The share of individuals who work from home has dramatically increased over the past several years. Census Bureau data shows that the estimated percentage of workers in the U.S. who work from home rose from 5.0% to 17.9% between 2016 and 2021. However, some cities are better for working from home than others.
In this study, SmartAsset identified the best cities to work from home, looking at factors such as work from home prevalence, housing costs and income taxes. We considered 100 of the largest cities and compared them across a total of eight metrics. For more information on our data and how we put it together, read our Data and Methodology section below.
This is SmartAsset’s fourth annual study on the best cities to work from home. Our 2021 edition can be found here.
- Six of the top 10 cities are in North Carolina and Arizona. In all six cities, workers have increasingly stopped commuting to an office or work site, with the largest changes occurring in Durham and Charlotte.
- In 13 cities, more than a third of the workforce works from home. Though nationally less than one in five workers works from home, the percentage is much higher in some cities. In Fremont, California, nearly half of individuals work from home (48.9%) and two DC area cities follow closely behind (Arlington, Virginia at 48.8% and Washington, D.C. at 48.3%).
- With high taxes and cost of living, California cities fall behind. Eight of the 10 worst cities to work from home are in the Golden State. In all eight cities, the income tax rate for an individual earning $75,000 is almost 25% and median monthly housing costs exceed $1,200.
1. Austin, TX
Austin, Texas takes the top spot in our study, with almost 39% of its workforce working from home. This figure marks a significant increase in the popularity of work from home since 2016, when only 8.2% of individuals worked from home. Beyond work from home popularity, Austin is home to high concentration of coffee shops (making up nearly one in 100 establishments) and Texas has no state income tax.
2. Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale, Arizona has the eighth-highest percentage of the workforce who works from home (34.9%) and 20th-largest five-year change in the percentage of workers reporting they work from home (24.2%). Additionally, workers there face relatively low state income taxes. A worker earning $75,000 will pay less than 23% of their income towards federal and state taxes.
3. Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the only city in our top 10 where median monthly housing costs fall below $1,000. With more affordable housing costs, workers may be able to buy or rent a larger home that can accommodate an office. Pittsburgh also allows remote workers the opportunity to work from coffee shops and bars. It is home to the 56th-highest and 10th-highest coffee shop and bar density, respectively.
4. Chandler, AZ
More than 29% of workers in Chandler, Arizona avoid commuting, the 23rd-highest rate in our study. Chandler also ranks in the top 25 cities for three other metrics: five-year change in percentage of workers reporting they work from home (23.3%), unemployment rate (3.3%) and percentage of homes and apartments with two or more bedrooms (90.7%).
5. Durham, NC
From 2016 to 2021, the percentage of workers working from home in Durham, North Carolina rose by 26.8%. And as a result, it currently stands at 31.6%. This is the 13th-highest five-year change in our study and 18th-highest work from home rate. Durham individuals who work from home may also appreciate more working space as more than 84% of homes and apartments in the city have two or more bedrooms.
6. Charlotte, NC
Charlotte, North Carolina ranks in the top 20 cities for three metrics. It has the 11th-highest percentage of the workforce who works from home (34.6%) and the 17th-lowest unemployment rate (5.0%). Finally, from 2016 to 2021, the percentage of workers reporting they work from home rose by almost 28% - the 10th-highest increase in our study.
7. Fremont, CA
In Fremont, California, nearly 49% of individuals work from home. This rate far surpasses most other cities and well above the national average of 17.9%. Fremont also ranks well for its low unemployment rate (4.4%) and high percentage of home and apartments with two or more bedrooms (88.4%).
8. Nashville, TN
Known for its music scene, Nashville, Tennessee ranks as the eighth-best city to work from home. About 23% of its workforce does not commute and the unemployment is 10th-lowest in our study, at 4.3%. Beyond that, Tennessee is one of nine states that does not tax wages, meaning that workers can allocate more of their income towards living expenses and saving for retirement.
9. Gilbert, AZ
Working from home is becoming more common in Gilbert, Arizona. From 2016 to 2021, the percentage of remote workers increased by 21.7%, the 25th-most of all 100 cities. As a result, in 2021, almost one in three workers in Gilbert, Arizona worked from home - the 19th-highest rate in our study. Like in Chandler, homes in Gilbert are typically larger relative to other cities. More than 92% of homes and apartments have two or more bedrooms.
10. Mesa, AZ
Mesa, Arizona rounds out our list of the top 10 cities to work from home. Mesa has the eighth-lowest unemployment rate (4.2%) and 29th-highest percentage of homes and apartments with two or more bedrooms (85.5%). Like in other Arizona cities, a worker earning $75,000 will pay 22.90% towards federal and state income taxes.
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities to work from home, SmartAsset looked at data on 100 of the largest U.S. cities. We compared those cities across eight metrics:
- Percentage of the workforce who works from home. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Five-year change in the percentage of workers reporting they work from home. This is the difference between the percentage of the workforce who worked from home in 2016 and 2021. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2016 and 2021 1-year American Community Surveys.
- Median monthly housing costs. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Unemployment rate. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Income tax rate. We considered the income tax rate for an individual earning $75,000 annually. Data comes from SmartAsset’s income tax calculator.
- Percentage of residences with two or more bedrooms. This includes both owned and rented apartments and houses. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2021 1-year American Community Survey.
- Coffee shop density. This is the number of coffee shops divided by the total number of establishments. Data comes from the 2020 County Business Patterns Survey.
- Bar density. This is the number of bars divided by the total number of establishments. Data comes from the 2020 County Business Patterns Survey.
We ranked each city in every metric. The percentage of the workforce who works from home and median monthly housing costs were double weighted, coffee shop and bar density were half weighted and all other metrics were single weighted.
With those weightings, we found each city’s average ranking and used that average to determine a final score. The city with the best average ranking placed first in our study while the city with the lowest average ranking placed last.
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