Remote work means pretty much anywhere you can get Wi-Fi is a good place to work from home (WFH), right? Well, there’s more to it than that, especially if you’re a real estate investor who's looking for a place to flip or maybe even hang out while you do some local prospecting for more good deals to take advantage of the WFH trend.
A new report that ranks criteria that includes the percentage of remote-friendly jobs, broadband availability, and having at least one spare bedroom for a home office has chosen one city that rises above the rest: Raleigh, North Carolina.
The report from Filterbuy -- titled Cities Most Prepared to Work From Home -- uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and 2019 American Community Survey Public Use Microdata Sample (ACS PUMS) and a "novel dataset from a recent study on remote-friendly occupations."
Maryland, Virginia rank highest, Arkansas brings up the rear
The report splits metro areas by population -- 100,000 to 349,999, 350,999 to 999,999, and 1 million or more -- and also looked at state-level data. East Coast states tend to rank the highest in WFH readiness, while the South lags.
The report said: "The two states flanking Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, rank the highest in the country according to the composite score. Over one-third of jobs in each of these states can be performed from home, and a large proportion of households in both states have computers and high-speed internet access." .
Meanwhile, Arkansas’ composite score was the lowest: "Just 26% of jobs in Arkansas can be performed from home, while less than two-thirds of Arkansas households own computers. Only 56% of Arkansas households have high-speed internet."
Raleigh, Fort Collins, Barnstable top their lists
The Raleigh-Cary area tops the list for the big metro areas, with 35.9% of its jobs doable from home, 84.6% of its households owning computers, and 78.6% of them with broadband internet.
Right behind Raleigh-Cary is the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta metro area, followed by the District of Columbia and its suburbs going all the way out to West Virginia.
The top three in the mid-size category are Fort Collins, Colorado; Huntsville, Alabama; and Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida. The small metro list is topped by Barnstable, Massachusetts; Wilmington, North Carolina; and Bend, Oregon.
The Millionacres bottom line
Savvy real estate investors have been watching the exodus from cities to places where a person can get more house for the money while working from home, since they don’t have to live where they work. Reports like this can help narrow the search.
It’s also interesting that these lists include a lot of smaller university towns, each with its own characteristics. For instance, Huntsville. That’s the home to the engineering-heavy University of Alabama at Huntsville and a community that’s home to both a large defense contractor and military presence, especially if you’re into missiles.
Wilmington, meanwhile, has UNC-Wilmington but is also a retiree haven nestled between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. And the highest composite score on all three lists belongs to Fort Collins, Colorado, home to Colorado State University and smack-dab in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.
Speaking of space, the researchers found that while 60% of households in the U.S. have a spare bedroom, closer to 70% or more of households in some of the small and midsize metros most prepared for WFH have spare bedrooms that could be used as home offices. (Investors should also be aware that there are some indications that WFH weariness could be setting in among some home workers.)
And what’s also interesting: Not one of the 35 cities ranked here is in California. There’s one in Oregon and two in Washington state. This is a ranking by WFH readiness, not housing prices, so that’s not a factor. Maybe there are not enough spare bedrooms in Silicon Valley? It would seem hard to fathom that broadband availability would be holding it back.