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By Prachi Bhardwaj
Updated: January 20, 2021 11:03 AM ET | Originally published: January 18, 2021
Best Cities to WFH
VisitGreenvilleSC / Greenville County Parks

Last year, Americans seriously stepped up our WFH game. We turned kitchen tables and living rooms into home offices, leaned into the art of video conferencing, and navigated a more complicated work-life balance.

It was a necessary transition, with offices across the country shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19. Americans fortunate enough to keep their jobs, now had to learn to do those jobs remotely. Thirty-eight percent of adults have either switched to telework or live with someone who has, according to a December survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Even as vaccines start to make the rounds in the U.S., the new year promises more of the same. Major corporations like Target, Google, and Ford have extended at-home measures to July 2021. Still others, like Dropbox and Twitter, have adopted policies that allow employees to work from home permanently if they choose, opening the possibility of moving to a more affordable location and getting some much-needed elbow room.

Seventy-two percent of homebuyers surveyed by real estate brokerage Redfin said they expect to continue working remotely after the pandemic subsides. A third of respondents said they would relocate if their remote work became permanent — and a third said they already have.

To help this group decide where to consider, Money analyzed 157,000 data points across nearly 2,000 cities and towns in the U.S. to find the best places to live if you work from home.

As with our flagship Best Places to Live list, we considered the cost of living, safety, and the quality of education in each location. For this list, we also considered the share of residents that worked from home pre-pandemic and prioritized a good at-home setup: enough space to give everyone a room to themselves, access to necessities like daycare facilities and pharmacies, and, of course, sufficient internet connection.

According to service provider comparison site BroadbandNow, an internet connection that offers 100 Mbps (million bits per second) for downloading and 25 Mbps for uploading is the minimum needed for multiple people to effectively work from home. Downloading is used for things like streaming or scrolling through social media, while uploading speed is important for video conferencing and putting files on cloud storage.

In all 10 places on our list, at least 98% of residents have adequate internet access at home to support multiple people working and video conferencing simultaneously.

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Here are the 10 best places to live in the U.S. if you work from home:

1. Reston, Virginia

Don Sweeney/Fairfax County Park Authority

Median home price: $434,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 88.0%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 6.3%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 5

Reston, VA was practically designed with the remote employee in mind.

Built from the ground up in the 1960s, Reston is a planned residential community created to be a green suburb where families could live, play and work without having to rely on a car.

The census-designated place has 55 miles of paved pedestrian pathways and trails that connect the various neighborhoods and a majority of residents live within a 10 minute-walk of one of Reston’s 73 parks. It’s home to two golf courses and four man-made lakes perfect for fishing, boating, or lakeside picnics.

The city has one main town center and five village centers — one for each neighborhood. Residents boast about the endless food options they offer. Like Cafesano in South Reston, where you can enjoy a $14 steak kabob seated on a deck that overlook Lake Thoreau.

The city is no stranger to work-from-home families so it’s well-equipped to take care of your remote needs. Pre-pandemic, about 6.3% of Reston residents worked from home, compared to the national rate of 4.5%.

Nearly all households have an adequate internet connection by the BroadbandNow definition. But if you need access to an office, Washington D.C. is only a 33-minute drive away (or 45 minutes and $8 via public transportation). In the opposite direction, Washington-Dulles International Airport is only 15 minutes by car (or 20 minutes and $2 on the Fairfax Connector).

2. Lower Merion, Pennsylvania

Lower Merion Township

Median home price: $500,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 59.1%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 9.6%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 5

Pre-pandemic, Lower Merion had the highest rate of people working from home of any place on this list.

In this Philadelphia suburb, you’ll find a family-friendly community with great public schools and charming local establishments, like Hymie’s — a beloved deli that’s been around since 1955. The well-rounded township also came in at No. 3 on Money’s Best Place to Retire list this year, thanks to its access to the arts, the outdoors, and healthcare options.

That has a lot to do with convenience. Its proximity to colleges, like St. Joseph’s University and Bryn Mawr College, gives Lower Merion the ease and walkability of a college town, without the overwhelming presence of a college campus or students. Only 10% of the population was between the ages of 18 to 24 as of 2010, according to a community profile using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and 79% of the homes were family households.

In addition to access to day care facilities and convenience stores, residents enjoy over 200 museums and 350 theaters, concert venues and dance studios within a 15-mile radius. That’s more than any other city on our list. Plus, Montgomery County, where the township is located, has 140 primary care providers per 100,000 residents, compared to a median of 93 among all the cities Money analyzed.

Housing is expensive compared to our other winners, but incomes are high enough to make up for it. In an index measuring resident income against the cost of living, Lower Merion scored better than the other cities on this list.

