For developers and IT professionals, remote working is especially attractive. Their work is digital by nature—so with a computer and a fast internet connection, developers can work from almost anywhere. Whereas in-person employment models have historically driven people's movement and migration patterns, this freedom of choice allows developers to seek out the best location for them to call home, regardless of their position or career aspirations.
Choosing the best place to work remotely depends on a number of factors, such as cost of living, access to high internet speeds, and quality of life. While everyone will have different needs depending on their work role and desired lifestyle, a few states stand out as the top states embracing remote work. We examined six key areas to determine the best states for remote developers, took a look at their tech and innovation scenes, and determined the best personality type for living in each state.
States were evaluated across the following categories:
- Cost of Living
- Internet Speed
- Recreation and Nightlife
- Outdoor Beauty
- Community Engagement
- Percentage of Remote Employees
Using sources that ranked the states in each category from 1-50, a list was created totaling the combined state rankings in each category. The ten states with the lowest total scores signify states that averaged the best across all five categories.
Starting off our list is the centennial state: Colorado. Colorado plays host to one of the top 3 populations of remote workers in the nation, and it's easy to see why. With some of the country's most robust outdoor recreation opportunities, hiking, camping, climbing, skiing, and more are all on the table for Colorado residents.
In addition, Colorado residents have their choice between rural environments like the picturesque Pagosa Springs, hip health-focused communities such as Boulder, and dense metropolitan areas such as Denver.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Colorado
Colorado is also a hub of technological innovation, with a new digital tech company launched every 72 hours in the state. The state is also home to global corporations AT&T, DISH Network, and IBLM Corporation. Both Denver and Boulder serve as important startup scenes that speak to the outdoor-minded people who live there. In fact, Boulder was even ranked number one for renewable energy, environmental consulting, and green consumer goods startups.
Colorado Is For: The Social Mountaineer
While it may be on the higher side of cost of living (ranking 35th in the nation for affordability), the great internet speeds, access to the outdoors, and ample opportunities for socializing make Colorado an excellent fit for someone who doesn't mind sacrificing a smaller living space for a more active lifestyle.
Outdoor Recreation, Food, and Nightlife
The outdoor recreation in Colorado is unmatched. Skiing in Aspen, rock climbing in The Garden of the Gods, and hiking the Rocky Mountains are all just a few hours away from each other in Colorado. It's estimated that around 92% of Colorado residents participate regularly in some kind of outdoor activity, meaning you're sure to find community regardless of your favorite outdoor pastime.
Just as thriving as its outdoor recreation is Colorado's food and nightlife scene. In Denver you'll find upscale food halls that provide hubs for meetings and socializing as much as they do great food and plenty of options. Boulder is described by Bon Appetit magazine as the "Foodiest Town in America," offering up a wide variety of cultural options for diners.
In the summer, Colorado celebrates one of its signature flavors, the green chili, with plenty of festivals and gatherings based around the iconic flavor. For nightlife, Colorado residents can choose between Denver's hip music hub, Boulder's eclectic, artsy community, or Aspen and Vail's upscale mountain town vibe.
A low cost of living, fast internet speeds, great nightlife, plenty of outdoor recreation, and an incredibly friendly community make Texas an attractive choice for those who work from home.
One important thing to note is the rapid rate at which cities in Texas are growing, meaning those looking for a more urban environment need to decide on a tradeoff between the cost of living in Texas's cities and a more affordable lifestyle in rural areas.
Regardless of city or small-town living, remote developers will reap the benefits of Texas's lack of state income tax and friendly communities.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Texas
Places like Austin, in particular, are growing rapidly, spurred by the large number of startups and tech companies that are coming to call Austin home. Five of the 100 of Inc. 5000’s list of top-growing U.S. private companies are from Austin, and the rest of the state is no stranger to large tech companies as well. In Dallas, remote developers will find Dell, Tesla, and Texas Instruments Incorporated.
