Top 10 US Cities for Digital Nomads
Remote work and digital nomads are the biggest trends sweeping the U.S. workforce these past few years. The traditional 9-to-5 office culture has seen a huge decline, and employees (and some employers) are embracing remote work. You might have seen a friend jumping from one city or country to the next, making the most of their digital nomad visa. One week they’re in Berlin, and the next they’re in London, creating a lifestyle for themselves on-the-go.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad can be a full-time remote employee or a remote contractor whose work allows them to have flexible schedules that most traditional 9-to-5 employees do not. Most digital nomads have control over their work schedules and, in return, can balance traveling around.
Startups and tech companies are famous for offering remote jobs in the United States. When employees aren’t tied down to a location, they are free to travel to wherever they desire. While juggling different schedules can be hard and traveling can be expensive, the lifestyle of digital nomads is attainable. Most digital nomads look for the safest big cities in the U.S., or U.S. cities with a low cost of living and a safe environment. However, while living from city to city may seem glamorous to most people, there are still factors to look out for while traveling. First time digital nomads can make mistakes like overpacking, not creating a routine or schedule for work and health, staying in hotels resulting in overspending, and not conducting sufficient research on the city or location they’re staying at. It’s important to conduct sufficient research on the locations you’re planning on visiting.
Best U.S. cities for digital nomads
The United States is a huge country with a plethora of cultures to explore and visit. Choosing a destination can be overwhelming, so we’ve gathered the best cities in the U.S. that are digital nomad friendly. The practical factors people normally look out for are cost of living, safe living environments, and easy and reliable Internet access. The entertainments that digital nomads look for in cities are vibrant cultures, robust nightlives, and new pastimes. With these factors in mind, we’ve gathered the 10 best cities in the U.S. for digital nomads and remote workers.
As the capital of Texas and an entrepreneurial hub, Austin is known for its live music and extraordinary dining scene. This city is the perfect balance between the great outdoors and the bustling city. In recent years, Austin has also established itself as one of the newest tech hubs to some of the largest tech companies in the world, including Samsung, IBM, Apple, and even Bumble, a dating app that empowers and encourages women to make the first move, is headquartered there. With the rise of a tight-knit community, co-working spaces like Fibercove and Wework are readily available. If co-working spaces aren’t your thing, there are also numerous quaint and creative coffee shops and parks to work for digital nomads, all the while enjoying the laid-back lifestyle.
A more budget friendly alternative to Miami, Pensacola is Florida’s most western city with breathtaking ocean views and unique history, charming anyone who passes through. Often referred to as the “City of Five Flags,” Pensacola is known to have changed ownership several times: the Spanish, French, British, Confederate, and American flags have paraded over the cities throughout the years. The entire city is incredibly hospitable to newcomers and hosts several innovative co-working spaces for remote workers. The timezone can be friendlier to digital nomads who work with clients in Europe or Asia, offering more flexibility around their schedules. In 2019, Pensacola was named the second most affordable beach town in the U.S., giving digital nomads more reasons to stay for its rich history, culture, and budget-friendly lifestyle.
Known for its hipster-esque culture and beautiful nature, Portland, located in Oregon, is just a couple of hours away from Seattle, Washington. Portland offers an unsurpassed quality of life with incredible breweries, art establishments, and coffee shops for entertainment, and a number of mountains, streams, and trails to be in touch with nature. You can also pay a visit to the original location of the famous Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland’s Old Town Chinatown. Portland also welcomes digital nomads from all over the world, with inclusive co-working spaces and communities like openHAUS. It’s a city where unconventionalism is appreciated, so any kind of lifestyle will be welcomed.
Nashville has become quite the popular destination among digital nomads because of its low cost of living and flourishing art scene. The city is most known for its country music and is the home of country music legends such as Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. The city attracts a lot of creatives and artists and has slowly built up diverse communities that value innovation and culture. The combination of Southern hospitality and creative ingenuity has given Nashville the title of one of the “top cities for digital nomads,” as listed in a Zillow survey.
