How to rethink ‘home’ and ‘travel’ if your job is now remote
Pristine beaches along the Pacific Ocean, a stellar school system, outdoor ice rinks galore, safe neighborhoods, or ample golf courses—depending on priorities, any of these might be deciding factors in choosing the best place to live in America.
To help make a choice, Stacker compiled a list of the best places to live in every state using Niche’s 2020 rankings. Niche ranks places to live based on an array of factors, including the cost of living, educational level of residents, housing, and public schools. Each slide includes the total population, median home value, median rent, and median household income. Check out the details of Niche’s methodology.
The list features college towns, suburbs, and cities. Many are appealing for their safe and quiet streets, their commitment to education, or their proximity to the cultural attractions of an urban area, or a nearby wilderness for hiking and skiing. Some grew popular when a major company moved in, boosting local job opportunities. Some are especially quaint and historical, while others are enjoying tech booms.
Maybe you are looking to relocate, or maybe you’re just daydreaming about a move. Maybe you’d just like to see if your hometown is mentioned. Take a look at the towns and cities that have earned their spot—and read why—on our list of the top 50 places to live in the United States.
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Chris Pruitt // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 49,327
- Median home value: $253,000 (71% own)
- Median rent: $946 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $99,188
With several dog parks and playgrounds, Madison, Alabama, offers recreational options for kids or canines. In 2020, a new minor league baseball team moved into town. The city is home to growing corporations, offers numerous civic organizations, and volunteer opportunities.
- Population: 1,869
- Median home value: $657,700 (92% own)
- Median rent: $2,177 (8% rent)
- Median household income: $193,015
Leafy Devon, Pennsylvania, is a suburb about 15 miles from Philadelphia, with Tudor mansions, historic carriage houses, and colonial homes. It hosts the Devon Horse Show, an annual event that started in 1896, and its Jenkins Arboretum is home to nearly 100 species of songbirds.
Famartin // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 11,389
- Median home value: $486,000 (77% own)
- Median rent: $1,944 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $151,111
Suburban Cascades, Virginia, is home to many families and young professionals, and it’s an easy commute to Washington D.C. The public schools are highly rated, and nearly 1 in 3 residents has a master’s degree or higher.
Thomson200 // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 83,999
- Median home value: $400,100 (76% own)
- Median rent: $1,677 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $122,514
Johns Creek, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, has a variety of top-flight golf courses. The Johns Creek International Festival draws almost 20,000 visitors each year, and the city has recently gained recognition from Amazon for its innovation in local business.
- Population: 42,054
- Median home value: $427,700 (90% own)
- Median rent: $1,388 (10% rent)
- Median household income: $132,929
Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield hosts some of the biggest golf tournaments in the world, but the local skating club may be even more prestigious, having groomed several Olympians. Currently, the town has a AAA bond rating, showing a healthy tax base. Singer Aretha Franklin and actor-comedian Robin Williams fondly recalled living in Bloomfield.
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Mark Ravenscraft // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 47,605
- Median home value: $379,800 (78% own)
- Median rent: $1,200 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $113,315
While there are many nearby wonders in St. Louis, few of the big city’s attractions are as specific as the Butterfly House in Chesterfield, Missouri, a butterfly zoo that opened in 1998. One of Chesterfield’s most famous former residents is pitcher Max Scherzer, who won a World Series title with the Washington Nationals in 2019.
Doug Kerr // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 4,642
- Median home value: $324,900 (82% own)
- Median rent: $1,170 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $105,891
Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, situated near Penn State University, is a picturesque small town filled with Victorian-style homes and quaint shops. It is considered the birthplace of the Memorial Day holiday, and each year the town hosts a celebration that attracts thousands of visitors.
Cadiomals // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 83,989
- Median home value: $301,500 (74% own)
- Median rent: $1,215 (26% rent)
- Median household income: $101,882
Numerous Troy Recreation Department events, like a Halloween 5K run and Winter Wonderland, provide a communal feel to this growing suburb of Detroit. Oakland/Troy Airport serves business travelers, while Interstate 75 leads directly into Detroit. The Stage Nature Center is a hub for all things outdoors in Troy, Michigan.
Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 90,332
- Median home value: $264,200 (78% own)
- Median rent: $1,250 (22% rent)
- Median household income: $109,454
As this Indianapolis suburb experiences rapid growth, the Fishers, Indiana, schools are seeing heavy investment. Geist Reservoir is a popular recreation spot, and there is an annual renaissance fair. Several members of the NBA’s Indiana Pacers have resided in Fishers.
