The 7 Best Cities For Remote Workers In 2021

Considering a move? Here are 7 of the best destinations for remote workers.

It’s hard to believe that we have been living with Covid-19 for over a year now.

One thing that keeps coming up in conversations with my friends is how much it has impacted our perception of time over the last year. There have been times when a single week brought so much change that it felt like a month, and other times when months passed that felt like one neverending week!

Until we have some more perspective, it will be difficult to pinpoint exactly what the long-term effects of the pandemic will be on our lives and our careers. There is one major trend, however, that I feel pretty certain will remain among the major impacts of Covid-19 on our professional lives: the continued rise of remote work.

As technology has brought instantaneous connectivity and created incredible leaps in communication opportunities, remote work has been steadily growing. Since 2010, there has been an astonishing 400% increase in employees who work from home at least once a week. Of course this was all greatly accelerated one year ago when lockdowns sent many workers out of the office.

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This is likely to continue well after we can safely say that the worst of Covid-19 is behind us. We can expect the continuation of remote work and the rise of hybrid models to be two of the major effects of Covid-19 on our work lives. Among business leaders, 80% expect that staff will continue to work remotely or be partially remote into 2021 and beyond.

Besides saving many workers a grueling commute, and boosting the sales of athleisure as “sweatpants chic” becomes the norm in our virtual office, the rise of remote work has created many new opportunities for workers who are no longer bound by the limitations of geographic locations. While many remote roles will still be geographically specific, the opportunity to work a new job from home will certainly open many possibilities for workers.

Ready for a change of pace? Eager to find new stomping grounds, a little more space or the perfect balance of cost of living and quality of life?

Here are 7 of the best cities for remote workers to explore.

1) Portland, Maine

Nothing against Portland, Oregon, and we all loved Portlandia. But, I’m talking about the other Portland.

Portland, Maine, consistently ranks high on lists of the best places to live in the United States. In fact, a 2020 list on livability ranked Portland the number four best place to live in the country, and it also made the U.S. News top 10.

Portland is a beautiful coastal city that offers charming architecture and proximity to spectacular nature, including Maine’s rocky beaches, marshes and forests. Portland, Maine, is home to a thriving restaurant scene, which earned it Bon Appétit’s 2018 Best Restaurant City title. Are you a fan of craft beer? Because Portland has the highest count of craft breweries per capita in the country.

With Portland’s population of less than 70,000, you could be forgiven for thinking that it has the economy of a sleepy vacation town. But in fact, in the last few years, Portland has emerged as something of a startup and tech mecca. It ranks as the fifth best city to start a business. It’s a particularly good climate for women in the startup space, as the ninth best city for female entrepreneurs in the country.

In addition to the many selling points of Portland, the state of Maine also provides some very enticing opportunities for recent graduates living in or looking to relocate to the state. You may be able to access the Opportunity Maine Tax Credit, which offers student loan reimbursement for anyone who lives and works in Maine and graduated with a bachelor’s or associate’s degree from any school in the United States after 2015.

With a quality of life that is 53% higher than the national average, Portland is simply a great place to live.

2) Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado, tops the U.S. News list as the number one Best Place to Live in America for 2020–2021. What’s more, it was also ranked No. 1 for quality of life and the seventh safest city in the country.

And it’s no wonder Boulder ranks high above the competition—it sits at over 5,000 feet of elevation! I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist a little joke.

Boulder is located in the foothills of the majestic Rocky Mountains. Imagine strolling out for your morning cup of coffee through Boulder’s beautiful plazas with the incredible mountains off in the distance. I might just move there myself!

If you’re hoping to move to Boulder as a remote worker, you’ll be in good company. Even before the pandemic, Colorado has been a great place for remote workers. In 2018 Colorado even boasted the highest concentration of remote workers in the U.S., with 7.9% of the population working from home. A recent FlexJobs report found that since 2019, Boulder has boasted 14.9% of its job listings as remote positions.

FlexJobs, a leader in career search tools for remote jobs, itself is also based in Boulder. While the pandemic has had dire implications for jobs across many industries, many other tech companies in Colorado are weathering the storm well.

Zoom, which saw 367% year-over-year growth in 2020, has an office in neighboring Denver. In 2020, Zoom also increased its workforce around the globe by 42%. Boulder-based tech company Tectonic, which creates software based tech apprenticeships, also saw growth of 30% from 2019 to 2020.