Texas Is For: The ‘I-Want-It-All’ Remote Worker
Despite its rapid growth and thriving cities such as Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas still provides a great cost of living for its residents. With the money residents save on rent or home buying, they can take advantage of the plethora of food, art, sports, and adventure options.
Low Cost of Living in Incredible Cities
Food, healthcare, and transportation costs are all lower in Texas than the national average, making it an incredible place to stretch your salary.
In Austin, outdoor adventure, such as swimming at Barton Springs or hiking the Ann and Roy Butler Trail, meets popular patio bars and a thriving arts scene. Houston residents spend their days surrounded by museums, including the Space Center Houston, and chowing through some of the nation's best restaurants.
Over in Dallas, seven different professional sports teams and the independent Bishop Arts District mean there is something for everyone, no matter your interests.
Housing in Texas is fairly affordable compared to other states on this list, and the sheer size of Texas means there is no end of housing options for buyers and renters. Not only are the prices reasonably low, but Texas also provides a low property tax for homeowners. Renters are in luck too—many cities in Texas rank more strongly in favor of renting than buying.
For some remote developers, maintaining a solid support system outside of work is essential, making Minnesota a great place to live. Minnesota ranks highest overall for friendliness and the percentage of remote employees already living there, making this an excellent state for networking and community building.
With access to Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota offers remote developers options for urban living with many great suburbs in between. Minnesota’s cost of living isn’t low, but it isn't high either, making it a great option for low to middle-income earning developers.
Slower internet speeds and harsh winters that can affect the power mean it might be the right fit for someone who doesn't spend too much time on calls or in meetings.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Minnesota
Minnesota is host to some massive tech companies, including Delta, Mayo Clinic, and Optum. For those looking to work with smaller organizations or just getting started on their career track, Minnesota is known for its collaborative spirit and the many mentorship opportunities present in its startup community. Remote developers can find plenty of organizations and events such as tech.mn and Twin Cities Startup Week.
Minnesota Is For: The Friendly Community Seeker
“Minnesota nice” is a common phrase for a reason. The state has a reputation for hosting residents who will go out of their way to say hello, ask you how you're doing, and help strangers in need. Minnesota is great for finding a community with whom you can enjoy its fun and engaging local outdoor, art, and sports scenes.
From the Twin Cities to the 10,000 Lakes
Minnesota is as unique as it is hospitable, with environments ranging from vast prairies to spectacular lakes, trendy cities, and bustling riverside towns.
The Twin Cities offer a fast-paced environment with plenty of shopping, theater, arts, sports, and food to enjoy. In Minneapolis, the hometown of prolific artist Prince, residents have access to the many parks and trails that line the Mississippi River and 22 different lakes within city limits. Neighboring city St. Paul is a diverse cultural capital of cuisine and art and hosts festivals and events year-round to celebrate with the local community.
Minnesota is well known as a state that embraces all four seasons. Home to Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes (and the second largest lake in the world), Minnesota borders its north shore, providing ample opportunities for sailing, road trips, and cycling along the coast in the summer.In the winter, Minnesota residents embrace the cold season. Snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skiing, and ice skating are all popular outdoor activities, while those who want to avoid the cold can head inside to one of Minnesota's craft breweries with friends. Minnesota is also home to many beloved sports teams, but the state is especially known for its thriving hockey fanbase.
Nestled in the heart of the American Midwest, Illinois is a state that boasts an enriching blend of urban environments and rural hospitality. Food, culture, and sports lovers can rejoice because its largest city, Chicago, offers a spectacular range of activities at a significantly lower cost of living than other metropolitan areas such as NYC or San Francisco.
In addition, Illinois already hosts a large percentage of remote workers, making it an attractive place for utilizing coworking spaces and networking events. Those looking for a more rural experience can enjoy an even lower cost of living while still enjoying a beautiful state full to the brim with history and culture.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Illinois
Illinois, with Chicago at its heart, is a bustling epicenter for technology and innovation. Chicago's 1871, named after the year of the great Chicago fire, is an entrepreneurial hub for digital startups and consistently ranks among the top technology incubators in the world. Major global tech giants like Google, Salesforce, and Oracle have established strong footholds in the state.
