With the enormous flexibility that Work From Home (WFH) offers homebuyers, we help you explore the scenario: “If you could live anywhere, where would you live?”
By 2025, 22% of the American workforce will be remote, according to Upwork, one of the world’s largest freelance talent marketplaces. This projection would equate to as many as 35 million Work From Home workers (taking 22% of a 2019 figure of 157 million total workers from Pew Research). The longer the Work From Home trend continues, the greater the impact this phenomenon will have on both corporate cultures and individual preferences in the labor market.
For those seeking or already experiencing the geographic flexibility inherent to Work-From-Home employment, here’s what to consider when asking yourself:
“If you could live anywhere, where would you live?”
Table of Contents
- Are You a Remote Worker?
- Current Work-From-Home Trends & Stats
- The Emerging Freedom of Remote Workers to “Roam About”
- Cities and States are Taking Note of Remote Workers
- Criteria for Choosing an Ideal Location for Remote Work
- Cities Offering Incentives to Recruit Remote Workers
- Income Tax Tips for Remote Workers
- Remote Work Resources
- Recommended Reading
Are You a Remote Worker?
Remote workers are defined as employees who share an arrangement with their employers that allow them to work in a separate location other than the employer’s location. Other terms for remote work programs include:
- Work From Home (WFH)
- Distributed Work
The benefits of remote employment have been proven by the increased employee work time efficiency, as commuting time is virtually eliminated. Employees benefit from stress relief as they can clock in at normal hours, having had the benefit of an additional two hours of sleep with no traveling anxiety.
Current Work-From-Home Trends & Stats
- According to Pew Research, more than half of employed adults who have been working from home over the past two years would prefer to continue working from home all or most of the time
- The share of remote job listings on LinkedIn grew more than 8.5 times during the period from March 2020 (1.9%) to August 2021 (16.3%)
- 90% of employees say they are “as productive” or “more productive” when working remotely as compared to working in an office, according to Owl Labs
- 57% of workers who returned to working in the office stated that they would prefer working from home full-time (Owl Labs)
- 71% of workers want a hybrid or remote working style going forward (Owl Labs)
- Only 36% of workers believe the office is best suited for individual work (Owl Labs)
- For workers who secure full-time remote jobs, their place of residence will be determined by affordability and personal preferences
- Expect the Work-From-Home trend to evolve quickly to a Work-From-Anywhere approach with improvement in collaboration technologies and a workforce highly skilled in their usage
Though the benefits of working from home are obvious and many, innovative companies have also experienced – perhaps surprisingly – benefits of a remote distributed workforce that portend that remote working is here to stay. The corporate discussion has evolved from whether to allow remote working to what percentage of remote working is optimal.
When opening their workforce to the remote community, companies are able to attract higher caliber applicants. Additionally, virtual or online collaboration technologies have proven their overall effectiveness for geographically disparate colleagues.
This trend represents a huge buying opportunity for potential homebuyers, and especially for aspiring first-time buyers, who may have started out their careers in super expensive and competitive housing markets (e.g. San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles).
The Emerging Freedom of Remote Workers to “Roam About”
The biggest impact of distributive workforces is that full-time remote work can liberate workers from having to live near their physical place of employment. Now, they can choose to work for a high paying employer, yet live in an attractive, low-cost city.
According to Owl Labs, more than a quarter (27%) of employees, who worked from home during the past two years, relocated during that time, with younger employees (ages 21-40) temporarily relocating 14 times more than older workers (ages 40+). Of those workers who moved:
- 78% moved from an urban location
- 41% moved to another state
- 13% moved to another country
- Millennials represented over half (50%) of the moves to another country, followed by Gen X at 33%
This powerful flexibility can be manifest in enormous buying power, especially in terms of homeownership. In other words, who wouldn’t enjoy having big market buying power, in more affordable, less competitive, smaller markets that are actually more attractive than urban centers?
Cities and States are Taking Note of Remote Workers
Many cities and states are beginning to recognize that remote workers can bring in a boon of taxable wages, previously inaccessible, while helping to improve their workforce profiles. This is a newer approach, as historically, many cities and states have offered economic incentives to companies, but not all corporate incentive programs had proved to return a net positive in terms of tax income.
We curated a list of highly attractive cities which remote workers should strongly consider for their wide array of benefits, incentive plans and various other criteria. Listed in alphabetical order, we chose these cities based on factors that are important for short-term and long-term career and life balance.
