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The Best Metro Areas for Remote Working in 2024

  • Boulder, Colorado, is the best metro area in America to work remotely.

  • The Raleigh-Cary metro area, North Carolina, is the second best suited for remote working in America, while the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metro area, Texas, is third.


Figure 1: Map Showing the 10 Best Metro Areas for Remote Working in 2024


The map also shows the borders for all metro areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau in the contiguous United States.


A new study has revealed that Boulder, Colorado, is the best metro area in America for remote working.


Agency directory DesignRush analyzed housing costs, percentages of remote workers, broadband connections, and commute times using U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Communications Commission data to find which metro areas are best for remote working.


Metros were ranked by remote working suitability index, with a maximum score of 100 and a minimum score of 0. It combines data on the percentage of people who work from home, the monthly expenditures on phone services, the percentage of people with a broadband internet subscription, the average monthly housing cost, the average travel time to work, and the average monthly fiber connection cost.


Gianluca Ferruggia, General Manager at DesignRush, said:


“Remote working has become increasingly viable in recent years due to a combination of faster and more reliable internet connections, changing societal priorities, the changing nature of work, and in some cases necessity, such as during the pandemic.


“Many workers now prefer to work from home due to the better work-life balance it can provide, plus it can allow workers to take advantage of higher average salaries that might be paid in other areas than the areas in which they live.


“Businesses also benefit from the increased desirability of remote working, as it allows them the widest talent pool to choose the best candidates for a job. This could be done by hiring workers for remote roles or by outsourcing projects to digital contractors when a full hire might not make financial sense.


“This increased importance for remote working options prompted this study to find the best metro areas for remote working, with Boulder, Colorado, coming out on top.”


1. Boulder – Colorado


Boulder, Colorado, is the metro area best suited for remote working in America, with a remote working suitability index of 77.5 out of 100.


Boulder’s high suitability comes from a high percentage of workers working from home at 20.8%, 114% above the national average of 9.7%, high percentage of households with a broadband subscription at 93.3%, 6.3 percentage points above the national average of 87%, and cheap access to fiber internet with greater than 300 megabits per second download speed at a statewide average of $71.88 per month for urban internet connections, 22% below the national average.


Boulder loses marks for remote working suitability for its high monthly cost of housing, at an average monthly cost of $1709.50, 42% above the national average of $1203.50 per month.


Despite this, Boulder still comes out on top because of its strong broadband infrastructure, allowing it to have the nation's highest percentage of remote workers.

 

2. Raleigh-Cary – North Carolina


The Raleigh-Cary metro area in North Carolina is the second best suited for remote working, with a remote working suitability index of 73.4.


The Raleigh-Cary metro area scores highly due to a high percentage of people working from home at 16.8%, 73% above the national average. It also has a higher-than-average percentage of households with broadband connections at 91.6%, although the average cost for high-speed fiber is 2% above the national average at $94.99 monthly.


Relatively high housing costs at an average of $1304 per month see the Raleigh-Cary metro area lose the most from its score.

 

3. Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown – Texas


The Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metro area is the third best suited for remote working in America, with a remote working suitability index of 71.2.


A high percentage of remote workers, at 16.8%, and a high percentage of households with a broadband subscription, at 91.8%, add the most to the suitability.


High housing costs, at an average of $1503 per month, 25% above the national average of $1203.50 per month, reduce the Austin metro area’s remote working suitability.

 

4. Bend – Oregon


With a remote working suitability index of 70.9, Bend, Oregon, is the fourth most suitable metro area for remote working in America. High numbers of people working remotely at 15%, and there is cheap fiber internet at an average monthly cost of $64.99, with Oregon being the state found to have the second cheapest 300mbps download speed fiber plan on average at $64.99 per month, 30% cheaper than the national average of $92.73 per month.


Bend loses most points for its relatively high housing costs, with the average housing costs at $1419.50 per month, 18% above the national average.

 

5. Punta Gorda – Florida


Punta Gorda, Florida, is the fifth best-suited metro in America for remote working, with a remote working suitability index of 70.5. Punta Gorda scores well for the percentage of people working from home, at 12%, and average housing cost, at an average monthly cost of $908.50, 25% below the national average of $1203.50 per month. Florida also has relatively cheap fiber internet, at an average of $76.89 per month for fiber plans with at least 300mbps download speeds.

 

6. Corvallis – Oregon


Corvallis, Oregon, is sixth, with a remote working suitability index of 70.5. A high percentage of people working from home, at 13.3% and 24% above the national average of 9.7%, and a cheap average monthly cost for a 300mbps download speed fiber plan at $64.99 per month, 30% below the national average monthly cost of $92.73, see Corvallis score well. Housing costs are nearly the same as the national average of $1203.50 per month, too, at an average of $1206.50 per month in Corvallis.

 

7. Fort Collins – Colorado


Fort Collins, Colorado, is seventh, with a remote working suitability index of 70.4. Cheap fiber internet in Colorado, at an average of $71.88 per month for 300mbps download speed fiber plans, and a high percentage of remote workers, at 15.4%, see Fort Collins score well.


