The world opens up for you when you become a remote worker. Commuting distances and local housing markets no longer constrain your choices. How remote work affects the question where should I live has the potential to reshape settlement patterns. The process has already started.
People whose work can be completed largely on computers and/or through teleconferences will no longer be tied to the large urban centers where knowledge workers have traditionally clustered.
These circumstances give remote workers the freedom to fully consider where they want to live in terms of affordability, lifestyle, climate, and cultural experience.
Difference Between a Remote Worker and Digital Nomad
Digital nomads are remote workers, but not all remote workers are digital nomads. A remote worker can accomplish paid tasks outside of an employer’s facility or office. This can mean working from home or while traveling.
A digital nomad, as the term implies, changes locations frequently. The person moves on to new destinations every few weeks or months. A digital nomad may travel the world.
A remote worker, on the other hand, is likely to have a full-time home or perhaps two seasonal homes. In fact, a remote worker could be the quintessential homebody who rarely travels.
As a result, moving as a remote worker is directed by the desire to choose a somewhat permanent place to live.
How Remote Workers Choose Where to Live
In general, remote workers decide where to live through consideration of:
- Access to outdoor recreation
- Internet connectivity
The first three factors are mostly satisfied by leaving an urban area for a less populated area. Urban areas have the highest rents and home prices and often lack outdoor recreational activities compared to towns in rural areas. Large population centers also tend to have areas of high crime, so leaving a city is often seen as a way to improve the safety of your environment. However, you should not assume that smaller cities and rural areas don’t have crime.
Related: Buying a House in the Country: 8 Big Issues to Think About
Except in rural areas, you can expect to get reliable internet in most small cities, towns, and suburbs.
Migration patterns reflect the preference of remote workers to leave pricey metropolitan areas.
Research published by the Economic Innovation Group concluded that large metropolitan areas with high costs of living and concentrations of workers whose jobs can be performed remotely experienced the largest population declines. The trend started before the pandemic and certainly strengthened when millions of people got the opportunity to work remotely. The flight of remote workers from expensive cities is expected to continue.
Popular vacation areas and places adjacent to travel destinations also attract remote workers. There is a certain appeal to living where you like to go on vacation. Affordability varies around areas of natural beauty or popular tourist destinations. Remote but beautiful places will tend to be affordable compared to big cities due to low population and modest economic activity.
On the other side of the coin, places with high densities of vacation homes can be expensive places to live. Even so, the money you spend in such a place might land you in a lovely home in a place that inspires you for the same money that you spend on an apartment in the big city with a view of a homeless camp or brick wall.
I’m a Remote Worker. Where Should I live?
The decision of where to live as a remote worker is more complicated when your decision impacts other people. You may have family considerations, such as a partner whose career is tied to a specific place. That situation would limit your options.
As with most big decisions, you can analyze where to live as a remote worker by creating two lists.
The first list describes places where you would want to live. Call it the Desirable Characteristics list.
The second list will detail factors that limit your choices. Call it the Constraining Factors list.
Examples for the Desirable Characteristics list:
- Mild climate
- Outdoor recreational amenities
- Housing in your price range
Examples for the Constraining Factors list:
- Need to stay in the same country
- Need to stay near family members
Different people will put different issues on their lists, but what matters is organizing all of your specifications.
Once you get the pertinent issues listed, you can contemplate them as a whole. You can look for locations that meet all or most of your criteria.
Resources for Remote Workers Looking for a New Place to Live
Remote is a service that rates countries and cities according to their suitability for remote workers. Use the tool to input your priorities in terms of safety, cost of living, quality of life, etc., and Remote generates a custom report based on its data and your priorities.
Bankrate’s List of Best Remote Worker Cities in the U.S.
Thrillist Ranking of Best Remote Worker Cities 2023
Home Buying Strategies When You Move for a New Job
5 Reasons Why More People Are Moving to Canada