From biotechnology firms lining the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor to fintech startups disrupting traditional banking in Chicago's Loop, Illinois offers a fertile ground for technological innovation and enterprise.
Illinois Is For: The City Adventurer
For those looking to be in the city, medium to high-earning developers will find that not only do their wages carry them further than other metropolitan areas, but the amenities available make it an even more excellent tradeoff for a higher cost of living.
The Middle of Everything
Despite its sprawling suburban landscape, Illinois has become affectionately known as "the middle of everything" due to the way it sits at the heart of the Midwest.
In Chicago, you can find a hub of culture, food, and entertainment. While it might be known for its deep dish pizza and hot dogs, Chicago offers some of the most incredible dining experiences in the country and an unmatched nightlife scene ranging from catching a Cubs game at Wrigley Stadium to checking out live music at a local dive bar.
In Central Illinois, you can choose between the historic charm of places like Springfield, home to more Lincoln sites than any other place in the nation, or Bloomington, a college city that hosts the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.To the south, you'll find Shawnee Forest Country, Makanda (a vibrant arts village), ample hiking trails, and wine country.
Next on our list is California, one of the nation's largest states. Known just as much for its robust recreation opportunities as it is for its high cost of living, California is already host to a large number of remote workers, with almost 30% of adults living in a household with a remote employee. In addition, California offers fast internet speeds and a high degree of community engagement.
With such an expansive state, developers have their choice of lifestyle, from smaller communities tucked into the forests up north to urban living in San Francisco, and LA or San Diego farther south.
Tech Companies and Innovation in California
Home to Silicon Valley, California has long been lauded for its fast-paced innovation in the world of technology and startups. As the home of tech giants like Apple, Google, and Facebook, cities like San Francisco, San Jose, and Palo Alto have become hubs of innovation, and Silicon Valley has thrived by contributing a newly invented industry to the economy and tech sphere every decade.
Los Angeles, often recognized for its entertainment industry, is rapidly emerging as a robust tech hub in its own right. The city's unique blend of technology and media has also fostered innovation in digital entertainment, virtual reality, and gaming.
California Is For: The High-Earning Socialite
California is an excellent spot for remote workers on the higher end of the pay scale and enjoy taking advantage of nightlife, social activities, and accessible outdoor recreation. Near-constant good weather means setting your laptop up at your favorite restaurant's patio isn't uncommon. Who doesn't like to get a few hours of work done in the sun?
The Diversity of California
California is a massive state with something exceptional to offer in each of its distinct regions.
Up north, residents will find Mount Shasta, foggy coastlines, and massive redwood forests, as well as cooler temperatures and slightly lower costs. Northern California residents can spend the weekends visiting wineries, picnicking beside lakes, and hiking amongst the dense forests with friends.
Farther south is the San Francisco Bay Area, which also houses Berkley and Oakland. These cities are some of the West Coast's top spots for culture, arts, food, and tech. East is the lush city of Sacramento and Yosemite National Park.
Southern California is home to some of the country's highest living costs, but its vibrant cities, such as LA and San Diego, and coveted desert travel spots like Palm Springs and Joshua Tree, more than make up for it.
Remote developers in Tennessee can take advantage of a thriving nightlife and music scene and some of the country's best food spots, paired with an incredibly low cost of living and a lack of state income tax.
While some remote workers experience a lack of connection and friendship that other people build at in-person workplaces, this is hardly the norm in Tennessee. This state is well known for its community engagement, and remote developers are sure to find a social scene that helps to combat some of the remote isolation—whether in the city or more rural areas.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Tennessee
Tennessee, traditionally known for its rich musical heritage and vibrant culture, is making notable strides in the tech and innovation sectors. Health technology, in particular, has seen significant growth here, with companies like Change Healthcare and Acadia Healthcare leading the charge.