Goff Designs // Shutterstock
- Population: 4,450
- Median home value: $319,100 (86% own)
- Median rent: $1,338 (14% rent)
- Median household income: $155,893
Ottawa Hills, Ohio, located near the University of Toledo in northwestern Ohio, gets high ratings for being family friendly, safe, and quiet. But its cost of living and its home and rental prices are much higher than elsewhere in the state.
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bogdanstepniak // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 7,963
- Median home value: $648,700 (98% own)
- Median rent: $3,250 (2% rent)
- Median household income: $214,073
Long Grove, the first historic district designated in the state of Illinois, has cobblestone walks and charming architecture that dates to the 1800s. Northwest of Chicago, the village recently renovated its one-lane, covered bridge.
ChristOnABike // WIkimedia Commons
- Population: 6,153
- Median home value: $370,500 (93% own)
- Median rent: $950 (7% rent)
- Median household income: $106,058
Elm Grove, Wisconsin, has a small-town feel, yet it’s just 20 minutes from downtown Milwaukee. It is one of Wisconsin’s official Bird Cities that takes special care so that its public spaces and private yards provide habitat, feeding areas, nesting areas, and open water for local and migratory birds.
James Kirkikis // Shutterstock
- Population: 36,272
- Median home value: $184,600 (55% own)
- Median rent: $1,049 (45% rent)
- Median household income: $75,807
A suburb of Rochester, New York, Brighton is family friendly, and more than half of its families have children under 18. It gets top reviews for its amenities, schools, job opportunities, and low crime. As to affordability, its median real estate prices are lower than the rest of the state. Average test scores at public schools are 22% higher than the national average, and two-thirds of residents have a bachelor’s degree.
- Population: 22,170
- Median home value: $290,600 (77% own)
- Median rent: $1,337 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $91,136
A small shopping center built in 1947 started the ascent of Pairie Village, Kansas, as one of America’s best places to live. Today, a Village Vision Strategic Investment Plan is ensuring safe and steady growth for this Kansas City suburb. In a citizen survey in 2018, 99% of residents rated Prairie Village as an excellent or good place to live.
Chanilim714 // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 65,590
- Median home value: $422,800 (66% own)
- Median rent: $1,451 (34% rent)
- Median household income: $113,802
Near Atlanta, Alpharetta, Georgia, is home to the park-like Ameris Bank Amphitheatre for concerts; a 50-acre Equestrian Center; and the Big Creek Greenway, a wildlife-filled conservation park for jogging, biking, and inline skating. Its City Center is a 26-acre locale that includes the downtown historic district, shops and restaurants, office space, luxury apartments, and green space.
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Lincolnh // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 24,002
- Median home value: $521,900 (66% own)
- Median rent: $1,015 (34% rent)
- Median household income: $106,088
European settlers originally moved onto farmland in Decatur, Georgia, in the 19th century, but today the town is known for its commuters into Atlanta. Decatur’s schools are some of the best in the state, and Emory University is nearby.
Paul Sableman // Flickr
- Population: 18,538
- Median home value: $402,300 (69% own)
- Median rent: $1,244 (31% rent)
- Median household income: $96,319
Creve Coeur, Missouri, used to be synonymous with Monsanto, but a 2018 acquisition by Bayer put the future of the agricultural company town in doubt. However, Bayer is now filling the job gap in Creve Coeur, keeping this St. Louis suburb, which is near Chesterfield, on the upswing. Among those who have called Creve Coeur home is actor Jon Hamm, who grew up in the small town.
Paulo O // Flickr
- Population: 8,888
- Median home value: $363,600 (57% own)
- Median rent: $1,185 (43% rent)
- Median household income: $91,457
Innsbrook, Virginia, is a mixed-use community with residences, office space, recreation, lakes, and trails. It was founded in 1979 on 850 acres of undeveloped rural land not far from Richmond, Virginia.
Trey Perry // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 113,819
- Median home value: $374,200 (71% own)
- Median rent: $1,566 (29% rent)
- Median household income: $122,634
A short drive from Sugar Land, Texas, The Woodlands beats out its neighbor with a community of villages developed specifically around good schools, nature, and prime housing. Halliburton and Chevron are among the companies with large campuses in The Woodlands. Recreationally, a koi garden and boathouse are just two of the highlights in the city.
