Working remotely

Even working remotely, you have to be somewhere

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

Location, location, location

In terms of work or where we live, location is, in many ways, the only thing that matters.

The work from home (WFH) movement has only added a new dimension, or a new set of possibilities, to a pre-existing home/work/life precarious balance.

As with every other aspect of life, there are some places more suitable than others for any particular use.

Wherever I hang my hat is home – or my office

Nobody that I know hangs a hat anywhere anymore, and fewer and fewer seem to have any sense of what “home” might be.

But even those who work remotely have to work somewhere.

And some places, in a multitude of ways, are more agreeable and amenable to working remotely than others.

Big cities, like New York and San Francisco used to be centers of creativity and commerce – and in many ways they still are.

But many WFH aficionados find themselves looking at their career and everyday life options through a different lens.

The seemingly irresistible lure of the big city tends to pale in the light of the cost of actually being there.

The small town, in a distant state, with a larger and more affordable home suddenly has become a player in the stakes for drawing remote workers.

Some towns even offer potential WFH emigres with a move-to-town bonus.

Rochester, New York, takes the lead in this category by offering a $19,000 bonus.

Savannah, Georgia, offers potential newcomers a $2,000 bribe.

If you are willing to live in North Platte, Nebraska for three years, you could get a bonus of $10,000. You’ll have to show proof of earning at least $20 an hour.

If Topeka, Kansas is more your style, you can get $15,000 if you buy a home or $10,000 if you rent. You have to live there for a least a year before you get your money.

Who needs a city these days?

With wi-fi and remote work, who needs a city anyway? Islands, national parks or even semi-permanently at sea or on the road have become possibilities.

Who needs a city when you could roam the world or set up your own family compound way, way, off the grid and far from traffic and urban crime?

Oddly enough, the most welcoming place, in many ways, for the WFH life is Plano, Texas.

Why Plano?

Spacious and affordable homes, high broadband coverage, and low crime all add to the city’s appeal.

Plano has the 10th most affordable rent, no state income tax (as in all Texas cities), and the 19th highest average household income.

I love California, but…

I love California, but the cost of everything, from gas to rents is, to put it mildly, not for everyone.

In fact, among 200 cities across the USA, the top ten worst cities for remote workers are all in California.

In order, from worst to almost tolerable, they are:

  • 1 Santa Ana, CA
  • 2 Salinas, CA
  • 3 Glendale, CA
  • 4 Garden Grove, CA
  • 5 Escondido, CA
  • 6 Lancaster, CA
  • 7 Chula Vista, CA
  • 8 Palmdale, CA
  • 9 Oxnard, CA
  • 10 Oceanside, CA

In other words, to paraphrase a once-popular song about California; “California, here we don’t come”.

WFH stands for Work From Here

Across the USA the best cities for remote workers are these:

  • 1 Plano, TX
  • 2 Frisco, TX
  • 3 Tampa, FL
  • 4 Atlanta, GA
  • 5 Seattle, WA
  • 6 Durham, NC
  • 7 Austin, TX
  • 8 Kansas City, MO
  • 9 Jacksonville, FL
  • 10 Charlotte, NC

Like many from the Puget Sound region, I’m a bit surprised to see Seattle anywhere on this list.

Seattle gets a lot of bad press thanks to local media, but, amazingly enough, it still has its near-mythical appeal.

Yes, Seattle rent and home prices are high, but they have been moderating, even dropping, and the outlying areas offer housing and recreational opportunities few other regions could even begin to imagine.

The WFH movement is changing our economy and our culture in ways that few of us have fully comprehended yet.

Many young people are refusing (for now at least) to return to the office.

What work, and our cities, will look like in a few years is anyone’s guess.

One thing we know for certain though; the Dilbert style cubicle and standard office culture is a remnant of a dying age.