3. Naperville, Illinois

Courtesy of DuPage Convention & Visitors Bureau

Median home price: $363,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 89.8%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 7.4%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 5

It’s Wednesday afternoon and you haven’t left the house for three days. Fortunately, you live in Naperville: A safe and quickly growing suburb of Chicago with enough outdoor space and rainy day activities to get you and you family out of your funk.

The city has nabbed a spot on Money’s Best Places to Live list three times, most recently in 2019, getting nods for its good schools, affordability, activities, and general family-friendliness.

On nicer days, enjoy activities on the banks of the Dupage River, which runs through the city. At the Playground Naperville, kids can swing, slide, and let loose. While Riverwalk Park features paddle boats, an amphitheater, and concerts at Rotary Hill. With 1,800-square-miles of green space and 26 state and national parks within a 15-mile radius, Naperville has more room to stretch your legs than any other city on this list and almost any city Money analyzed.

Downtown, a large walkable area has hundreds of shops, restaurants, entertainment, and fitness options. When the weather gets chilly (and COVID restrictions allow) there are a number of ways to spend the day. Like Funtopia, an indoor play center with climbing walls and obstacle courses made of ropes and tires.

4. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Jeeheon Cho

Median home price: $293,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 90.3%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 7.0%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 6

If “University of Michigan” is all that comes to mind when you think of Ann Arbor, you’re in for a treat. It’s a quirky, laid-back town that prides itself on being self-sufficient, safe, and small, but with a big-city personality.

About 90% of the population lives within a 10-minute walk of a park and a quick 10-minute drive puts you out in the country.

When public indoor spaces are safer to explore and you need a break from the house, there are plenty of local coffee shops and libraries to work from. At nights and on weekends, residents benefit from their proximity to U-M, with its top-ranked college basketball team and events put on by its renowned School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

To be sure the university does have a big influence on the city, 26% of the population lives in college housing and only 44% of residents own their homes. Those who do own here, benefit from some of the lowest home prices on our list.

5. Roseville, California

Visit Placer

Median home price: $461,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 81.2%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 6.8%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 6

Thirty minutes from Sacramento and two hours northeast of San Francisco, Roseville has Northern California’s famous temperate weather, outdoor access, and produce, without the density, buzz, and expense of the Bay Area.

The city’s charms earned it spots on both Money’s most recent Best Places to Live and Best Places to Retire lists. It’s only a two-hour drive to Tahoe — the lake and mountain destination that many San Franciscans regularly drive four hours to and from in the winter months for skiing and snowboarding. In the summer, it’s a weekend getaway for anyone who loves a good day at the lake.

However, since Roseville is a good drive to get anywhere else, the city is laid out so that everything you need is close by. You don’t have to go far from home for quality shopping, food, or public schools.

Run errands on your lunch break, go for a walk to clear your head, and be back home and at your desk in time for the afternoon rush. On weekends, take advantage of good weather and enjoy a day at one of Roseville’s 19 golf courses or a few of the 52 vineyards within a 25-mile radius.

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6. Parker, Colorado

John Ott

Median home price: $486,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 72.8%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 9.5%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 5

Parker earned the No. 3 spot on Money’s Best Place to Live list for 2020, given its particularly high scores for its economy and health and safety. And it’s also ideal for someone looking to work out of an at-home office — just ask the 9.5% of people already working remotely here.

Thirty-minutes south of downtown Denver, Parker sits on the very outskirts of the metropolitan area. It boasts a low crime rate and a strong community. Residents can stay physically and mentally fit, given ample options for enjoying the beautiful outdoors. The city sits 600 feet above the mile-high city, which makes for picturesque views.

Parker’s a relatively new city, home to only about 5,000 people as recently as the late 1980s. But today it’s home to more than 58,000 residents living in a 22 square mile area. Fewer than 1% of the households here have a person-to-room ratio higher than one, which means no more listening in on work calls that aren’t yours.

People are catching onto the hype. Home prices were up 7.2% from the first quarter of 2018 to the same time in 2020 (compared to 2.4% in Denver).

7. Cedar Park, Texas

Courtesy of Cedar Park Fun

Median home price: $342,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 80.5%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 7.4%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 5

Good schools, affordable homes, bike trails, and barbecue. That’s what you need to know about Cedar Park, TX.

Though just 25 minutes northwest of Austin, the city gets dinged by local commuters for being along the 183A — a cashless toll road that requires a tag. It’s only 58 cents to get to the city with the tag, or 88 cents to pay by mail plus a $1 processing fee, but other suburbs in the area require no toll at all. If you’re working remotely, there’s little reason to worry. Or to live anywhere else, really.

Homes are affordable, going for less than $400,000 in the first quarter of 2020, and they’re selling too: 5.6% of households sold here in 2019 compared to the 3.3% of households in the country’s most populous zip codes. And Cedar Park scored particularly well in our diversity category, indicating that the population is more racially and economically diverse than any other winner on our list.

