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Remote Workers Are the Happiest Renting in the Southeast – The Most Desirable Cities for Working from Home Are in the Carolinas

With remote work migration on the rise, we uncovered the most desirable cities to move to across the nation if you work remotely. In particular, cities in the nation’s Southeast — led by Greenville, SC, Raleigh, NC and West Palm Beach, FL proved to be the best locations for working remotely this year by offering the best mix of features, affordability and remote work-readiness.

Nowadays, if your job is fully remote, it’s common to say goodbye to your hometown and move somewhere else for a few months (or forever) in search of a better, cheaper life. In fact, the internet abounds with stories of people who did exactly that. A recent Upwork study unveiled that 4.9 million Americans have already relocated due to remote work and almost 19 million more are predicted to do so in the near future.

However, if you’re going to upend your life and go through the trouble of moving across the country, you should choose your new location carefully. That’s why we created a unique index that shows you the cities in the U.S. where remote workers truly get the best value for their money, as well as the best features for a great work/life mix.

With this purpose in mind, we analyzed and weighted 19 relevant metrics for 150 cities, using proprietary and external data, such as cost of living, apartments with short-term leases, rental demand, number of high-quality apartments, short-term rentals, rental rates, coworking spaces, percentage of remote workers, internet speed, and much more. The final city ranking is determined by the combined score in all 19 metrics.

So, if you’re ready to move, look toward the South and Southeast, where we identified several cities that offer the perfect balance between comfort, value, leisure and remote work-readiness. Specifically, Greenville, SC, Raleigh and Durham, NC, West Palm Beach, FL, and Tampa, FL came up on top as the most desirable places for remote workers. Other towns in Texas, Georgia, Alabama and Maryland rounded out the top 10.

Renters Who Work from Home Do It Best in the South or Southeast

Here are the top 50 U.S. cities where you’d want to move if you are a remote worker:

1. Greenville, SC

Ranking best in:

  • Share of new apartments
  • Cost of living
  • Share of short-term rentals

Greenville ranks first as the best city for remote workers, earning high scores in several relevant categories, including apartment size, availability of short-term leases and cost of living. Notably, apartments in Greenville are among the largest in the country — which speaks to the level of comfort that you are getting in this charming Southern city, especially when you need extra space for a comfortable home office. The city also offers plenty of short-term rentals — in line with the growing interest in relocating to South Carolina.

2. Raleigh, NC

Ranking best in:

  • Share of high-end apartments
  • Share of apartments with internet access
  • Share of remote workers

With a booming job market and highly educated residents, Raleigh ranks in second place. The city also scores 12th for the availability of high-quality apartments, as well as 13th in terms of access to broadband internet, thereby providing a reliable internet connection and great conditions for working from home. At the same time, the city has the 14th-highest number of remote workers in the country, proving that it’s already becoming a popular destination for professionals who work from home. Also notable, Raleigh recently earned the title of the second-best city for renters in 2022.

3. West Palm Beach, FL

Ranking best in:

  • Average download speed
  • Days with good air quality
  • Share of short-term rentals

It’s not just golf that attracts people to West Palm Beach. The third-most desirable city for remote work has lots of good things going for it: It ranks first in the country for internet speed and fourth for air quality. The city is also 14th on the list for most short-term rentals, which is ideal for remote workers who want to relocate temporarily and enjoy the best of what Florida has to offer.

4. Tampa, FL

Ranking best in:

  • Rental demand
  • Share of remote workers
  • Share of apartments with access to sport amenities

Reinforcing Florida’s appeal not only to retirees, but also to working professionals, Tampa claims fourth place in the ranking. Among the qualities that earned it the #4 spot were large apartments and easy access to sports amenities. Tampa also has the third-highest rental demand in the country, which shows just how many people choose to relocate to Tampa. Additionally, the number of remote workers living in Tampa is also among the highest in the nation — solidifying its position as a sought-after hotspot for those who can work from anywhere.

5. Durham, NC

Ranking best in:

  • Share of short-term rentals
  • Share of high-end apartments
  • Rental demand

Durham is the nation’s fifth-most desirable city for remote workers, boasting a high number of short-term rentals and a great selection of high-quality apartments. Remote workers here can benefit from enticing job opportunities and comfortable living spaces, all while working from home.