A 2020 report by SmallBusinessPrices even ranked Boulder as the number one rising tech hub in the world.

With a population of roughly 100,000, Boulder is small enough to feel like a cozy town, but big enough to have plenty to do. Boulder is located just 25 miles from Denver which only adds to the “best of both worlds” appeal.

Boulder has an amazing food scene, with Bon Appétit once referring to it as “America’s Foodiest City,” and ranking Boulder’s Pearl Street as one of the “Top 10 best foodie streets in America.” Many chefs in Boulder take inspiration from the richness of local produce grown in the lush valley that surrounds the city.

For those who love the snow, Boulder is of course a mecca for skiing and winter hikes. You can even escape the cold in one of Colorado’s hot springs.

3) Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa provides one of the best incentive programs for remote workers, and this is just one of the many reasons why Tulsa is a fabulous place to consider as your next hometown.

Tulsa Remote is a program created to entice young professionals and remote workers to put down roots in Tulsa. The program offers incentives including a grant of up to $10,000! This is inclusive of relocation expenses and monthly stipends to help cover housing and living expenses.

Additionally, the program offers exclusively curated housing options, free desk space at 36 Degrees North, a co-working space in downtown Tulsa, for when we have the option of returning to the office, as well as events and programming aimed to foster a sense of community for young professionals relocating to Tulsa.

Tulsa is a city of about 400,000 residents, offering a relatively temperate climate. There are 134 parks within the Tulsa city limits. Tulsa has a thriving arts scene and rich musical history. Food fans rejoice, Tulsa is an amazing city for food with a history of legendary BBQ, Lebanese food, a strong microbrewery scene and traditional native American food traditions including the wild onion dinner.

4) Burlington, Vermont

Speaking of beautiful cities that are perfect for the avid skier, Burlington, Vermont, has a ton to offer to remote workers and is an all-around fantastic city.

Vermont is another state that has offered incentives for workers who are hoping to relocate. In 2020, the state legislature offered two types of grants for both remote workers and workers who relocated to the state to work in-state, the New Work Relocation Grant and the Remote Worker Grant. The incentive involved reimbursement funds to cover expenses from relocating to the state or for expenses associated with working remotely from Vermont.

As of January 2020, the program had disbursed all of its allocated funds, but its leaders are in talks with the state legislature to continue the funding for the program. The success of this program bodes well for anyone interested in exploring relocating to Vermont.

Home of University of Vermont, Burlington is an eclectic and vibrant city. It is located on the beautiful Lake Champlain, which borders Vermont, New York and Canada, and is the mythical home to Champ, North America’s very own Loch Ness monster-like creature.

Take a stroll down beautiful Church Street, a brick-paved pedestrian’s paradise, or stop into one of the many breweries and amazing restaurants in Burlington. Vermont is legendary for, you guessed it, craft beer.

Just outside of Burlington you’ll find the incredible, sprawling Shelburne Museum, where you’ll find everything from classics of Impressionist painting to an entire, intact stemship moored in the middle of a Vermont field.

Vermont also boasts some of the best skiing in the country, with many ski mountains easily accessible from Burlington.

5) Tucson, Arizona

If the snowy peaks of Vermont’s Green Mountains are a little cold for you, you might want to consider a place on the total opposite end of the climate spectrum, like Tuscon, Arizona.

Tucson is a fantastic place to live, and a great place for remote workers. Livability ranked it among the Top 10 Remote-Ready Cities in the U.S.

Tucson has a very reasonable cost of living, 8% below the national average, with the average cost of a home at under $200,000. The economy of Tucson is also on the rise.

In 2018, reports found that the economy in Tuscon was stronger than it had been in a decade. While Covid-19 had negative impacts across the entire U.S. economy, a October 2020 study predicted that Arizona’s economy would make a full recovery by mid-2021, faster than the greater U.S. economy.

For freelancers and remote workers, Tucson is a great place to consider. Tuscon boasts a number of co-working spaces for those who are working solo but looking for a place to network and connect with other freelancers when it is safer to return to in-person work.

Tucson is an especially great place for creatives, with a thriving arts scene that is centered around the Tuscon Warehouse Arts District. And who wouldn’t be inspired by the majestic natural beauty of desert, surrounded by magisterial mountains?

