Lifestyle

All Work & All Play: The Best U.S. Destinations for Remote Work this Summer

COVID-19 has altered the way the entire world works. With working from home becoming much more common now than it used to be, some people are getting tired of being at home all the time and are thinking of making the most of it by working remotely from somewhere else — such as a vacation spot away from the big crowded city. If you have to do the same, here are some options in a summer without many options.

Not being tied down to one location for your job sounds like a dream come true. However, there are many factors to consider when looking for a new place to work from — especially now since traveling continues to be discouraged.

The most important factor in ranking these locations was the COVID-19 infection rate (June 28th – July 5th). However, given how fast the situation continues to develop, the list is susceptible to changes. If you must make a move to any of the places on our list, remember to stay safe, adhere to social distancing norms as much as possible, and be mindful of any possible imposed quarantine periods and travel restrictions.

To select the best spots, we looked at the most searched U.S. vacation destinations on Google, focusing on less-crowded cities with fewer than 600,000 people. We also made sure there were plenty of apartment buildings that offered short-term leases, that the cost of living was reasonable and that the internet speed was acceptable.

Whether you already rely on telecommuting, have just started working remotely, or are looking to give it a try as soon as it’s safer to do so, here are the best destinations for remote work in the U.S.:

1. Santa Fe, NM


With a high share of short-term leases and a great internet speed, sunny Santa Fe is a nice place to relocate to temporarily for a change of scene while you work remotely and stay safe.

In particular, if you need to unwind, a stroll down Canyon Road should do the trick. It culminates as you reach the Sangre de Cristo Mountains — a sight to behold at the end of a particularly busy day. However, admiring the Pueblo-style architecture can also be just as effective in a city so full of history. Most importantly, this city has the second-lowest COVID-19 infection rate on the list.

2. Colorado Springs, CO


Do you crave nature as you sit working at your computer between four walls? If so, Colorado Springs has just what you need and more. In addition to the third-lowest infection rate on the list, Colorado Springs also has the third-best internet speed — although you might not have WiFi for your Zoom calls in its underground caves.

Here, you can enjoy the best the Rockies have to offer to any outdoor aficionado (or professional just looking for some fresh air), including a variety of hikes, breathtaking trails and zipline adventures. Plus, escape the city and forget the stress with a side trip to the Garden of the Gods to check out the out-of-this-world red rock formations or Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the only mountain zoo in the country.

3. Vancouver, WA


Affordable living, great internet speed even for watching some Netflix on your breaks and a low COVID-19 rate make Vancouver a great place for remote work. Best of all, you can also start your day properly with a good cup of coffee by Vancouver Lake as you recharge your batteries for a new working day. And, while Esther Short Park might be a bit short on public events and festivals this summer, the 35 bells chiming every 15 minutes are as soothing as ever.

Notably, this charming city celebrates its past while also embracing modern times. While you’re here, marvel at the restored 19th-century houses on Officers’ Row and check out all of the statues that keep popping up around the city. Then, when you’re done exploring Vancouver culture in the city, take a walk on the wild side and check out Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. You can also go to the Silver Star Mountain for a mandatory Vancouver hike that will take your breath away.

4. Asheville, NC


Need a short term lease? There are plenty to choose from here. Want great internet, too? You got it. Asheville could be exactly what you need.

If you’ve visited Asheville before, you know the term “cool” is almost overused when describing this bohemian city. It’s a favorite among foodies, outdoorsy people, art folk, and just about any subculture you could think of. Asheville has something for everyone — the beer, food and awesome street art are just the icing on the cake.

Surrounded by mountains and water, there’s plenty of outdoor activities to choose from whenever you need a break from your laptop. For example, try bellyaking, which is kayaking on your belly using special gloves for paddles. Or, for gentler stress relief, check out the Biltmore Estate, take a stroll in the foothills, or just look around and feast your eyes on the greenery. Furthermore, if your remote work vacation in Asheville happens to last until fall, you’ll be lucky enough to see the leaves turn. The colors are beyond your imagination and you’ll finally understand what all the fuss is about.

5. Honolulu, HI


If the idea of working remotely makes you think of a sunny beach with WiFi, chances are that you’re already picturing Honolulu. We can’t talk domestic hotspots without mentioning this sunny gem that’s not only gorgeous, but also boasts a low COVID-19 rate and a generous share of short-term leases. It also blends cosmopolitan and tropical vibes to perfection with traditional dishes and some of the best cocktails that you can enjoy as you turn off your laptop for the day. Plus, visit tropical rainforests and waterfalls straight out of a fairy tale, and take advantage of the best activity to help you unwind on the weekend — fishing.