6. Alpharetta, GA

Ranking best in:

  • Share of high-end apartments
  • Share of remote workers
  • Average square footage

The “technology city” of the South, Alpharetta claims the sixth spot. It has the most high-end apartments of all of the cities included in the ranking, therefore offering great options for a comfortable living. The city also boasts the second largest apartments of all of the cities analyzed. Plus, a high number of remote workers already reside here, which means you’ll be among other like-minded professionals. Notably, a large share of Alpharetta apartments also has access to sports amenities, encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle. At the same time, the fact that it ranks third in broadband ensures that remote workers have a great internet connection for working remotely.

7. Huntsville, AL

Ranking best in:

  • Rental demand
  • Cost of living
  • Average daily rate

The seventh-most desirable city for remote work is Huntsville, Alabama. As a matter of fact, Huntsville was a “most moved to” city during the pandemic when the flexibility of remote jobs first allowed for more choices in terms of location and living. As a confirmation of its rising appeal, our research shows that Huntsville ranks 15th in rental demand and 19th in cost of living, which makes it an attractive destination for relocation. Remote workers who rent in Huntsville can also benefit from affordable housing, as the city has lower rents compared to other locations.

8. Columbus, GA

Ranking best in:

  • Average square footage
  • Average download speed
  • Share of short-term rentals

Columbus, Georgia is the eighth-most desirable city for remote work. A popular spot for lovers of the great outdoors, Columbus is a true gem that offers a great cost of living (#16 on our list), as well as one of the fastest internet connections, scoring in the 14th position. Additionally, renters in Columbus benefit from ample apartment space, due to it being the top city in terms of most space per person — a big plus for renters, in general, including those with a home office.

9. College Station, TX

Ranking best in:

  • Short-term rentals occupancy rate
  • Share of renters
  • Share of apartments with access to sport amenities

College Station — the home of Texas A&M University — takes the ninth position in the ranking. In particular, the city’s short-term rentals exhibited one of the lowest occupancy rates in the nation, which means that there are plenty of options here to choose from when looking for a temporary place for remote work. It is also among the top cities where apartment-dwellers have the most access to sports facilities. College Station is also the 12th place on our list with the highest number of renters, making for a perfect location for both long- and short-term residents.

10. Rockville, MD

Ranking best in:

  • Average download speed
  • Share of apartments with internet access
  • Share of remote workers

One of Maryland’s oldest towns, Rockville gives off an urban/suburban mix feel that ensures its residents get the best of both worlds. And, when it comes to remote workers, Rockville rounds out the top 10. More precisely, the city scores third-highest among the cities with the fastest download internet speed, as well as the fifth-best city for access to the internet. What’s more, Rockville came in fourth place for the most remote workers — a clear sign of the city’s appeal and popularity.

11. Round Rock, TX

Ranking best in:

  • Access to internet connection
  • Number of high-end units
  • Number of apartments with access to sports amenities

12. Charlotte, NC

Ranking best in:

  • Number of high-end units
  • Number of remote workers
  • Occupancy rate

13. Austin, TX

Ranking best in:

  • Number of remote workers
  • Average download speed
  • Number of apartments with access to sports amenities

14. Jacksonville, FL

Ranking best in:

  • Average square footage
  • Number of high-end units
  • Cost of living

15. Conroe, TX

Ranking best in:

  • Number of high-end units
  • Share of new apartments
  • Number of apartments with access to sports amenities

16. Orlando, FL

Ranking best in:

  • Number of days with good air
  • Number of apartments with access to sports amenities
  • Share of renters

17. Lafayette, LA

Ranking best in:

  • Average download speed
  • Average daily rate
  • Number of short-term rentals

18. Atlanta, GA

Ranking best in:

  • Number of remote workers/co-working space
  • Short-term rentals occupancy rate
  • Share of remote workers

19. Naples, FL

Ranking best in:

  • Share of remote workers
  • Average square footage
  • Average download speed

20. Macon, GA

Ranking best in:

  • Average square footage
  • Cost of living
  • Short-term rentals occupancy rate

Other notable cities that made the top 50 best locations for remote workers are: Tallahassee, Sarasota, Fort Lauderdale, Pensacola, Lakeland, Melbourne and Fort Myers, FL; Plano, Lubbock, Houston, Amarillo, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth, TX; Greensboro and Wilmington, NC; Birmingham, AL; Columbia, SC; Omaha, NE; Chandler, AZ; Kansas City, MO; Savannah, GA.