Looking to live somewhere where you don’t have to hop in your car to go anywhere? Tucson is a great place to commute by bike, as it ranks among the most bikeable cities in America. Combine this with its beautiful climate where the temperature rarely drops below 40 degrees, and you may be ready to trade in your car for a brand new road bike!

Residents love “The Loop,” a series of hiking, walking and horseback riding trails with separated bike lanes that run for 130 miles throughout Tucson and surrounding areas.

There is so much to love about beautiful Tucson, you may have to see for yourself!

6) Topeka, Kansas

People who haven’t visited the Great Plains have no idea what they are missing. I drove through the prairie and grasslands of Kansas and Colorado this summer, and let me tell you, it is truly spectacular.

A lot has been written lately about how the pandemic has people leaving major cities in search of more space. Well, if you’re looking for a place where you can have a sense of wide open space, all while living in a bustling city, Topeka might be the place for you.

If the beauty of the wide open sky doesn’t draw you, then maybe Topeka’s amazing incentives for workers relocating to the city will.

Topeka offers grants of up to $15,000 for workers who relocate there. Yes, you read that right, $15,000. The grant includes up to $15,000 for workers who will be on-site working in Topeka and purchase a home, and $10,000 to those who are renting. Grants of $10,000 or $5,000 are available to home-buyers or renters who are living in Topeka but working remotely. For more information on eligibility, check out the details of the Choose Topeka program.

Topeka offers a fantastic cost of living. The overall cost of living in Topeka is 21% less than the national average, and the median price of a home is $111,500.

Topeka has a growing tech and startup scene for entrepreneurs, with the newest Midwest location of the Silicon Valley-based startup incubator Plug and Play. With a ton of creatives making waves in Topeka, the city also ranks in the Top 25 Best Cities for the Next Decade by Percentage of Workers in the Creative Class.

All in all, Topeka is a city on the rise, and a great place to become part of the community.

7) Columbus, Ohio

While many people are more familiar with Cleveland and Cincinnati, Columbus is actually the largest city in the state, and Ohio’s capital. Columbus is a vibrant city and a great place for remote workers.

There are so many reasons Columbus is a good fit for freelancers and remote workers that Livability ranked it the number one “Remote-Ready” city in the country.

I’m frankly surprised that Columbus doesn’t get its due. After all, last year it was ranked the number five best city to live in the world by Numbeo, a site that aggregates and ranks cities by quality of life! And this year, it remains in the top ten.

So what makes Columbus so great? Well, a lot of things. To start with, it has a great cost of living, which is 14.5% below the national average. Housing is affordable, with the median home price roughly $73,000 less than the average in the U.S.

There are many unique and walkable neighborhoods in Columbus, including the historic and quaint German Village. If post-industrial chic is more your speed, check out the Short North Arts District, a vibrant and bustling neighborhood known for its eclectic murals.

Columbus has created forward-thinking policies to continue the growth and development of the city in many ways that benefit remote workers and commuters alike. In 2016, Columbus was awarded the $50 million Smart City Grant, which it has used to modernize its public transit through many initiatives.

Columbus offers a huge amount of public park space, including 370 parks and a ton of public art. Check out the amazing Scioto Mile, a sprawling public space created as part of an environmental reclamation project, which includes a 15,000 square foot interactive fountain, concert venue, free public climbing wall and nature areas.

Visitors and residents alike are enthralled by Columbus’ many museums, from the majestic Columbus Art Museum, to the Center of Science and Industry to the totally out-there Otherworld, an immersive museum inside a warehouse that showcases light and scenic installations straight out of Alice in Wonderland.

Sports fans will be right at home in Ohio, especially at Ohio Stadium, one of the great cathedrals of college football with a staggering capacity of over 100,000. If a more laid-back game with a slightly smaller crowd appeals, head down to Huntington Park to catch the Columbus Clippers, a minor league baseball team. Come on, who doesn’t love a hot dog and some minor league ball on a summer night?

If you decide to head for Columbus, you are sure to find so many things to love in the beautiful and welcoming city!

If 2021 is the year for you to make a big change, and try out a new place to call home, I wish you all the best in your search for the city or town or village or farm or cabin or tiny house that best suits you!

I’m a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you’re excited about and aligned with. This may look

 

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