Despite Honolulu having the lowest infection rate on our list, avoid crowded beaches and popular attractions like Pearl Harbor. Rather, choose to explore the island’s untamed beauty, instead. Take your pick of several hiking trails that are sure to give you the views of a lifetime. Speaking of views, let’s add Diamond Head peak, Makapu’u Point Lighthouse and the Honolulu Botanical Gardens to that mix. They’re just a few of the entries on a long Honolulu bucket list.

6. St. Louis, MO


You may not think of St. Louis as a typical vacation destination, but the Gateway to the West is actually the most-searched-for spot on our list.

When you log off and get to know Missouri’s largest city, you’ll understand its sightseeing potential. For instance, you can do the usual, such as visiting the Missouri Botanical Garden, the zoo and go up the Gateway Arch. Or, you can go a bit off the beaten path and check out the caves underneath the city — which are said to have been used during prohibition, visit the outdoor Laumeier Sculpture Park and check out the amazing mosaic art of the Cathedral Basilica.

7. Tulsa, OK


Tulsa is more than “OK” if you want to combine a budget-friendly urban destination with a comfy place where you can work remotely from. Here, there’s no shortage of short-term leases here, so you have plenty of apartments to choose from.

With enough Southern charm to woo even the strictest city-bound professional, Tulsa may be just what you need to quench your thirst for history, culture and sports. Plus, it has the second-fastest internet speed on the list.

Start by visiting the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, checking out the Praying Hands after you finish drafting emails and learning more about Native American heritage between Zoom meetings.

8. Santa Cruz, CA


Mixing business with pleasure is easy in a picture-perfect beach town like Santa Cruz. Surf City didn’t earn its nickname for nothing. It even has a Surfing Museum to prove it.

While you’re here, step away from the boardwalk and busy beaches and find some inspiration in the city’s apple orchards. Head over to West Cliff Drive or take hikes in Wilder Ranch and Big Basin State Parks for enough natural scenery to last you for your entire remote work period.

9. Milwaukee, WI


Milwaukee’s cool summer festivals may not be an option at the moment, but the city has plenty more to offer on the side. Affordable living and great internet speed are just some of the benefits that come with working from here.

Specifically, if you’re looking to admire the architecture, start with the Allen-Bradley Clock Tower and the Basilica of St. Josaphat. And, be sure to check out all of the street murals while you’re at it! Meanwhile, visiting the Harley-Davidson Museum is a must, much like unwinding after meetings on the waterfront.

Or, avoid the city crowd and escape to the shores of Lake Michigan, bike on the Oak Leaf Trail, or take a drive and explore the quirky towns nearby. If the outskirts are not your thing and you’re mainly missing happy hour with colleagues, squeeze in a cold brew after work.

10. Virginia Beach, VA


The most important criteria when looking for a place to work remotely from is likely internet speed, and Virginia Beach has it.

Other perks of this resort city include just about anything you could possibly desire — sun, outdoor activities, fresh air and good seafood. The best thing is that you don’t need to head over to cramped beaches to enjoy them. You can bask in the Virginia sun just about anywhere in this coastal city.

After you’re done working for the day, check out the Aquarium and Marine Science Center, make a short climb to Cape Henry Lighthouse or get rid of pent-up stress in First Landing State Park. Likewise, be sure to set aside a weekend to explore the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, as well as the Bethel Beach Natural Area Preserve.

With social distancing still being the norm, you might think of working remotely somewhere else while you isolate. A nice scenery can do wonders for your productivity, but remember to stay safe and consider traveling only if you must.

