The United States is a huge, well-developed country. So we already know that being a digital nomad therein offers access to a number of cities with their own respective attractions and chill out spots for laptop-based remote workers. And if you don’t like one location, the infrastructure of the nation easily allows you to bounce to the next.
So the purpose of this listing isn’t necessarily to promote its entries as travel destinations. Rather it is to delineate, based on a compilation of research, what are considered the best cities in the United States for digital nomads.
Indeed, how much you’re able to enjoy being in the US, especially as someone engaged in a transitory lifestyle, is likely to depend heavily on your income. That may be generally true across the globe, but also keep in mind that the United States has the highest costs of living for a country with a large population. So in this case, we will also emphasize the cost of living in each of the respective cities listed.
13. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, a state that is considered to be naturalistic as compared to many others. Besides that, it is situated in colder regions of the US. And those are considered to be Salt Lake City’s biggest draws if you will, i.e. its natural backdrop coupled with an environment that favors those who prefer chillier weather.
Moreover, Salt Lake City is actually an emerging technological hotspot, in that the nearby city of Lehi has become known as Silicon Slopes (i.e. a location akin to California’s Silicon Valley).
As far as how much it costs to live in any American city, statistics are going to vary, because people tend to have different lifestyles and responsibilities. But again, you presume that, as a digital nomad, your expenses may be higher than the average person, due for instance to your likely dependency on short-term as opposed to long-term housing. And in general, Salt Lake City is known to have a slightly yet noticeably higher cost of living than the national average.
12. San Francisco, California
Speaking of US cities with higher costs of living, San Francisco is actually one of the priciest metropolises in the country and the second-most expensive (according to some studies) on this list, thus ranking amongst the world’s most-expensive cities in general.
But as far as technological hotspots go, traditionally nothing beats the San Fran area, as it is home to Silicon Valley itself, which is important to point out since digital nomads have a tendency to favor urban areas that are also known to be high-tech.
As such, San Francisco is very much in tune, or some may even say at the forefront of the digital nomad movement. For example, the city is known to be replete with co-working spaces, i.e. communal areas where you will be in direct contact with those living a similar lifestyle.
But again, the caveat is the cost of living. All things considered, it wouldn’t be out of the way to speculate that if not for that particular factor, i.e. its priciness, San Fran would have made it to the top of this list.
11. Nashville, Tennessee
It may feel like a surprise to those of us familiar with Nashville’s reputation to find out that this city is a preferred destination for digital nomads, with this part of the country being known as sort of an outback.
But Nashville is the center of the country-music industry and with that in mind can be considered the third-most important city, after L.A. and New York, of the American music industry at large.
So accordingly it does have a vibrant culture, which is said to be its biggest draw as far as digital nomads are concerned. Besides that, whereas it isn’t necessarily cheap to live in Nashville, being a bit higher than the national average, it is still one of the most-affordable options on this list.
10. Los Angeles, California
Living in Los Angeles is generally considered to be even more expensive than San Francisco, so L.A. more firmly stands as the second-costliest city on this list.
Hollywood itself is a part of Los Angeles. And the reason we’re pointing that out is because L.A. is also one of the most-famous cities in the world.
We vowed not to make this post about tourist attractions, but of course Los Angeles has plenty besides Hollywood, as well as an A list nightlife. Attractions can easily become distractions in the world of digital nomads, but the point being made here is that you’re not likely to find yourself bored in Los Angeles.
On top of being a major and celebrity-fueled urban center, L.A. also has beaches and a Mediterranean environment, so it has indoor and outdoor appeal alike. But again, all of this comes at a high price.
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
In terms of overall appeal, Las Vegas boasts more international visitors than even Los Angeles itself. Las Vegas doesn’t have any beaches, and, being located in the middle of the Mojave Desert, its climate isn’t what typically would be defined as a pleasant one.
But it is considered a marvel of a metropolis. And with its bright lights and sleepless night, Sin City, as Vegas is also called, can prove excitable even to visitors who aren’t into the likes of casinos and strippers.
This is another area where, if you really need to get some serious work done in a short amount of time, perhaps is best avoided due to the sheer number of potential distractions. Las Vegas is along the lines of being a straight-up tourist city and should be respected in that regard.