Chris Yunker // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 8,005
- Median home value: $228,800 (64% own)
- Median rent: $1,239 (36% rent)
- Median household income: $81,069
Brentwood, Missouri, residents tend to be white-collar professionals, many in computer and math fields. The Brentwood Ice Rink hosts the St. Louis Rockets, a youth hockey organization, and the St. Louis Skating Club, a figure skating club founded in 1932. It ranks among the top 10 school districts in the state. Real estate prices are high compared with the rest of Missouri.
Alexander Migl // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 91,577
- Median home value: $1,382,700 (29% own)
- Median rent: $1,802 (71% rent)
- Median household income: $96,570
The Santa Monica Pier is this coastal city’s iconic landmark, providing entertainment and scenic views for more than a century. A film festival and outdoor shopping attractions draw visitors and locals, who can arrive via Santa Monica Airport. In seven years, residents will watch beach volleyball and surfing competitions from the area during the 2028 Summer Olympics.
rcmori81 // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 32,303
- Median home value: $268,500 (72% own)
- Median rent: $928 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $100,011
Mt. Lebanon Township, Pennsylvania, takes pride in its tree-lined sidewalks, nature trails, outdoor swim center, tennis courts, and ice rink. The Pittsburgh suburb’s name is derived from two cedar trees brought back by a local preacher who visited Lebanon and planted them in front of his home in the mid-1800s.
DanTD // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 13,889
- Median home value: $797,400 (87% own)
- Median rent: $2,008 (13% rent)
- Median household income: $173,709
Jericho is a New York City suburb with highly ranked schools. Its median income is nearly three times the national average. But its median home value also is nearly three times higher than the rest of the country, and its median rent is twice as high as the rest of the country. Less than 30 miles from midtown Manhattan, it’s a quick commute by train or bus.
terren in Virginia // Flickr
- Population: 28,328
- Median home value: $413,900 (57% own)
- Median rent: $1,434 (43% rent)
- Median household income: $107,321
Short Pump, Virginia, is less than 10 miles from Richmond, Virginia, and slightly more than 100 miles from Washington D.C. It has an open-air mall for shopping, parkland with picnic facilities, spray fountains, athletic fields, and a restored 1902 two-room schoolhouse. Its name is traced back to a short-handled water pump at a local tavern where stagecoach drivers would stop in the early 1800s.
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Alizada Studios // Shutterstock
- Population: 118,709
- Median home value: $323,300 (81% own)
- Median rent: $1,775 (19% rent)
- Median household income: $121,274
For two centuries, Imperial Sugar played a key role in the evolution of Sugar Land, Texas. No longer dependent on just sugar, this Houston suburb welcomed major companies like Minute Maid and Glazer Properties. For entertainment, the Sugar Land Skeeters minor league baseball team hosts thousands of fans each summer.
- Population: 233,464
- Median home value: $705,400 (43% own)
- Median rent: $1,970 (57% rent)
- Median household income: $120,071
The Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery are two of the most-visited spots in Arlington, Virginia, but this city has much more to offer. George Mason University law school and satellite campuses for the University of Virginia are located in Arlington. Soon, Amazon will have a giant facility in Arlington, as well.
Matthew Straubmuller // Flickr
- Population: 49,872
- Median home value: $567,500 (52% own)
- Median rent: $1,910 (48% rent)
- Median household income: $107,220
Several nonprofits are headquartered in North Bethesda, Maryland, including the Society of American Foresters. North Bethesda’s high schools post high rankings in state surveys, while Georgetown Preparatory School is one of the oldest boarding schools in the United States. Workers in the Washington D.C. area have a short commute into the nation’s capital.
Ed! // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 9,147
- Median home value: $294,400 (88% own)
- Median rent: $1,336 (12% rent)
- Median household income: $117,944
Madeira, Ohio, is a suburb of Cincinnati, where Procter & Gamble is the area’s largest industry and employer. Madeira’s cost of living is slightly higher than the national average, and its population has grown nearly 4% since 2010. Its spending on schools is slightly higher than the national average, and its student-to-teacher ratio is lower than that of the rest of the country.
Tim Kiser // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 23,914
- Median home value: $672,900 (84% own)
- Median rent: $2,129 (16% rent)
- Median household income: $171,066
About 20 miles from Washington D.C., North Potomac, Maryland, has a low unemployment rate and a good housing market. Its elementary schools are among the best in Maryland. During the spring and fall, trails throughout North Potomac become full of fitness enthusiasts.