Top 50 U.S. Vacation Spots for Remote Work

RankDestinationSearch Volume PopulationInternet Speed Covid-19 RateShort Term Leases Rent & Utilities
1 Santa Fe, NM16,33083,84793.103.7160%$1,457
2 Colorado Springs, CO47,150457,502168.505.5760%$1,473
3 Vancouver, WA30,080178,413149.006.5863%$1,642
4 Asheville, NC17,78090,531115.507.0064%$1,516
5 Honolulu, HI27,060350,003102.601.5875%$2,226
6 St. Louis, MO49,810311,273108.407.7954%$1,344
7 Tulsa, OK13,910402,223168.808.1972%$996
8 Santa Cruz, CA17,21064,27392.605.6555%$2,867
9 Milwaukee, WI22,850596,886126.007.9864%$1,453
10 Virginia Beach, VA25,030450,135193.107.2147%$1,559
11 Albuquerque, NM17,980559,20293.108.5678%$1,156
12 Anchorage, AK10,420296,11258.606.7583%$1,537
13 Monterey, CA14,01028,51292.6016.989%$2,435
14 Pittsburgh, PA35,250303,587144.7011.6257%$1,568
15 Sacramento, CA30,510495,01192.608.2267%$1,758
16 Minneapolis, MN31,550416,021161.408.7251%$1,861
17 Knoxville, TN10,480185,429132.708.9048%$1,410
18 Grand Rapids, MI10,990197,081113.309.0755%$1,382
19 Chattanooga, TN26,570177,365132.7017.8761%$1,328
20 New Orleans, LA124,510389,648109.4012.7136%$1,482
21 Omaha, NE14,910465,11290.3012.3562%$1,255
22 Dublin, OH12,16045,559102.1015.5372%$1,517
23 Salt Lake City, UT32,090195,701127.5023.5377%$1,521
24 Cleveland, OH21,530387,398102.1013.3434%$1,488
25 Raleigh, NC17,080457,159115.5014.9663%$1,525
26 Daytona Beach, FL18,43066,520167.8019.4216%$1,393
27 Santa Barbara, CA31,61091,32592.6017.5753%$2,489
28 Des Moines, IA13,760215,93278.9017.1135%$1,211
29 Reno, NV14,540242,633112.1017.9465%$1,530
30 Santa Monica, CA12,40092,07892.6013.9156%$4,047
31 Greenville, SC13,42065,727125.0030.6277%$1,432
32 Napa Valley, CA11,470137,74492.6010.9913%$2,513
33 Wilmington, NC11,170118,094115.5018.7754%$1,462
34 Hollywood, CA12,40085,48992.6013.9121%$3,151
35 Tucson, AZ22,130539,216149.1028.5961%$1,247
36 Atlanta, GA107,410479,655150.6027.6668%$1,814
37 Cincinnati, OH30,880300,357102.1019.7515%$1,365
38 Savannah, GA20,770145,342150.6036.3368%$1,466
39 Panama City Beach, FL14,94012,683167.8031.9740%$1,673
40 Baton Rouge, LA11,620225,362109.4029.5761%$1,335
41 Sarasota, FL11,99056,102167.8025.0030%$1,744
42 Myrtle Beach, SC60,43031,783125.0060.3260%$1,433
43 Long Beach, CA13,830468,88392.6013.9137%$2,432
44 Galveston, TX22,08050,039163.7048.8150%$1,463
45 Birmingham, AL19,270212,021111.8033.4746%$1,371
46 Waco, TX11,220133,964163.7052.2775%$1,343
47 West Palm Beach, FL14,550108,365167.8032.9041%$1,772
48 Anaheim, CA12,050349,66892.6019.1038%$2,192
49 Orlando, FL102,910275,690167.8044.7131%$1,722
50 Fort Myers, FL16,98076,591167.8042.839%$1,589

Methodology:

RENTCafé is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.

For each destination, we calculated the final score using six indicators: COVID-19 infection rates, online search volumes, population, internet speed, inventory of short-term leases and the cost of rent and utilities.

COVID-19 infection rates were calculated using data made available by USAFacts, representing the (7-day moving average) daily new cases per 100k people by county (June 28th – July 5th). This indicator was given a higher weight in each destination’s rank calculation, representing 50% of the final score. Other metrics were weighted at 10% each.

Online search volumes for each destination were provided by Google Keyword Planner and represented the monthly average search volumes between June 2019 and May 2020. Only destinations with more than 10k average monthly searches in the last year were included in the analysis.

For population data we used the U.S. Census Bureau’s 5-year American Community Survey (ACS). Only included destinations with populations of less than 600k were included.

For internet speed data we used a Broadbandnow state-level report compiling the “fastest average speed” data from MLabs, which represents the average of all speed test results that were in the top 90th percentile in a given state.

For the short-term leases inventory data we calculated the share of properties out of the total RENTCafé inventory where the option for renting a unit for 6 months or less was available. Cities with fewer than 5 properties or without any short-term lease units in the RENTCafé inventory were excluded from the analysis.

The cost of rent and utilities was obtained by adding state-level monthly average utility costs (previously calculated in a RENTCafé study) to May average rents for each city, based on Yardi Matrix data.

For customized data and other requests, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the images in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to RENTCafe.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology. For more in-depth, customized data, please contact us at media@rentcafe.com.

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About the author

Alexandra Ciuntu

Alexandra is a creative writer and researcher for RENTCafé. With a background in e-learning content writing and a passion for knowledge-sharing platforms, she has previously covered topics from prop-tech to renters insurance. She now enjoys researching and writing about the renting lifestyle, renter demographic shifts, and residential real estate market trends and news. You can connect with Alexandra via email.

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