Average housing costs are 19% above the national average at $1434 per month, which lower Fort Collins’s score.

 

8. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro – Oregon-Washington


In eighth is the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro metro area, which covers areas in Oregon and Washington, with a remote working suitability index of 69.9.


A high percentage of remote workers at 14.4% significantly raises the metro area’s score, further aided by the cheap average cost of 300mbps download speed fiber internet plans in Oregon of $64.99 per month.


The metro area’s score is significantly decreased by the relatively expensive cost of housing there, at an average monthly cost of $1513.50, 26% above the national average.

 

9. Durham-Chapel Hill – North Carolina-South Carolina


With a remote working suitability index of 69.7, the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area, covering North Carolina and South Carolina, comes ninth for the best metro areas in America to work remotely. A high percentage of remote workers, at 14.5%, scores the metro area high, and average housing costs are 2% below the national average of $1203.50 per month at $1174.50.

 

10. Ithaca – New York


Ithaca rounds out the top 10 with a remote working suitability index of 69.2. Ithaca scores well for the percentage of remote workers at 14.5%, 74% above the national average of 9.7%, and has relatively cheap average costs for a fiber connection with 300mbps download speed at $79.99 per month, 14% below the national average monthly cost of $92.73.


Ithaca’s average commute time is relatively low at 20 minutes six seconds, five minutes 42 seconds, or 25% below the national average of 26 minutes 48 seconds. This reduces how relatively advantageous remote working is compared to commuting in this metro area.

 

Sources:


United States Census Bureau:

2021 American Community Survey 5-year Data Profile, 2016 American Community Survey 5-year Data Profile, 2021 Esri Consumer Spending data

(Via Census Business Builder)

 

Federal Communications Commission:

Urban Rate Survey, Broadband Survey 2024

FCC National Broadband Map

 

Methodology:


The remote working suitability index is calculated by comparing each metro area's remote working suitability factor against the adjusted theoretical maximum score for the remote working suitability factor to get a score out of 100.


The remote working suitability factor compares each metro area’s data with the national average to determine relative suitability for remote working. This is calculated by multiplying each variable's weight by each variable's difference to the US average for all listed variables for each metro area, then summing all these calculated values. Variables that were considered to be more important were given higher weightings.

This calculation can be written as:


Remote Working Suitability Factor = 1.5*Percent who work from home – 0.5*Monthly consumer expenditures per household on phone services + 1.5*Percent with a broadband internet subscription – 1.2*Housing Costs Combination + 0.4*Average travel time to work – 1*Weighted Broadband Cost


The maximum possible value for this equation using data from the United States is 3.32, and the minimum is -5.04. 5.04 is added to all values so that all values are not negative, making the maximum adjusted value 8.36 and the minimum adjusted value 0. These values correspond to 100 and 0 on the Remote Working Suitability Index.


Percent who work from home is 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau that reports the percentage of all workers over 16 that work from home in a metro area. Higher percentages are considered better in this model, so values above the average add to remote working suitability and vice versa.


Monthly consumer expenditures per household on phone services uses 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data and is the ratio of total households in a state and the total consumer expenditures on phone services in dollars. Lower costs are considered better in this model, so values below the average add to remote working suitability and vice versa.


Percent with a broadband internet subscription is 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and is the percentage of households in a metro area with a broadband internet subscription. Higher percentages are considered better in this model, so values above the average add to remote working suitability and vice versa.


Housing Costs Combination is the average of Median rent (housing) and Average monthly owner cost (with a mortgage) from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2021. Median rent is the median of the contract rent plus the estimated average monthly cost of utilities and fuels of occupied housing units in a metro area. Average monthly owner cost (with a mortgage) is the median of the sum of owner payments for mortgages, real estate taxes, various insurances, utilities, fuels, mobile home costs, and condominium fees. Lower costs are considered better in this model, so values below the average add to remote working suitability and vice versa.


Average travel time to work is 2021 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and is the aggregate of travel time (in minutes) to the total number of trips to work in a metro area. Higher travel times are considered better in this model, so values above the average add to remote working suitability and vice versa.


Weighted Broadband Cost combines broadband plan costs from the FCC Urban Rate Survey, 2024 Broadband Survey, and 2023 data on fiber availability in metro areas from the FCC National Broadband Map. It is calculated by taking the plans with at least 300mbps download speed and with above-average numbers of connections in each state, finding their costs, and then comparing these to the national average. If a metro area has a fiber connection, the average fiber plan cost in that state was compared against the national average. If there were no fiber connections in a metro area, a weighted cost for cable, at 50% higher than base cost, or fixed wireless, at 100% higher than base cost, was used for comparison to the national average. This is to account for fiber being the preferred connection type for high speeds, low latency, and the best scope for upgrades. For metro areas covering multiple states, the value for the state listed first by the U.S. Census Bureau for a metro area was used. Lower costs are considered better in this model, so values below the average add to remote working suitability and vice versa.

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