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- Population: 41,645
- Median home value: $388,800 (72% own)
- Median rent: $1,450 (28% rent)
- Median household income: $122,340
Amazon and Samsung are two major corporations with facilities in Coppell, Texas. Combined with an easy commute to Dallas and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Coppell became a hopping business hub. Coppell also won numerous awards for promoting healthy living, schools, and recreational opportunities for kids.
Deel2 // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 16,437
- Median home value: $373,600 (83% own)
- Median rent: $1,375 (17% rent)
- Median household income: $141,752
There are pools for everyone in the family to enjoy inside the planned community of Cinco Ranch in Katy, Texas. Residents also take advantage of a golf club and several trails and parks. Home-price values in Katy, which include part of Cinco Ranch, have skyrocketed in the Houston suburb that has been one of the best places to live.
AlexLinck // Shutterstock
- Population: 166,268
- Median home value: $356,400 (68% own)
- Median rent: $1,246 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $104,669
Cary, located near North Carolina’s Research Triangle, has been called one of the safest cities in America by some outlets. The town hosts the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League, and USA Baseball’s national training complex. Cary has its own public transportation system.
- Population: 8,763
- Median home value: $754,200 (89% own)
- Median rent: $2,180 (11% rent)
- Median household income: $180,000
South Kensington, Maryland, sits on the Potomac River between southern Maryland and northern Virginia, with easy access to Washington D.C. Homes are expensive, and the prices have appreciated nearly four times the national average in the past decade. Two-thirds of residents commute to work by car, and their average commute one-way is just over 30 minutes.
Lucius Kwok // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 3,531
- Median home value: $475,200 (68% own)
- Median rent: $1,351 (32% rent)
- Median household income: $102,147
Berwyn, Pennsylvania, schools are ranked among the top 10 in the state, and it is praised as a good place to live both for families and for retirees. A third of the small town’s residents have bachelor’s degrees, and a third have master’s degrees or higher. Housing is costly, however, and Berwyn’s median home value is more than twice the national average.
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Millbrooky // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 16,588
- Median home value: $633,400 (59% own)
- Median rent: $1,249 (41% rent)
- Median household income: $107,596
Clayton, Missouri’s restaurants specialize in pastries, with doughnuts a favorite among locals. Various dog parks, camps, and the Historic Hanley House museum are notable points of interest in town. Washington University, one of the Midwest’s most prestigious higher education institutions, has a property in Clayton.
Ugen64 // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 6,318
- Median home value: $415,200 (77% own)
- Median rent: $1,021 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $107,778
In Swarthmore, a suburb of Philadelphia, crime rates are low, and schools are highly ranked. Public school test scores are 67% above the national average. But Swarthmore’s cost of living, driven by high housing prices, is 29% higher than the national average. It is home to prestigious Swarthmore College, founded in 1864 by Quakers.
- Population: 14,220
- Median home value: $473,800 (87% own)
- Median rent: $2,592 (13% rent)
- Median household income: $153,628
Stone Ridge, Virginia, is less than 40 miles from Washington D.C., and close to Dulles International Airport. Its housing stock features single-family homes, condominiums, and townhomes, and nearly nine out of 10 families own their homes. The town has a clubhouse with a fitness center, an amphitheater, three swimming pools, miles of walking trails, and the Loudoun County Gum Spring Library.
Anora McGaha // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 26,280
- Median home value: $331,800 (48% own)
- Median rent: $1,398 (52% rent)
- Median household income: $101,738
Technology company Lenovo has a giant headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina, which makes sense given the town’s location within the state’s Research Triangle. Good public schools, the housing market, and jobs have put Morrisville on the top of best places to live lists.
- Population: 1,972
- Median home value: $1,972 (82% own)
- Median rent: $1,257 (18% rent)
- Median household income: $90,750
The tiny town of Houserville, Pennsylvania, is close to Penn State University. It has a rural feel, and its housing prices are not much higher than the national average. Students attend State College Area High School, rated the best high school in the county. State test scores show 83% of students are proficient or higher in math and 82% are proficient or higher in reading, and the high school graduation rate is 95%.
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Paul Sableman // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 8,500
- Median home value: $253,700 (56% own)
- Median rent: $1,035 (44% rent)
- Median household income: $82,261
Located near St. Louis, Richmond Heights, Missouri, is filled with stately older homes, mostly built before World War II. Most working residents are white-collar professionals, although it also has a remarkably high number of resident artists, designers, and members of the media. More than 70% of adults have a four-year college degree, master’s degree, doctorate, or degrees in medicine or law, compared with a national average of less than 22%.
