Best U.S. Metros for Digital Nomads
Courtesy Zillow Best U.S. Metros for Digital Nomads

According to MBO Partners’ 2020 State of Independence study, nearly 11 million American workers describe themselves as "digital nomads," or remote workers who move frequently from place to place, often in short-term living situations, taking their work with them. This number is up 49% from 2019, and, in 2020 alone, the number of traditional workers working as digital nomads rose by 96%, up from 3.2 million to 6.3 million.

In light of this information, Zillow and Yelp have analyzed their datasets to create a “Digital Nomad Index,” which rates U.S. metros based on how favorable they are to the lifestyles digital nomads are looking for. Metrics include the availability and relative affordability of rental units on Zillow with lease terms under one year, combined with Yelp data on consumer demand and the availability of businesses that cater to short-term residents’ needs—including vacation rentals, furniture rental and assembly, auto and RV repairs, and nightlife or local activities. Yelp also identified cities with large relative growth in a particular business category, incorporating Zillow page view data to determine demand.

"It is clear that this past year has caused many to reconsider their housing needs and wants—and sometimes that means not wanting to be tied to one spot for too long," says Zillow economic data analyst Nicole Bachaud. "Amenity-rich places with a lot of affordable rental units with shorter leasing terms are appealing to many people who no longer have to punch in at the office. More than one in 10 Americans have already moved in the past year, but we think the Great Reshuffling is just getting started."

First on the list is Jacksonville, Florida, where the typical apartment rents for approximately $960. It is the most affordable metro in Florida for the “typical digital nomad” and offers potential residents beautiful views and year-round warm weather. It is among the top metros for consumer interest in furniture assembly, shared office spaces, TV mounting, golf lessons, and brewery tours.

Austin, Texas, ranks second, with typical rents at $1,323, a wide array of local attractions, and strong page views on rental listings. Boise, Idaho, is third, at $1,455 per month, followed by Nashville, Tennessee, and Charleston, South Carolina, to round out the top five.

"These destinations boast a mix of outdoor adventure and city perks that are appealing to the many young professionals who have transitioned to the nomadic lifestyle due to their newfound ability to work from anywhere," says Yelp trend expert Tara Lewis. "They're great for digital nomads and offer a variety of highly rated local businesses and activities these folks are looking for, like shared office spaces, furniture rental, hiking, RV repairs, paddle boarding, and more."

Click here for the full report, including expanded details on each market.