Memphis, on the other hand, is becoming a hotspot for logistics tech, leveraging its central location and rich transport history. Chattanooga, fondly called the "Gig City," boasts one of the fastest internet speeds in the Western Hemisphere, drawing tech startups and innovators looking for top-tier digital infrastructure.
Tennessee Is For: The Nightlife-Loving Nomad
While Tennessee may rank in the middle for "fun," we'd be remiss if we didn't give a nod to Nashville, the country's music capital, as well as the incredible history and culture found all over the state.
Music, Barbeque, and Entertainment
Nashville is renowned as one of the premier destinations in the country for experiencing live music, and its thriving world-class culinary and cultural scenes are equally exceptional. In addition, Nashville offers a lower cost of living compared to other cities in the country.
Tennessee is also home to iconic spots such as Dollywood, Graceland, historic live music venues, and many music festivals and fairs.
From east to west, Tennessee residents have access to the nation's top barbeque spots, and you can even plan a road trip on your days off to try all the best barbeque the state has to offer.
For the culture lovers out there, Tennessee offers near-nonstop options for being immersed in America's history. The Country Music Hall of Fame, Battles for Chattanooga Museum, and the Great Smoky Mountains (to name a few) provide entertainment, recreation, and learning opportunities for Tennessee residents.
If large living (and working) spaces and warm weather sound attractive, Georgia might be the right fit for you. Georgia has a low cost of living, and for developers who earn around or below average, Georgia is a great place to stretch your salary.
Georgia has relatively good internet speeds and plenty of choices for city living, including Atlanta, Savannah, and Augusta. Well known for its arts, culture, and history, Georgia provides plenty to do in your off hours and a thriving social scene.
Remote working is particularly attractive in Georgia, where traffic can be bad, adding an extra benefit to those who can take advantage of the low cost of living and housing prices while avoiding the commute.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Georgia
Atlanta, the state's central hub, stands out as the Southeast's premier tech city. Often referred to as the "Silicon Peach," Atlanta houses an array of startups and tech companies that span sectors like fintech, health tech, and logistics. Notably, it's home to global companies like NCR Corporation and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The Atlanta Tech Village, one of the largest tech entrepreneurial hubs in the U.S., is a testament to the city's commitment to nurturing startups and fostering innovation. Outside of Atlanta, cities like Savannah and Augusta are also making their mark with emerging tech scenes, especially in cyber security and digital arts.
Georgia Is For: The Community and Culture Explorer
Well known for the arts, culture, and history that exist around every corner, Georgia provides plenty to do in your off hours and a thriving social scene.
History, Art, and Culture
For history enthusiasts, the state is home to a number of significant sites, from the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta to the stunning and storied architecture in Savannah. Civil War history is well-preserved in Georgia, with museums and historical sites like Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park offering a glimpse into the past.
For art lovers, Georgia doesn't disappoint. Atlanta, the state's capital and most populous city, is a hub for contemporary art with a growing street art scene and numerous galleries. The High Museum of Art, one of the leading art museums in the South, houses an extensive collection of classic and contemporary art.
Outside of Atlanta, the vibrant arts scene extends to smaller cities like Athens, known for its indie music and arts scene, and Savannah, where the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) greatly influences the local culture.
Georgia's culture is as warm and inviting as its weather. The state is famous for its Southern hospitality, a trait that extends from its largest cities to its smallest towns. Residents celebrate diverse cultural festivals throughout the year, including the Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Savannah Music Festival, and the Georgia Peach Festival, reflecting the state's rich blend of cultural influences.
For remote workers who want to hit the slopes through the winter and hike through some of the nation's most unique outdoor spaces in the summer, Utah is hands-down the ideal destination.