- Population: 8,716
- Median home value: $506,400 (84% own)
- Median rent: $978 (16% rent)
- Median household income: $111,958
Suburban Clarendon Hills, Illinois, draws families and young professionals with its quality schools, low crime rates, and proximity to Chicago. At more than 32 minutes, the typical commute is longer than the national average. Most people use public transit to get to work.
Montgomery County Planning Commission // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 12,808
- Median home value: $355,400 (59% own)
- Median rent: $1,415 (41% rent)
- Median household income: $96,780
Ardmore, Pennsylvania, is an affluent, historic suburb of Philadelphia. One of the first shopping centers in the country, its Suburban Square, opened in 1928. There’s also shopping at Lancaster Avenue and nearby streets, and a farmers’ market. Five weekends each year, Ardmore traditionally hosts the Clover Market of vintage and artisanal goods, and each year it hosts a Restaurant Week and an Oktoberfest.
Los Alamos National Laboratory // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 12,666
- Median home value: $308,100 (67% own)
- Median rent: $1,042 (33% rent)
- Median household income: $116,116
Known as the birthplace of the atom bomb developed by Manhattan Project scientists at Los Alamos, the New Mexico locale is a great place to live. It has more than 300 days of sunshine each year, easy access to wilderness mesas, mountains, and canyons, and a thriving arts scene. Its schools have been named the best in the state, and jobs at the Los Alamos National Laboratory draw highly educated and innovative people to the area.
kennethaw88 // Wikimedia Commons
Pesotsky // Wikimedia Commons
- Population: 59,180
- Median home value: $933,200 (49% own)
- Median rent: $2,268 (51% rent)
- Median household income: $117,326
Brookline, outside of Boston, has its own puppet theater—the Puppet Showplace Theater. Visitors can also step inside John F. Kennedy’s childhood home. Comedian Conan O’Brien is among the noted graduates of Brookline High School.
Lindasj22 // Shutterstock
- Population: 97,464
- Median home value: $333,200 (76% own)
- Median rent: $1,207 (24% rent)
- Median household income: $112,765
In recent years, Carmel, Indiana, has been recognized as the best place to raise a family in Indiana, one of America’s safest cities, and the best place to launch a career. Besides being Niche’s best place to live in America, Carmel, an Indianapolis suburb, has a serene Japanese garden.
- Population: 5,932
- Median home value: $366,000 (87% own)
- Median rent: $1,416 (13% rent)
- Median household income: $123,854
In the leafy Philadelphia suburb of Penn Wynne, public school test scores are 70% higher than the national average, and all but 2% of its students graduate high school. Crime rates are extremely low. But the cost of living is high, pushed up in particular by home values that are 95% higher than the U.S. average.
- Population: 2,835
- Median home value: $460,100 (97% own)
- Median rent: $2,634 (3% rent)
- Median household income: $132,955
Holly Hills, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, gets top reviews as a place to raise a family and a place to retire. It’s walkable and diverse, with good public schools. Nearly all its homes are older, built between 1940 and 1969, and many have four, five, or more bedrooms. Downtown Denver is easily accessible by light rail.
- Population: 4,800
- Median home value: $323,000 (77% own)
- Median rent: $1,832 (23% rent)
- Median household income: $130,000
Residents enjoy top-quality schools, parklands, quiet streets and safety in Chesterbrook, Pennsylvania, a suburb that’s about a 30-minute drive from Philadelphia. It’s adjacent to the Valley Forge National Historical Park, the site of the 1777-1778 winter encampment of Gen. George Washington and the Continental Army. During that time, the ragtag soldiers trained to become a disciplined and unified force.
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As some workers begin returning to the office this year, others have been offered the opportunity to work from home indefinitely. Twitter, Dropbox, NerdWallet and many other tech companies will let employees go fully or nearly fully remote, freeing them from commutes and packed elevators.
Yet what are the travel options and realities if you’re now working remotely? Should you become a digital nomad? Move to a new city or stay put? Is it really feasible to work in a hammock on the beach, or does that get uncomfortable?
Many new remote workers are excited and overwhelmed by the options. Here we lay out five important considerations to keep in mind as you take the next step toward working remotely while traveling (or not).
1. Should you stay or should you go?
If your job is remote, are you automatically a digital nomad? Not necessarily. In general, digital nomads have no specific home and bounce from one location to the next in search of cheap lodging and fast Wi-Fi. As a digital nomad myself, I can tell you most of us spend an un-Instagrammable amount of time in our parents’ house.