Some good news though is that the cost of living appears to be just about on par with the national average (based on some studies). Furthermore, Nevada is one of the few US states that doesn’t charge its residents income taxes. So if you are a digital nomad who’s required to pay taxes otherwise, that’s definitely something to take into consideration, that you’ll have a few extra coins to wager on slot machines (or whatever you want to spend it on).
8. Phoenix, Arizona
Just a stone’s throw away from Las Vegas on the world map is Phoenix, the capital of the nearby state of Arizona. In fact the last three entries we covered – Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix – are all within the same general vicinity (i.e. southwestern United States) and therefore can be visited on a single round.
That said it may be a bit surprising to find Phoenix on this list, a city which itself is technically situated in a desert, though not being nearly as popular as Las Vegas. Also, being found further south, Phoenix is noticeably hotter than Vegas, which is saying a lot considering how warm this part of the country is in general.
But that said, Phoenix is also known to have a vibrant ICT sector. Moreover, it has a very-low population density for a major city (with Phoenix actually being one of most-populous metropolises in the United States).
So it’s as if here you can enjoy the best of both worlds, i.e. big city life though without that feeling of over-crowdedness. And this definitely appears to be a more ideal setting for a digital nomad, than the likes of Las Vegas or Los Angeles, if you really need to get some work done.
7. Miami, Florida
As far as this list goes, there is no entry considered as beachy as Miami. By and large, Florida is deemed the only part of the United States that is truly tropical. As such, Miami has a very strong appeal to the likes of retirees and vacationers. Furthermore, it also holds the distinction of being one of the most-visited city by foreigners in the US after the likes of New York.
Besides that, Miami boasts a notable international community due to its proximity to the Caribbean and Latin America. Also, it has one of the most-celebrated nightlife scenes in the entire country. So of course this is the kind of place that would appeal to a digital nomad, i.e. a tropical environment coupled with First World amenities and attractions. And in general living there does cost more than the national average but is not on par with places like San Francisco, Los Angeles and NYC.
6. Seattle, Washington
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the warmness of the south comes the chill of the north. As far as entries on the list go, Seattle is as high north as we get. And that can actually prove to be an advantage for digital nomads, since the cold tends to slow things down, which is better for concentration’s sake.
Besides that, Washington is known as a state with a lot of nature, and Seattle holds the distinction of being in close proximity to a number of such attractions. Moreover, some of the biggest companies in the world, including IT giants like Microsoft and Amazon, have deemed this city worthy to call home.
Also on that list, by the way, is Starbucks, with Seattle as a whole boasting what has been described as a “coffee shop culture”. What that means more specifically as far as digital nomads are concerned is that there are a bunch of public venues specifically designed to accommodate the likes of patrons who spend hours chillin’ therein on their laptops.
Unfortunately, a recurring theme on this list has been that the best digital nomad cities in the United States also tend to have a higher cost of living. And that is very much true for Seattle, which is considered one of the 10 most-expensive cities to reside in stateside.
5. Boise, Idaho
This has to be the most shocking entry to make this list, besides the fact that it even scored this high. Boise is the capital of Idaho, a relatively-obscure state which is best known to Americans for growing potatoes.
But Boise is beautifully natural as far as major cities go and happens to be one of the fastest-growing metropolises in the country. And that is in notable part due to Californians, including techies, deciding to relocate there.
Living in Boise is definitely less expensive than San Francisco, but it appears to be more or less on par with Salt Lake City (which isn’t that far away). Boise is reportedly an affordable place to live. But again, it is a capital city with a fast-growing population (of well-paid Californians), so the cost of living is also said to be increasing accordingly.
4. Austin, Texas
Although California is the only state on this list with two entries, the wider research which served as the basis of this post would imply that Texas may be the best overall state for digital nomads. Texas is huge with a number of major cities, and the weather tends to be warm as compared to some other parts of the nation. Furthermore, Texans also are granted the privilege of not having to pay state taxes.
