It’s estimated that by 2025, roughly 22% of the American workforce will be living the digital nomad life, whether from their homes, coffee shops, or just somewhere with a stable Wi-Fi connection. Here’s where digital nomads are most likely to end up in the US.
A 2023 report released by Innerbody.com analyzed every city in the US on key factors most likely to entice a digital nomad to live there: the number of large coffee shops, remote working locations, Internet coverage, and the average cost of rent. Based on the results, they ranked the 10 best US metro areas for digital nomads.
1: Orlando, Florida
Orlando tops the list of best US cities for digital nomads thanks to an abundance of chain coffee shops supported by a fair number of broadband options for remote workers. However, the city has experienced a rent spike of 35% in the last year, a trend hopeful digital nomads may want to keep an eye on.
2. Miami, Florida
With more than 20 Starbucks locations per 100,000 residents, Miami is a hot spot for digital nomads. Nearly 50% of residents enjoy access to more than one broadband provider, though a prevalence of public libraries means you may not have to pay for Wi-Fi at all.
3: Las Vegas, Nevada
Starbucks is a huge hit in Las Vegas, with nearly 26 locations per 100,000 residents. The nearly endless stream of caffeine and reliable Wi-Fi seems to be enough to bring digital nomads to the Strip, especially with a median rent of $1,021 for a one-bedroom apartment.
4: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
While chain coffee shops aren’t quite as prevalent in Pittsburgh, Steel City offers plenty of free Wi-Fi from its abundance of public libraries, 11.98 per 100,000 residents to be exact.
5: Cincinnati, Ohio
Low rent is a highlight of digital nomad life in Cincinnati, especially when paired with an abundance of broadband providers. More than 70% of residents enjoy access to more than one provider in their neighborhood, which means they can afford to shop around.
6: Atlanta, Georgia
Remote workers in Atlanta are spoiled for choice, with a fair number of chain coffee shops and public libraries serving up free Wi-Fi, while 63.51% of residents enjoy access to more than one broadband provider. All these cost-saving factors help balance out the city’s rising average rent of $1,427 for a one-bedroom apartment.
7: Knoxville, Tennessee
Digital nomads who like to spend their time split between the city and the mountains should head for Knoxville, where lower rent prices and plenty of public libraries offering free Wi-Fi help remote workers save.
8: Rochester, New York
Digital nomads who can brave a Rochester winter will be rewarded with plenty of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, with more than 13 locations per 100,000 residents. A low average rent of $756 and plenty of public libraries help make up for the money spent on all those caffeine runs.
9: St. Louis, Missouri
There’s no shortage of Starbucks locations for St. Louis-based digital nomads to frequent, with more than 17 shops per 100,000 residents. The low average rent of $744 and plenty of public libraries offering free Wi-Fi help to sweeten the deal.
10: Tampa, Florida
The third Florida city to grace this list, Tampa spoils its digital nomads with plenty of broadband options; over 70% of residents have access to more than one provider. There are plenty of chain coffee shops in which to work, though you may want to skip the latte to afford that $1,175 per month apartment.
Amenities Aren’t Created Equal
All the factors Innerbody analyzed are important for digital nomads, but they weren’t given equal weight in the ranking process. The prevalence of chain coffee shops and WeWork locations was deemed most important (60% of the total score), followed by median rental rates and at-home broadband availability (30%) and the prevalence of public libraries (10%).
While there are hundreds of small, local coffee shops for creatives to frequent, this study focused on Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts both for their nationwide prevalence and due to the fact that digital nomads tend to hover around these hot spots for their familiar ambiance and reliable Wi-Fi connection.
Coffee shops not only provide digital nomads with a never-ending stream of caffeine, but they also provide soft background noise in the form of chatter and music, and regularly changing visuals. It’s been scientifically proven that these effects can increase focus and stimulate creativity: a phenomenon called “stochastic resonance.”
Least Friendly Cities for Digital Nomads
Interestingly, New York and Los Angeles scored very low for digital nomad compatibility. It turns out that some of the highest rent prices in the country, coupled with fewer chain coffee shops per 100,000 residents, make for a poor place to accomplish remote work.
The Florida Problem
Florida continues to draw digital nomads, causing rent prices to rise in recent years. A growing population has caused Orlando’s average rent price to skyrocket nearly 35% annually, while Tampa’s prices have increased 31% and metro Miami rent spiked to $2,988 per month in February 2022.
Perhaps a combination of generally good weather (except for hurricane season, of course) and plenty of leisure opportunities attract remote workers looking to mix work and play in their day-to-day lives. Not to mention…
The Common Denominator
It turns out that cities better equipped to handle transient populations of tourists, like Orlando, Miami, and Las Vegas, are also best suited to digital nomads thanks to an abundance of coffee shops and public Wi-Fi access.
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