One of the first things you should consider after your job becomes remote is where you want to live, and how often you want to travel. On one end of the spectrum is full digital nomadism. On the other is staying exactly where you are. And in between lie myriad hybrid options, including:
- Slow-madism: Rather than moving constantly, some remote workers take it slower, spending long periods of time in each location. This can be a great way to start, as it lets you explore and get to know the pace of life in each destination.
- Home base: Even those remote workers who style themselves “digital nomads” often have a home base to return to between trips. This affords some comfort, but also plenty of potential expense.
- Snowbirding: Although usually attributed to well-tanned retirees, the term “snowbird” refers to anyone who migrates to warmer climates for the winter. Whether driving down in an RV or hopping on a flight to Mexico, this is an attractive option for vitamin-D-seeking remote workers.
The big challenge with each option is balancing quality of life with costs. For example, keeping a home base means you can keep your stuff, but it can also carry a big price tag. And renting furnished accommodations as a nomad can be pricier than you might expect.
Each situation is unique. If you already own your home, maybe you can use it as a home base and rent it out while traveling. If you’re renting, you might need to stay put or move out entirely. Break out the spreadsheets, get creative and make a budget that works for you.
2. What about taxes?
They’re not the most exciting aspect of remote work, but taxes are an important and often overlooked consideration when deciding where and how to live. Local and state taxes differ so significantly that they can affect the cost of living in a particular area just as much as transportation or housing costs.
For example, the cost of living in Minneapolis and Austin, Texas, are roughly equal, according to NerdWallet’s calculator. Yet this does not factor in state income tax, which runs 6.8% in Minnesota for an individual making $100,000 per year and 0% in Texas. That’s a difference of $6,800 per year, or $566 per month — enough to meaningfully impact your budget.
What’s more, the tax rules for nomads who bounce between locales are extremely complex, varying from state to state. Make sure to consult a tax professional if you plan to work from many states within a single year.
3. Can you live overseas?
Living on the beach in Thailand has been the digital nomad dream for decades, but can you swing it? And do you want to?
The biggest advantage to living in another country is the reduced cost of living. After you’ve enjoyed a banh mi in Saigon for $1, it’s hard to go back to U.S. prices. And for those who can earn a U.S. salary, living elsewhere can be a financial dream come true.
Yet working remotely while traveling abroad comes with plenty of complexities and important considerations. From tax rules (which vary by country) to visa considerations, it’s not as simple as packing a bag and moving out of the country.
Plus, your job might not allow it. Make sure to check with your HR team before expatriating, as many companies require their employees to remain in certain countries for administrative reasons. Plus, it can be hard to work collaboratively when you’re 12 hours ahead of your coworkers.
4. Should you move somewhere cheaper?
Zillow surfing is the time waster du jour. For workers who have been stuck in expensive cities because of their job, it can be tantalizing to see how much you could afford in other cities.
“If we move to Akron, we can buy a mansion!”
But don’t let housing cost drive your entire decision. Generally, cheaper locales are that way for a reason, and buying a dream home in a random city isn’t necessarily a recipe for happiness. Consider spending time as a “slo-mad” in a cheap city before moving there.
5. What do you value?
This is the final consideration on our list, but really it’s the most important. Remote work affords options, and which option you choose will depend on what you value. Do you want to be close to family? Or to friends? Do you want to live cheaply and retire early? Or do you want to make the most of the money you’re earning now and live in a vibrant, dynamic city?
Many people never have to confront these questions. They simply live near their work and make the best of it. Switching to a remote mindset can — and should — prompt some difficult questions about what you care about and how you will build your life in order to maximize these values.
Remember: Very few decisions are permanent, and you can always test out something new and reverse course. Try experimenting with one variable at a time (e.g., whether to keep a permanent home) and see what works and what doesn’t.
The bottom line
The pandemic has changed many aspects of everyday life, ranging from the banal to the monumental. And if your job has offered you the chance to work from home permanently, you have an opportunity to change the very structure of your life — or not.
Romantic notions of working remotely while traveling aside, there are several important financial considerations to keep in mind when planning the next step. If you want to travel more, make sure you’re not double-paying on rent or a mortgage back home. Make sure you understand the tax implications, whether you stay in the U.S. or move abroad. Don’t let the cost of living dictate your entire decision, and make sure you maximize for your personal values.