Criteria for Choosing an Ideal Location for Remote Work
The following cities were chosen based on criteria that are important for remote working situations. In our personal experience as consultants, we recognize that the ideal scenario allows workers to actively participate and engage with colleagues via web-based applications that encourage collaboration. However, bandwidth alone is only part of the fundamental factors for selecting a city that is ideally suited for remote work.
Here are our full criteria:
- High Speed Bandwidth
- Distance to Nearest Airport
- Income & Sales Tax Rate
- Property Tax Rate
High Speed Bandwidth
Bandwidth is ubiquitous in major cities, however, as you migrate outward, toward rural areas, high speeds such as 100-499 Mbps are not always readily available. We measured High Speed bandwidth coverage for cities that fit within our other parameters. Bandwidth speed should also be checked as a “Red Flag” criteria, as in you should not risk living in a location that has subpar high-speed Internet access.
Distance to Nearest Airport
As remote workers move away from major metropolitan cities, they need to be careful not to stray too far out into isolated areas, as there may still be a need to travel by plane from time to time. Making sure that you are not at the mercy of a “one flight a day” airport is crucial, should you be required to attend mandatory meetings or other events that require short-notice air travel with options. We measured distance from the nearest commercial airport to the city center or downtown district.
Being relatively close to an airport could also be perceived as a positive intangible when being compared to other remote job applicants.
Income & Sales Tax Rate
Cost of living in a particular city can be measured by that city’s effective tax rate or sales tax for goods and services. However, we have discovered that if your city is excellent in other criteria, but has a higher than normal effective tax rate, it can be simple to purchase your goods and service from a neighboring city with a lower tax rate.
Property Tax Rate
Property taxes for homeowners, and even for renters, as they will eventually feel the burden in rent increases, is an extremely important criterion, as a lack of control on this rate can surprise you without notice. Fortunately for some states, such as California with its landmark law Proposition 13, homeowners and renters can be protected from sizeable increases in property taxes year over year, despite their increases in land and home values.
To become familiar with comparable property tax rates across the country, we highly recommend exploring the Tax Foundation’s property tax resource page.
|High Speed Coverage (100-499 Mbps)
|Airport Distance in Miles from City Center
|Top Marginal State Income Tax Rate*
|City Sales Tax Rate
|Median County Property Tax**
|Colorado Springs, CO
|The Woodlands, TX
Cities Offering Incentives to Recruit Remote Workers
In a rush to improve their employee tax base and intellectual workforce, cities, counties and states are also offering incentives to remote workers to move to their areas. Many of these programs are available to both current remote workers and traditional office workers. Incentives can range from outlays of cash, to free shared workspaces, to free remote educational opportunities.
- Boulder & Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Camden, Maine
- Lexington, Kentucky
- Madison, Wisconsin
- Naples, Florida
- Topeka, Kansas
- Tulsa, Oklahoma
- The Woodlands, Texas
Boulder & Colorado Springs, Colorado
The state of Colorado offers many remote jobs in sales, information technology, healthcare, education and customer service, as it enjoys a healthy robust job market. Although the monetary incentives for remote workers benefit the employer versus the employee, Colorado has much to offer in terms of quality of life and their Equal Pay for Equal Work law, which mandates that job postings must be transparent by providing salary range information when posting job openings in the state, including for remote workers.
Perhaps the best example of providing a healthy incentive for younger, remote workers is that provided by the state of Maine. As part of their push to increase their young working population, Maine is currently proposing to pay off a remote worker’s student loans for first-time homebuyers in the state!
The program does have a cap of $40,000 per worker and also includes other stipulations by which applicants must abide. This is encouraging since the price of land is comparatively lower than major housing markets.
The city of Lexington is considering a $3.4 million proposal that would lure up to 200 high-wage remote workers to the Lexington-Fayette area over the next two years. The plan’s proposal is to offer each worker $10,000 in moving allowances, which would in turn bring in millions of dollars in income taxes, while benefiting the talent pool with an influx of high technology workers.
With its unique cheese, bratwurst and beer culture, Madison, Wisconsin has plenty to offer remote workers looking for plenty of fresh air and land. Although the state of Wisconsin has no formal remote worker program, the state does provide a number of tax credits for small business owners, and their distributed teams.
The greater Naples, Florida Chamber of Commerce is in the process of developing a remote Work-From-Home marketing campaign designed to lure cold weather inhabitants to the Sunshine State. Although the current plan does not promise tangible assets, such as money, Naples is offering plenty of outdoor quality of life options that cold weather workers may find appealing year-round. The plan is to offset the number of low-skilled workers with higher-skilled employees to balance the workforce and the economy.
