News & Opinion | February 11, 2021 6:30 am

This Is the Best Work-From-Home City of 2021

Credit the cheap, fast internet and affordable housing

Chattanooga, Tennessee wfh city
This Tennessee city won accolades for fast internet and affordable housing.
Joe Daniel Price / Getty

Turns out you don’t have to be in a big city when you’re stuck working at home.

For PC Magazine‘s roundup of the best work-from-home cities for 2021, the publication utilized “data from Ookla Speedtest, BestPlaces.net and BroadbandNow to find 50 U.S. and 10 Canadian towns and cities with affordable housing, fast gigabit, reasonably priced internet connections and remote-work-friendly lifestyles.”

And while remote work has been an ongoing trend for over a decade, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated both the desire and the need to stay away from the office. As reported by FlexJobs, a recent survey of company leaders found that 80% of them plan to allow employees to work remotely “at least part of the time” after the pandemic, while 47% will allow WFH full-time.

Obviously, PC Mag is going to look at “best places to live” differently. For the tech mag, it was important that areas offered high-speed internet, which meant at least 800Mbps tested downloads and 200Mbps tested uploads — the idea being that more people are at home and video conferencing apps like Zoom are making upload speeds more important.

Overall, 50% of the final scores were earmarked for affordability (median home value, minimum gigabit broadband price) and 50% toward livability (home-based workers, amenities, house size, attractiveness of location and even number of coffee shops and independent restaurants).

Some findings:

  • Hello, Chattanooga! The Tennessee city of 180,000 earned top marks due to a citywide fiber network, along with affordable real estate and business-friendly administrations.
  • If you’re looking for an “area,” southern Vermont did well, with the towns Pawlet and Springfield earning spots number three and nine, respectively (with another that would have placed if it hadn’t been so close to the other two cities).
  • Only two major cities, Phoenix (11) and Philadelphia (37), made the list.

You can click on each listed example to get a broader description. For instance, Shallotte, NC is 46 on the list, and while it has under 4,000 residents, the median home price is just a little over $200K and over 8% of residents work in arts and education. Plus, it’s near several beaches and under 45 minutes away from two airports. And gigabit broadband starts at $86.