The Cedar Park Recreation Center is your go-to spot for an indoor workout, with a full gym, track, and basketball and pickleball courts. Alternatively, head to Brushy Creek Lake Park where you can bike, walk, or run the paved trails. On a particularly nice day, take an extra long lunch break to enjoy the lake via kayak.

8. Portland, Oregon

Justin Katigbak

Median home price: $448,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 88.2%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 6.8%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 6

As the biggest city on our list by population (648,000), the advantages to working remotely in Portland is the sheer number of resources at your disposal.

Among our winners, Portland ties with Greenville (next up) for the most convenience stores and amenities per square mile, not to mention 22 farmers markets — more than almost any city Money analyzed. Plus, a whopping 92% of the city’s population lives in areas with above average walkability, so getting around won’t be a problem.

Internet access is easy to come by when you’re looking for a home: it’s the only city on this list where 100% of the households have access to an internet connection sufficient for video conferencing on multiple devices. And in terms of comfort, Portland required the least tinkering of the thermometer out of any city on this list, according to a heating and cooling index used in our analysis.

9. Greenville, South Carolina

VisitGreenvilleSC / Dread Xeppelin Aerial Photography

Median home price: $250,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 47.9%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 5.1%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 11

Whether you’re single and looking for inexpensive activities to fill after-work hours, or hoping to keep a family of four entertained during an eight-hour workday, Greenville meets your remote household’s needs.

With almost 750 restaurants serving its 70,000 residents, Greenville has the most restaurants per capita on our list. Downtown Greenville is the place to be at any time of day, with its store- and restaurant-lined streets, brightly lit sidewalks, and outdoor plazas. It also has the most hospitals per person at nine.

It’s also the most affordable city on our list, both in terms home prices and the overall cost of living. In Greenville County, monthly child care costs are just shy of $500 for one child, according to the Economic Policy Institute. And the annual average cost of infant care in South Carolina is about $7,000, which is one of the lowest rates in the U.S.

10. Tewksbury, Massachusetts

Shutterstock

Median home price: $435,000
Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park: 60.1%
Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic: 3.0%
No. of restaurants per 1,000 residents: 4

Tewksbury is a great choice for anyone who works from home and doesn’t mind a little cold. And why should you? While commuters here travel an average 34 minutes each way, you won’t need to trudge through the 43 inches of snow a year, much less leave the toasty comforts of your Massachusetts home.

In Tewksbury, 82% of homes are owner-occupied, which comes with its benefits. Homeowners are thought to be extra committed to keeping local streets clean, safe, and friendly. That’s especially valuable in these times: After Maryland, Massachusetts is home to more households with an employee working remotely as a result of the pandemic than any other state in the U.S.

Home prices here are reasonable for the area and homeowners are profiting from their purchases. An index measuring the interest in buying a house here, showed that Tewksbury was an outlier in terms of the number of views properties were getting on listing site Realtor.com, when compared to the rest of the country. And sales prices were up 16.6% from the first quarter of 2018 to the same time in 2020, which is more than any other city on our list or any other city Money analyzed in Massachusetts.

Methodology

To find Money’s Best Places to Work From Home, we looked at places with populations above 25,000, to ensure a mix of small, medium, and large cities. We eliminated any location that had more than double the national crime rate, less than 85% of its state’s median household income or a lack of racial diversity, as determined by Synergos Technologies Inc.’s statistical analysis of FBI and Census data. Using home prices from Attom Data, we then eliminated locations with a median sale price that exceeded $615,000, to avoid suggesting overly expensive places relative to the rest of the country.

That left 1,720 contenders. Next, to pick the winners, we crunched 157,000 data points, provided by our research partner Witlytic.

For each place we considered: cost of living, quality of life, mental and physical health factors, diversity, amenities, education, housing market, and economic health. For a more in-depth look at the data we used, check out our 2020 Best Places to Live methodology.

For this list, we put the greatest weight on at-home convenience, like access to high-speed internet, room-to-person ratios, and heating and cooling comfort. We also focused access to facilities like daycares, pharmacies, and parks. Among the statistics called out here:

Median home sale price reflects the first quarter of 2020 median using data from Attom Data.

Percent of households with adequate internet access reflects the percent of households with access to at least a 100MB down, 25 MB up wired home connection — the BroadbandNow definition for adequate work from home connectivity.

Percent of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park uses data collected by ParkServe.

Percent of employed working from home pre-pandemic uses the 2020 estimate of percent of employed residents working from home, per Synergos Technologies Inc.’s interpretation of Census data.

And the number of restaurants per 1,000 residents reflects the number of restaurants within the city’s boundaries, using data gathered from the Small Business Administration, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics, TomTom, Esri, and POI factory.

Witlytic aggregated all city-level data so that Money was able to use it in the analysis.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the average property tax in Ann Arbor.