Choose Topeka is perhaps one of the best known Remote Worker initiatives. Launched in 2019, the Topeka, Kansas program to lure workers to the state is offering $5,000 for renters and $10,000 for homebuyers in cash for eligible recipients to move to Topeka. Employers must be based outside of the Shawnee County area, and provide eligibility for employees to relocate and work remotely in a full-time position in order to qualify. Applicants must commit to purchasing or renting a home within a year of hire or within a year of their move to Topeka.
Tulsa, Oklahoma offers the remote worker program known as Tulsa Remote, which offers numerous benefits, including $10,000 cash, free desk space in a downtown, high-quality workspace building and apartments curated specifically for Tulsa Remote participants. To foster a sense of community for remote workers, the city of Tulsa has designed a program of events and meetups to help keep remote workers engaged in local organizations, nonprofits and with each other.
Virtual Tour of 36 Degrees North: Tulsa’s Basecamp for Entrepreneurs
The Woodlands, Texas
With a remote work force of 11.3%, The Woodlands, Texas has plenty of small business programs to entice remote entrepreneurs. Although the state does not have any formal remote worker incentive programs, the Product Development and Small Business Incubator Fund offers loans from $1 million to $5 million for capital injection. Several other Texas state programs allow small businesses to earn tax credits and other incentives for hiring workers or securing large-scale projects.
Income Tax Tips for Remote Workers
States that Do Not Have Income Tax
There are nine states that currently do not charge state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
New Hampshire, however, does tax interest and dividends, which are both scheduled to be phased out starting in 2024. Washington has an income tax on capital gains of high-earners, only.
Remote Tax Obligations
Be sure to research tax implications before accepting a remote job, especially if your employer is based in New York state. In this example remote work scenario, a person remotely working and residing in California that is paid by a New York-based employer, could be taxed by each state, in other words, doubled taxed!
Regarding New York-based employers, in general, one or more of the following rules must be met to prevent your being taxed by the state of New York:
- Employees must work from home out of necessity
- A home office is near a facility that is required for doing the job that the employer’s office cannot provide.
- The remote employee regularly meets with clients at their home office
- The remote employee does not have a dedicated workspace at the employer’s office
- Advertising, business cards or letterhead list a remote worker’s home office as one of the employer’s offices
- New York-Based Employees Who Work Remotely Out-of-State Are Subject to New York Income Tax
- Remote Workers May Owe New York Income Tax, Even If They Haven’t Set Foot in the State
- The Tax Headaches of Working Remotely
Remote Work Resources
Remote Worker Incentive Programs & Resources
- Choose Topeka
- Tulsa Remote
- 36 Degrees North: Tulsa’s Basecamp for Entrepreneurs
- Texas Remote Work Resources
- WorkLodge The Woodlands Coworking Space
- The Opportunity Maine Educational Loan Tax Credit
- Wisconsin Remote Work Resources
- Naples Chamber to Launch Campaign to Attract Remote Workers
- Kentucky City Debates Spending $3.4M to Lure Remote Workers
- Ascend, West Virginia Remote Worker Incentive Program
- Alabama Remote Shoals Remote Worker Incentive Program
- How Working from Home Is Reshaping the Housing Market
- How Remote Work Impacts Your Home Search
- Remote Work Trends Mean Flexibility for First-Time Homebuyers
- First-Time Homebuyer Incentive Programs by State
- National First-Time Homebuyer Incentive Programs
- Down Payment Assistance Programs by State
- Tax Foundation’s Center for State Tax Policy
- State and Local Individual Income Tax Collections per Capital
- How High Are Property Taxes in Your State?
- Tax Foundation Tax Maps
- Where Do People Pay the Most in Property Taxes?
- Tax Tips for Employees Who Work at Home
- Your Top Tax Questions About Working Remotely, Answered
Remote Job Sites & Work From Home Trends
- Flex Jobs
- Virtual Vocations
- We Work Remotely
- Flex Jobs: Top 100 Companies to Watch for Remote Jobs in 2021
- 2021 State of Work From Home by Owl Labs
- The Top 20 companies on a hiring spree for remote workers this year
Professional Training Courses for Remote Workers
- 10 Working from Home Training Courses
- Getting Started with Zoom Meetings (Video Webinar)
- Colorado Remote Work Training Initiative
Recommended Reading by Purgula
- Researching a Neighborhood: Frequently Asked Questions
- Current Home Building and Buying Trends
- Proptech that Enables Homebuyers to Make All Cash Offers
- Never Thought You’d Own Land? Think Again!
- Home Inspection Technologies to Alleviate Your Purchase Anxiety
- What is a Turnkey Home in Today’s Market?
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