Winning cities for remote workers by category

To determine the cities that excel in the different categories included in our index (remote work-readiness, comfort, leisure and rental demand), we put together a top 20 category ranking. Click on the buttons below to see the winning cities by category:

These Are the Top 3 Most Desirable Cities by Category:

Remote work readiness: Rockville, MD, Irvine, CA and Plano, TX.

Comfort: Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers and Sarasota, FL.

Leisure: Fort Myers, Naples and West Palm Beach, FL.

Rental demand: Kalamazoo, MI, Harrisburg, PA and Birmingham, AL.

Methodology

  • RentCafe.com is a nationwide apartment search website that enables renters to easily find apartments and houses for rent throughout the United States.
  • We analyzed the top 150 U.S. cities with the highest number of rental apartments.
  • To determine “The Most Desirable Cities for Remote Workers”, the RentCafe analytics team used a composite index to compare cities across five main categories: Leisure, Affordability, Comfort, Rental Demand and Remote Work Readiness.
  • The five main categories were compiled from 19 relevant metrics. Each metric received a score based on rank position, from 1 to 150; the best value from each metric received maximum points, then the result was multiplied by the metric’s given weight.
  • To create the category index, the process of ranking was repeated and then the results were multiplied by each category's overall weight.
  • Proprietary apartment data is sourced from Yardi Matrix, a RentCafe sister division, covering apartment buildings of 50 units or more. All other sources used as cited below.

Ranking metrics and data sources:

Category 1: Affordability, category weight: 25%

  1. Cost of living and housing: Weight: 48%; Source: The Cost-of-Living Index
  2. Average market rent: Weight: 32%; Source: Yardi Matrix
  3. Average daily rate for short-term rentals: Weight: 20%; Source: AirDNA

Category 2: Remote work readiness, category weight: 24%

  1. Share of remote workers: Weight: 25%; Source: Bureau of Census
  2. Access to internet infrastructure: Weight: 25%; Source: Broadbandnow
  3. Average download speed: Weight: 25%; Source: Broadbandnow
  4. Number of remote workers per coworking listing: Weight: 25%; Source: CommercialCafe

Category 3: Rental demand, category weight: 19%

  1. Rental Demand: Weight: 31%; Source: AirDNA
  2. Availability of short-term rentals – up to 6 months: Weight: 21%; Source: Yardi Matrix
  3. Apartment occupancy: Weight: 16%; Source: Yardi Matrix
  4. Share of renter-occupied households: Weight: 16%; Source: Bureau of Census - American Community Survey 2020 - 5 - Year Estimates
  5. Occupancy rate for very short-term rentals: Weight: 16%; Source: AirDNA

Category 4: Leisure, category weight: 16%

  1. Natural Amenity Rank: Weight: 25%; Source: Economic Research Service - Department of Agriculture
  2. Days with Good Air Quality: Weight: 25%; Source: EPA Air Quality
  3. Sunny days/year: Weight: 25%; Source: Best Places
  4. Share of apartments with access to sport amenities: Weight: 25%; Source: Yardi Matrix

Category 5: Comfort, category weight: 16%

  1. Share of new apartments: Weight: 33%; Source: Yardi Matrix
  2. Share of high-end apartments: Weight: 33%; Source: Yardi Matrix
  3. Apartment average size: Weight: 33%; Source: Yardi Matrix

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the research, graphics, and images presented in this article. When doing so, we ask that you credit our research 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.

Laura Pop-Badiu
Laura Pop-Badiu
Laura Pop-Badiu is a creative writer at CoworkingCafe, with a marketing background in the reputation management and hospitality industries, as well as the real estate segment. Having graduated with a degree in Journalism, Laura has a genuine passion for the written word and is an avid reader of horror, thriller and literary fiction. She enjoys researching and writing about lifestyle trends and the real estate market and her work has been featured in major publications like Forbes, CBS News, The Sun, Multifamily Executive, RisMedia and La Noticia. You can connect with Laura via email.

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