Oahu, also known as the surfer’s paradise, is famous for its breathtaking waterfalls, luscious rainforests, and, most of all, endless beaches. As a slightly more affordable place than other cities in Hawaii, Oahu also has fast Wi-fi, coffee shops to work from, and a bustling nightlife. It’s also nicknamed the “Gathering Place,” referring to its world-famous Waikiki Beach, the historic site of Pearl Harbor, and its state capital, Honolulu. The weather is amazing all year round, and digital nomads won’t ever run out of adventures and things to do. At the height of the pandemic, CNN reported that Hawaii offered ‘free round-trip Oahu plane tickets to out-of-state remote workers who want to live and work there while contributing to the state’s economy.’
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah with a view of the Wasatch Mountains, is also quickly becoming one of the best digital nomad cities. There are several outdoor activities for remote workers to do, like skiing and hiking. WorkHive is a popular co-working space where new opportunities often arise. It is locally owned and located in the heart of the city. The convenience of the location attracts digital nomads to work and make friends in this space. A humble cost of living appeals to digital workers who want to set up shop in Salt Lake City. In the long run, this creates a city where networking, working, and going on adventures in the same day is highly doable.
New Orleans, Louisiana
A city rich with history and culture is a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of other cities. New Orleans, a haven for creative minds and free-spirited souls, has long attracted artists, musicians, and writers to enjoy their cultural blend of lifestyles. The city offers a relaxed lifestyle, along with amazing Creole cuisine and entertainment with its own touch of hospitality. The most famous event of all in this city is, you guessed it, Mardi Gras. Established in 1718, the glamorous floats, parades, and costume parties continued long after, welcoming nearly 1.5 million visitors annually to participate in their festivities. In recent years, the city has welcomed digital nomads with affordable living, abundant entertainment, and an inspiring society of different people.
Seattle, Washington is a beautiful and popular city filled with coffee shops and coworking spaces. The location has an easily accessible downtown and outdoors, and has some of the most abundant networking opportunities in the United States. The home of the original Starbucks jumpstarted Seattle’s love for coffee and artistic ventures. Seattle’s beautiful nature and their variety of staple must-go’s, including Pike Place Market and the Gum Wall, has attracted more and more remote workers. Aside from the city’s unique crafts, however, it is also known to be one of the bigger tech hubs in the U.S., with Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in their Metropolitan area.
New York, New York
Oh, the Big Apple. New York is often hailed as the world’s capital and home to some of the biggest fashion, entertainment, and financial icons in history. There are endless networking and socializing opportunities that are amazing for any type of remote worker. It is the financial powerhouse globally, boasting the world’s most sophisticated and busiest financial center. People tend to visit Wall Street and follow the old tradition: to rub the Charging Bulls for good luck and financial prosperity. While New York is on the pricier side, with a little bit of budgeting and research, digital nomads can easily move into one of the busiest cities in the world. Aside from the glamorous events, there are also more laid-back activities to do in New York:
- The upcoming dining scene
- Live music and comedies
- Unique coffee shops along Fifth Avenue
In addition, there are plenty of innovative co-working spaces like Industrious, , and Nomadworks. Some of these spaces also have themes, flexible opening and closing hours, and some even lets you bring in your pets. New York can connect the best talents of each industry together.
Los Angeles, California
The City of Angels could be your next home. Los Angeles offers world-famous beaches and entertainment. From Santa Monica to Malibu, a digital nomad, on their off day, can hit at least a couple of beaches in a day. The coastal city is known for its year-long sunny weather and is the entertainment capital of the world. You can hit Hollywood, the Griffith Observatory, and Griffith Park all in the same day. If you do stay in Los Angeles, however, the main form of transportation would be a vehicle, or getting around could be quite costly from Uber, or unsafe from L.A.’s public transportation. While the cost of living can be a bit on the higher side, choosing the right (and safe) district with budgeting can get you a long way.
With digital nomads and remote working on the rise, more and more U.S. cities are welcoming new tourists with special perks and benefits. Aside from these 10 cities, there are several more locations and destinations that are hospitable and remote work-friendly.
For those who are concerned about cybersecurity during your nomadic travels, check out our article "A Digital Nomad’s Guide to Protecting Your Devices and Data" to learn how to protect your devices and data!
Janice is a contributing writer for Acer with a background in marketing and copywriting. She's passionate about literature, tech, blockchain, and creative trends. She has worked with several clients to grow and position their brands internationally.