Utah ranks number five for percentage of remote workers already in the state. Many of those remote workers take advantage of the easy access to the Southwest's outdoor recreation, making it the perfect spot for developers who want to travel on the weekends.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Utah
The region between Salt Lake City and Provo is bustling with startups and established tech giants alike. Companies like Qualtrics, Pluralsight, and Domo are shining examples of Utah's homegrown success stories that have reached global acclaim.
The state's tech scene isn't limited to software; Utah boasts a strong presence in biotech, digital marketing, and e-commerce sectors, with companies like Ancestry.com and Overstock.com headquartered there.
Utah Is For: The Family-Focused Recreationalist
Because of its relatively high cost of living, Utah might be best for medium-to-high-income earning individuals who want to take advantage of Utah's expansive outdoor sports scene, or for young families looking to form community with other new parents.
Adventure and Community Across the State
With 70% of Utah belonging to public land, it's no wonder most residents take advantage of its iconic outdoor landscapes and recreation opportunities. To the south lie two cities that serve as important gateways to the outdoors: Moab provides access to Arches National Park, and further to the west is the city of St. George and Zion National Park.
Three large rivers, the Colorado River, the Green River, and the San Juan River, provide ample fishing and rafting opportunities, while the state's many hot springs give residents a chance to sit back and unwind after a hard week at work. Further north is Salt Lake City, the state's largest metropolitan area, and Park City, offering top-of-the-line skiing experiences.Utah's appeal doesn't stop at adventure-seeking. Equally as meaningful is Utah residents' strong sense of well-being and support of families, making it a great place to find family-friendly programs, connect with other parents, and conquer the outdoors together as a family unit.
The low cost of living and gorgeous outdoor spaces make Michigan an excellent choice for those who would like some room to spread out. Michigan offers very different atmospheres in each of its cities.
Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids each provide a different lifestyle for residents, meaning you're sure to find the right fit in this expansive state. Michigan even offers a Move to Michigan campaign, which incentivizes remote workers to move to Michigan's southwest coastal communities.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Michigan
Detroit, once the undisputed capital of American automotive production, is now revving up as a hub for mobility technology, with research and advancements in autonomous vehicles, electric cars, and smart transportation systems. Companies like General Motors and Ford are pioneering innovations right from their Michigan bases, while startups are flocking to the Motor City to be at the forefront of the automotive tech revolution.
Outside of the auto sector, Ann Arbor stands out as a tech hotspot, buoyed by the presence of the University of Michigan, a significant driver of research and tech talent.
Michigan Is For: The Suburban Dreamer
Whether you're yearning for a spacious and cost-effective life or an urban explorer who desires culture and excitement, Michigan offers dynamic cities, stunning landscapes, and the vast expanse of its Great Lakes. Ideal for the parent who wants to commute into a city for coworking spaces while enjoying the cost of living it provides their family.
Big Cities and Greater Lakes
For those drawn to more urban environments, Detroit, with its rich history and vibrant revitalization efforts, offers a blend of culture, dining, and entertainment. In Ann Arbor, the prestigious university provides an intellectual and artistic vibe to the small but beautiful city. In Grand Rapids, a thriving arts scene, lively breweries, and a strong sense of community make it a great place to live.
However, Michigan's true treasures lie in its connection to the Great Lakes, which provide a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and water lovers alike. From sandy beaches to endless water activities, the expansive lakes offer an escape from the bustling city.Whether you're into boating, fishing, hiking, or simply soaking up the breathtaking views, Michigan's coastal regions provide some of the nation's most beautiful and unique beaches.
Oregon and Washington
Rounding out our list is a tie between two very similar states: Oregon and Washington. Many Oregon and Washington residents already work from home, making these states desirable places for remote developers.
With gorgeous outdoor spaces, moderate weather, and plenty of opportunities for socializing and recreation, it's easy to understand what makes Oregon so attractive to remote workers. Oregon's downside comes from its very high cost of living, with it being the second most expensive state to live in on this list.
