The way we work has changed dramatically, and there are great new options for how we work, when we work, and even where we work. Digital nomads are embracing these new options. They land fully remote or remote-friendly jobs and take their work on the road – choosing to work wherever they want – because they can.
If you’re a digital nomad or considering changing your workplace, you’ll want to know where it’s best to go and what to consider when planning to work from anywhere.
The best locations for digital nomads
A new study by Reviews.org used key criteria to evaluate the best cities for remote work. They analyzed technology capabilities (including download speed and number of free Wi-Fi hotspots), cost of accommodation, airport availability, climate, and outdoor experiences (national park and nearest recreation areas).
According to their criteria, the top ten cities for digital nomads are:
- Seattle, Washington
- Portland, OR
- Chicago, Ill.
- Atlanta, Georgia
- San Jose, California
- washington d.c.
- San Francisco, California
- New York, New York
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Denver, Colorado
Of these, San Francisco and San Jose stood out with nearly 300 recreation areas each, while Portland and New York had the least expensive accommodation options. Washington, DC and Philadelphia had the best download speeds.
And which cities can be your worst bets? Of the 100 cities assessed, Mobile, Alabama; Albany, New York; and Portland, Maine, had the lowest score on the criteria on which they were judged.
The search for a “happy place”
Another factor you might want to consider as a digital nomad is happiness. If you want to get to where people are happiest, you can check out a study by Amerisleep, which judged the happiness of states, based on combined measures of health, education, working hours, safety, and more. residents. In their study, the happiest state is North Dakota, followed by Vermont, Nebraska, South Dakota and California. The same study indicates that the least happy states were Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Nevada and Ohio.
The digital nomad lifestyle
When deciding to become a digital nomad, there are a few key things you need to consider about yourself and your work:
- Consider, of course, whether your job lends itself to being away. If you work in a test lab and need to perform hands-on product analysis, then obviously becoming a digital nomad might not be in your immediate future. But if you have the type of job you can work in from anywhere, go for it. You’ll want to think more deeply if your job requires office work. Are there any seasons when it’s more important to be in the office during which you might avoid travelling, for example, but escape at alternate time slots? Or could your employer manage your absence for 6-12 months if you then commit to a longer period with the company? Think creatively about how you might be able to meet the demands of your job in order to stand out.
- Consider your career. Think about how being a digital nomad will help or hurt your career goals. If you want to grow in your company and the face-to-face culture is strong, hitting the road can limit your career. But if your company is open to remote work and it’s the kind of culture in which the breadth of all kinds of experiences is valuable — or if your advancement will happen in other organizations — then digital nomadism could be a good option for you.
- Consider your timing. Some digital nomads choose to move from city to city monthly or quarterly for the foreseeable future. Others choose to take 6-12 months and go out for a set period. Decide on the level of commitment you want to make and communicate your intentions to your employer.
- Consider your instant. You’ll also want to think about the breadth of experience you want to embrace. Do you want to be in 3 cities in a year, or 10? The amount of movement you plan to do will determine whether you choose short-term apartment leases, temporary accommodation, or hit the road in an RV.
- Consider your reach. Decide if you want to stay in the United States or if you want to branch out to other countries. Determine if your interest is primarily to experience all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer, for example, or if you want to visit as many regions as possible, from the South to the Midwest and beyond.
- Consider your goals. Do you want to discover different cultures? How important is a variety of climates and natural environments? And how much do you want to connect to the local community? All of these should be on your radar screen to figure out where you want to go.
- Consider your people. You will also want to think about your relationships. If you are traveling alone, you will have more flexibility; but if your partner has different job responsibilities or career goals, that will count. Or if your kids need more structure – or less – that will be a consideration. Also think about where your distant friends might be. As a digital nomad, for example, you might plan to reconnect with all of your college buddies in eight states.
Of course, your choices will depend on your personal style. You can simply decide on your first destination and leave your options open from there; or you can create a plan based on certain criteria for your experience.
Ultimately, you have a lot of options and good choices, and it’s a new day for how you can choose to work. Start with your own goals for your career and work, then develop a vision for the type of experience you want. As the saying goes, life shrinks or expands depending on the adventures you are willing to have.