Dallas and Houston have been recognized as being ideal cities for digital nomads. But Austin, the capital of Texas, is even more celebrated in that regard. This reportedly has a lot to do with it being a metropolis where the likes of digital nomads and entrepreneurs are highly respected.
So accordingly there are a number of public areas where you can settle down with your laptop and work. And the coolest thing about it is that out of this entire list, this may actually be the cheapest city to live in overall.
And again, while in Texas you can use the opportunity to hit up Houston and Dallas, both being more popular than Austin and also digital nomad hotspots. Or if you’re feeling really brave, you can even venture down to Mexico (and more specifically Mexico City). It is understandable why the Lone Star State would be especially attractive to digital nomads considering its close proximity, if you will, to Latin America, which is home to few notable remote worker hubs itself.
3. Portland, Oregon
Oregon may not be a particularly well-known state. But one of its cities, Portland, is a pretty popular metropolis. Furthermore as far as this study is concerned, it ranks high as being a cool place for digital nomads to settle.
This is yet another entry on this list found in the northwestern section of the continental United States. As with Seattle and Boise, Portland is likewise known to have a number of prominent natural attractions in the immediate area.
So whereas us digital nomads obviously prefer urban areas with the types of amenities necessary to rightfully engage in remote-computer work, we also, as indicated by the list, enjoy being around nature in some way, shape or form. And as far as the USA goes, it just so happens that major cities with natural backdrops tend to most commonly be found out (north)west.
Portland is also known as having a pretty distinct culture as compared to other US cities. The caveat though is that the cost of living here is significantly higher than the national average.
2. New York City
You know that we had to get to New York sooner or later. This is the top tourist destination in the United States, thus also making it one of the top 10 visited cities in the entire world. It also just so happens that New York is the most populous of US cities, by a wide margin at that. And we at Greetings From Abroad have already pointed out in the past how NYC – and its center, Manhattan, in particular – is chock full of world-class attractions.
But along with that popularity also comes Manhattan being the most-expensive city in all of the United States. If you know and are comfortable with the system, there are ways to get around without spending as much dough. But then, the nearby borough of Brooklyn, when counted on its own (though technically being a part of New York City), holds the distinction of being the fourth most-expensive US metropolis (according to Kiplinger).
So ultimately, there’s only so much you can do to save money in NYC. Spending time as a digital nomad in one of the utmost-popular cities in the world comes with its financial consequences. But if you are able to endure, of course New York City boasts a very artsy and creative community, where the likes of people who are able to survive via a laptop are rightfully embraced. And being able to boast that you were able to successfully practice digital nomadism in NYC has to be akin to a badge of honor.
1. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta isn’t a large metropolis compared to the other big names on this list. But that actually works in its favor, as this city is relatively clean and well-organized. In fact the ATL is so quaint that, based on appearances alone, it’s easy to believe that not much is going on here. But in reality it is part and parcel of Georgia’s contributions to the film industry, one of the most significant cities of the American music industry and is also considered to be the hub of southern African-American culture.
It just so happens that Georgia, as a whole, is one of the least-expensive states to live in. And whereas living in Atlanta, as expected, is pricier than the national average, it isn’t terribly so. Moreover the weather tends to be warm, and there are a number of public areas where digital nomads can do their thing. So it is such privileges and attractions that have earned Atlanta the distinction of being considered the top hotspot for digital nomads in the USA.
One of the best things about being a digital nomad within the United States is the sheer number of choices as far as where to spend time. All of America’s cities tend to be well-developed and wealthy by world standards, so acquiring access to privileges such as free wifi really isn’t much of a challenge.
What it ultimately boils down to, in terms of where to temporarily settle, is two factors. First is, what type of environment do you prefer? Do you like colder or warmer weather? Would you rather be in a densely-populated metropolis as opposed to a sparsely-populated one? Do you favor nature or are cool being in a hardcore-urban setting?
And second, of course, is your budget. The United States is an expensive country to live in general, and that’s especially true as far as its urban centers are concerned. But whereas residing in some cities may be costlier than others, if you’re earning enough as a digital nomad such differences will only matter so much anyway. And that’s really the key to enjoying digital nomadism stateside, which is making sure your earnings can rightfully afford such a lifestyle.