Much like Oregon, Washington offers plenty of outdoor activities and general recreation for its residents. Unfortunately, Washington is one of the most expensive states to make a home in the nation, meaning it might be best for single people or high-salary earners.
Tech Companies and Innovation in Oregon and Washington
In Oregon, Portland leads the way thanks to its burgeoning tech ecosystem. This vibrant city is home to a plethora of startups and established companies alike, with a particular emphasis on software development, green tech, and semiconductor manufacturing. Companies like Intel have substantial operations here, while the city's startup culture thrives on innovation in sustainability and digital solutions.
Just north, Washington stands as a titan in the tech world, largely anchored by the presence of two global behemoths: Microsoft and Amazon. Seattle, the state's largest city, is a hive of innovation, not only in software but in aerospace (thanks to Boeing), biotech, and cloud computing. Beyond Seattle, cities like Bellevue and Redmond are integral parts of this tech ecosystem, boasting advanced research facilities and a high concentration of tech talent.
Oregon And Washington Are For: The Socially Conscious Outdoorsman
Oregon and Washington are an excellent choice for a high-earning outdoor enthusiast who wants to spend their weekdays developing apps in coffee shops and their weekends in the mountains.
Coffee, Tech, Art, and the Outdoors
Oregon and Washington are both havens for socially conscious remote workers. The states have a higher than average commitment to environmentally friendly values, reflected in the state's eco-friendly cities and lush green spaces. The states are also well-known for their prolific coffee and beer scenes—you'll always have a spot to post up and get work done with a great drink.
Most of the lower cost of living is found in the east of both states, while the western half provides many options for urban living nestled amongst the forests.
Washington is home to Seattle, host to Amazon, Microsoft, and Boeing, and is one of the top tech cities in the country, making it a desirable place to meet other developers and remote workers. In the eastern half of Washington lies the riverfront city Spokane.
In Oregon, Portland, Eugene, and Salem all offer artistic, eclectic communities for those who work from home to be a part of.
For smaller cities, Washington residents can check out Olympia and Bellingham. In Oregon, the outdoor-focused artsy community of Bend is an excellent alternative to the larger West Coast cities.
The landscape of these two states is dramatic, varied, and a beacon for outdoor enthusiasts.
Residents can visit the Haystack Rocks along the coastline, camp among lush national forests, hike towering mountains, and explore the vast sagebrush plains.
Narrowly missing the top ten list are two East Coast states that deserve a special mention.
Maryland scores with the highest percentage of remote workers already living in the state and in the top 3 for internet speeds, meaning you're sure to have a good remote working experience.
With its proximity to the ocean and essential East Coast hubs, this state is a great choice for those who occasionally need to meet up with people from their team in the city before heading to the beach for seafood on the weekend. On the downside, it outranks both Oregon and Washington in cost of living, making it an expensive choice.
Virginia offers high internet speeds and a large number of remote workers, much like Maryland, but with a significantly lower cost of living. You can live in the mountains, hike the Appalachian trail on the weekends, or settle down by the coast and work from a home office with a beach view.
If you have to travel for work, you'll have easy access to the airports in DC, Charlottesville, and Norfolk, and a multitude of Amtrak hubs as well. More metropolitan parts of the state have a higher cost of living, especially around DC, but the suburbs and small towns offer a less expensive option for remote workers.
Complete State Rankings
- Oregon (Tied with Washington)
- Washington (Tied with Oregon)
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- New York
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- South Dakota
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
- West Virginia
- North Dakota
The surge in remote work, particularly among developers and IT professionals, represents a transformative shift in employment models and lifestyle choices. As this trend continues to rise, remote workers will find they have more and more agency when choosing a location to live, regardless of their career path.
Factors such as cost of living, internet speed, and quality of life are now paramount in deciding where to reside. As remote work becomes increasingly normalized, it is likely that more states will adapt and compete to become attractive hubs for the remote workforce.