The COVID-19 pandemic caused a seismic shift toward working from home. A recent study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that, of the 25,000 respondents surveyed, 14.6% were already working from home, and 34.1% had shifted to working from home due to COVID-19. Nearly half the US workforce, working from home. Let that sink in.
For many, remote work may be here to stay. As reported by Vox, 74% of organizations plan to permanently shift some employees to remote work. Post-pandemic, it’s estimated that 30% of the workforce will work from home at least a couple of times a week.
What does that mean for you? It could mean more choice in where to live. When you can work from home, factors such as commute times and proximity to airports or public transit no longer weigh so heavily. Other factors, however, increase in importance. For example, do you have strong WiFi, and how much does it cost? What about average electricity and natural gas costs? Is your home big enough to be comfortable for remote working? Can you even GET a job that allows you to work from home?
Widespread working from home is a relatively new phenomenon. That means studies, surveys, and rankings about the best places to work from home are still in their infancy. People are still figuring out what matters most — and that some of those things can be hard to quantify via metrics. We’re trying to answer the question anyway. Welcome to Covered’s list of the 10 best states for working from home.
How Did We Rank the 10 Best States for Working From Home?
Well, we did our best. We began by pulling together a range of studies that have tried to answer the question from various angles. (Scroll down to view the gloriously rainbow-colored table that resulted. It gives a snapshot of each study.) We also added in U.S. News & World Report’s latest ranking of the “Best States.” After all, shouldn’t factors such as the average costs of internet and electricity be balanced against the question of, “Is this genuinely a great place to live?” Then we looked at all the data in the aggregate, trying to gauge which states rose to the top.
So no. Covered’s ranking of the 10 best states for working from home is not at all scientific. But we’re still proud of it, because it doesn’t rely on looking at the question from only one or two angles. We’ve got loads of angles! And with no further explanatory dithering, here are the states we chose. They are presented in no particular order, except that, naturally, our favorite state goes first.
First, let’s be clear: We are absolutely biased, because Denver, Colorado, is Covered’s hometown. But the data itself tells a compelling story. In addition to being ranked as one of the top ten best US states to live in (#10), Colorado had the highest share of our workforce working from home even before COVID-19. In other words, working from home already worked for a sizable chunk of our fair state. And Denver, our bright and beautiful capital, has been recognized as a great city for remote workers given how it stacks up on metrics like WiFi speed, number of coworking spaces and coffee shops, and commute time saved.
If we were doing a numerical ranking, we might have to put Texas first. To start with, it’s got an insanely high number of work-from-home jobs, especially in the categories of data entry, accounting/finance, and software development. It’s also one of the least expensive states for working from home, with a lower cost of living and some of the lowest-cost internet in the nation. Notably, three Texas cities — Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas — made a top ten list of the best cities for remote workers in the US. Need we say more?
Virginia offers a similarly intriguing proposition. It’s got a high number of work-from-home jobs, high levels of internet access, and a relatively low cost of living. It’s also one of the least expensive states to work from home in. Two of its major cities — Arlington and Richmond — have been recognized as great cities for remote workers. On top of all that, Virginia is recognized as one of the best states to live in overall (currently #7), doing particularly well in the areas of education, opportunity, crime and corrections, and fiscal stability. Maybe the state should rethink its “Virginia is for lovers” slogan: “Virginia is for remote workers”? Okay, maybe not.
Whatever work-from-home study you’re looking at, Washington state makes a pretty impressive showing. People working from home can rely on high levels of access to high-speed internet, low electricity costs, and a solid number of work-from-home jobs. Two of its cities, Bellevue and Seattle, have been recognized as places where a high percentage of jobs can be worked remotely. Best of all, it’s currently ranked as the #1 best state to live in, scoring near the top of the charts on education, health care, economy, infrastructure, and environment.
With loads of work-from-home jobs, a lower cost of living, and higher average home square footage (lower density in homes = more space to spread out), Georgia definitely deserves a spot in our top ten. Atlanta in particular has been recognized as one of the best cities for remote workers. Overall, Georgia does get lower scores on cybersecurity, and more jobs COULD be worked remotely than ARE being worked remotely. But that figure is likely to continue improving in Georgia alongside the rest of the nation.
Arizona absolutely makes the grade — while adding to the Southwest region’s strong showing in our list. Not only is it one of the least expensive states to work from, but it also earns solid, consistent scores across most working and living environment metrics referenced in the studies we reviewed. In addition, it offers a large percentage of jobs that could be worked remotely. In Scottsdale in particular, it’s estimated that almost 36% of jobs can be done remotely.
Another Colorado neighbor makes the list! But make no mistake: Utah ably stands on its own. Currently ranked as the #4 best state to live in, it offers a healthy economy backed by impressive infrastructure and fiscal stability. It also gets high marks for education and health care. The state capital of Salt Lake City has been lauded as a great place to be a remote worker. Beyond all that amazingness, it scores well in terms of actual vs. potential work-from-home jobs and internet access. That said, it’s worth noting that the state doesn’t get high marks on cybersecurity.
The sole Midwestern state to make our top ten, Illinois earns its spot given its relatively low cost of living (including low-cost internet and utilities) and high number of work-from-home jobs. The three most popular remote career categories in Illinois are graphic design, data entry, and accounting/finance. Finally, since we can’t help feeling like we’re managing to undersell this fine state, we’ll call out that Illinois also gave us deep-dish pizza, Abraham Lincoln, and the great city of Chicago.
North Carolina had a strong showing in many of the studies we reviewed. Why? To start with, it’s got a ton of both potential and actual work-from-home jobs, especially in the areas of data entry, computer/IT, and nonprofit/philanthropic. The state capital of Raleigh has been recognized as a fantastic city for remote workers. Beyond all that, they’ve got some great work-from-home conditions, including high scores for cybersecurity and high-speed internet access. Those positives help to counterbalance one notable negative: North Carolina has some of the most expensive internet in the nation.
As the sole New England entrant on our list, Massachusetts has two main things recommending it: A large number of remote jobs on offer, and status as one of the ten best states to live in. According to the current rankings, it’s #1 in the nation in education, #2 in health care, and #4 in crime and corrections. Not too shabby, eh? Could outweigh the state’s higher-than-average cost of living.
Descriptions of metrics are overviews only. Please visit each source to learn more about the underlying methodology used for each study.
Making the Right Choice for YOU
No matter what the rankings say, the best state to live in for any remote worker is ultimately the one that best fits their lifestyle and finances. So, much respect to the states and territories we didn’t include, all of which are still perfectly lovely places. Because one of them may be the best place for YOU to work from home!
Anyway, none of our United States of America should feel too terribly full of themselves. Thrillist’s ranking of “The Best Cities in the World for Americans Who Want to Work Remotely” includes cities located everywhere from Indonesia to Canada and Germany to South Korea. Notably, not a single US city makes their ranking.
Bonus Insurance Tip:
Your homeowners insurance policy may provide coverage for property damage or bodily injury incurred in the course of work-at-home activities. But you should still make certain your company has installed appropriate cybersecurity on your computer, as you are liable for protecting company information. Running your own business from your home? You may need more coverage, depending on the scope and nature of what you do. Talk to your insurance agent or provider to ensure that you understand your coverage options and limitations. Lack of disclosure could result in denial or non-renewal of coverage.
Have questions about whether your homeowners insurance policy gives you sufficient coverage for your work-at-home activities? Give us a call at (833) 487-2683 or send us a message. One of our expert insurance advisors will be happy to do a free policy review!