creole & Cajun Country.
The resurgence of Detroit has been an incredible story, and the Motor City and nearby Warren and Dearborn certainly offer incredible reasons to work from there. To start, the Detroit region is home to robust technology infrastructure and a “Top 15” national business climate. Detroit also offers something called “The Detroit Promise,” where qualified high school students can get on a tuition-free path to post-secondary education. On average, three-bedroom homes in the Detroit metro area cost $207,000, which is 7% lower than the national average. If you’re looking for professional sports, head downtown to Comerica Park, which has played a big role in the city’s rebound. Interesting note – you can get to the Tigers’ MLB stadium via monorail, if you’d like, as a number of downtown locations comprise the route. Detroit is of course home to NBA, NFL, and NHL teams, too.
On the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin is home to a young, diverse and hard working community. The region is recognized as a center of innovation in precision manufacturing, water technologies, food and beverage manufacturing, and energy. While home prices have increased in the last few years, average prices are below the national average. Remote workers moving with families may want to consider the Whitefish Bay neighborhood for its A+ schools. Homes with acreage are a short 20 minute commute from downtown. Opportunities for continued learning are available at the University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin, Marquette and 20 more universities in the greater Milwaukee area. For co-working space, check out Ward4 which is home to the gener8tor Accelerator Studio, a 16-week program to to co-found and launch startups from scratch. As for dining, Milwaukee was doing farm to table before it was cool. Outdoor activities range from lake, beach and kayaking fun in the summer time to snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sledding and ice skating in the winter. The beer drinking is good year round.
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA and NC
I can work all day, and then go to the beach? I can work from the beach, you say? There are a number of reasons to move to the Virginia Beach area, but being seaside is definitely among the best. Named the best place to live in America by USA Today Weekend, the cost of living here is below the national average and students attend one of the nation's best public-school systems. Nearby you’ll find 11 institutions of higher learning. The parks and recreation system in Virginia Beach is made up of over 7,000 acres of fields, forests, wetlands, lakes and river and beach shoreline. The community also has a system of parks, open spaces, and recreational facilities that’s very diverse, serving residents right in their own neighborhoods.
Twice awarded Outdoor Magazine’s “Best Town Ever,” Chattanooga is known for having some of the best rock climbing spots in the country. Surrounding mountains, rivers, lakes and a more temperate climate make it a great choice for remote workers who enjoy any number of outdoor activities. The fastest internet service in the western hemisphere also makes Chattanooga a draw for remote workers who enjoy indoor, screen-based activities, and anyone looking to get in on a booming startup scene. Home prices come in under the national average. The suburbs of Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain are popular with families in part because they have some of the best schools in the county. Check out Society of Work and WorkHorse for co-working space options. After work, a re-invented downtown along the Tennessee River is great for shopping and dining.
MakeMyMove is the nation's first and only marketplace that matches remote workers and their families to communities across the country offering relocation incentives. MakeMyMove is the brainchild of Bill Oesterle, co-founder of Angie’s List.
With workers demonstrating that they are capable of tackling their responsibilities from anywhere, companies have handed them the power to select their own geography. With the power to choose and a quantifiable boatload of economic impact, remote workers are a valuable get for communities that can move fast to compete for their relocations. Cities accustomed to “paying” companies to relocate via tax breaks and other financial incentives (you’ll recall Amazon’s HQ2 site selection), are beginning to redirect their incentive programs to the workers individually. And, small towns that couldn’t compete with the big cities on job opportunity are back in play. All the relocation incentives for remote workers are at MakeMyMove.com.