The Best US Cities for Digital Nomads in 2023

Alex Kerai
Oct 19, 2023
Icon Time To Read7 min read

Work-from-home doesn’t have to mean actually sitting at home at a desk. As a digital nomad you can travel the country and the world, while still working remotely. Sounds like fun, right?

Using our highly-selective ranking system, we found the best US cities for digital nomads. So what are you waiting for? Pack a bag, bring a laptop, and let’s go explore.

United States map highlighting the ten best cities for digital nomads in 2023
Who are digital nomads?

Digital nomads have been around since the early 1980s, but only gained popularity recently.1 Back then, people used laptops, tablets, and PDAs to stay connected on the go, and the term even made it into a 1992 travelogue.2 Office culture meant that most workers couldn’t fully embrace the nomadic lifestyle, though.

Nearly thirty years later, the term has come to mean something new again. The COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to work-from-home and reduced the need for many working professionals to have a physical office. Laptop computers, Wi-Fi, and smartphones have made it possible to work from just about anywhere nowadays, and digital nomads are highly mobile and “location independent,” as described in Digital Nomads: In Search of Meaningful Work in the New Economy.3,4 Many digital nomads view it as a lifestyle and commit long-term, but they don’t travel as often as you might think. (They’re different in that regard from van lifers.)

In short, digital nomads have the freedom to travel and work from anywhere. With the increasing prevalence of remote work plus the ubiquity of mobile, wireless technology, anyone is able to become a digital nomad and move somewhere new.

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#10 San Francisco, CA

The Bay area has everything you could want as a digital nomad, including fast internet speed (#3 in the nation) and tons of state recreational areas to explore. You should be wary of the high monthly rent, but don't worry—when you're ready to bounce, there's an airport 11 miles away.

  • Average monthly rent in San Francisco is $4.53
  • San Francisco internet ranks #3 for fastest internet speed with an average speed of 124.2 Mbps 
  • The closest national park, Pinnacles National Park, is 108 miles away from the city
  • 11.1 miles from the nearest major airport
REV-City-10

#9 Las Vegas, NV

Vegas. Sin City. The Entertainment Capital of the World. You’ll be hard-pressed to get work done here, but with 65 free public Wi-Fi spots, you can roam the city and still be productive. And when you need some space to really roam, Death Valley is only 42 miles away.

  • Average monthly rent in Las Vegas per square foot is $1.67
  • Las Vegas internet ranks #9 for fastest internet speeds with an average speed of 124.2 Mbps
  • The closest national park, Death Valley National Park, is 42 miles away from the city
  • 6.6 miles from the nearest major airport
REV-City-09

#8 Chicago, IL

The Windy City is the coldest one in our top 10, but that doesn’t make it any less appealing. Indiana Dunes National Park is close by and Illinois has 140 state recreational areas to explore.

  • Average monthly rent in Chicago per square foot is $2.97
  • Chicago internet ranks #33 for fastest internet speed with an average speed of 104.1 Mbps
  • 143 free public wi-fi hotspots in the city
  • The closest national park, Indiana Dunes National Park, is 42 miles from the city
REV-City-08

#7 Dallas, TX

With 7.5 million people living in the metro area, it’s no surprise that Dallas has some of the fastest internet speeds in the US. Plus, the airport is one of the largest in the world, so you can fly anywhere to explore.

  • Average monthly rent in Dallas is $1.88 per square foot 
  • Dallas internet ranks #8 for fastest internet speeds with an average speed of 117.1 Mbps
  • 96 free public wi-fi hotspots in the city
  • The closest national park, Hot Springs National Park, is 253 miles away from the city
  • 5.1 miles from the nearest major airport
REV-City-07

#6 Houston, TX

Houston has the lowest average monthly rent per square foot, which makes it one of the most appealing options on our list. And while Hot Springs National Park is over 350 miles away, the Gulf of Mexico is only 50.

  • Average monthly rent in Houston is $1.59 per square foot
  • Houston internet ranks #10 for the fastest internet speeds with an average speed of 115.7 Mbps
  • 105 free public wi-fi hotspots in the city
  • The closest national park, Hot Springs National Park, is 355 miles away from the city
  • 9.6 miles from the nearest major airport
REV-City-06

#5 Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix is the warmest city on our list with an average annual temp of 76.3º—good thing there’s public Wi-Fi ’cause you’ll want to stay outside year round ! The largest US state capital has a lot to offer, from Saguaro National Park to low-cost rent.

  • Average monthly rent in Phoenix is $1.96 per square foot 
  • Phoenix internet ranks #42 for fastest internet speed with an average speed of 96.2 Mbps
  • 114 free public wi-fi hotspots in the city
  • The closest national park, Saguaro National Park, is 112 miles away from the city. 
  • 3.7 miles from the nearest major airport
REV-City-05

#4 Seattle, WA

Home to some of the largest companies in the world (Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft), Seattle is more than just a rainy seaport. And sure, the rent is expensive, but Mount Rainier National Park is close by (only 44 miles away from the city), so you can hike and explore all 236,000 acres to your heart’s content.

  • Average monthly rent in Seattle is $3.36 per square foot
  • Seattle internet ranks #21 for fastest internet speeds with an average speed of 111 Mbps
  • 164 free public wi-fi hotspots in the city
  • The closest national park, Mount Rainier National Park, is 44 miles away from the city
  • 10.9 miles from the nearest major airport
REV-City-04

#3 Austin, TX

With 123 state recreational areas and an airport nearby, Austin is a great place to explore! The city also has free public Wi-Fi hotspots and average internet speeds over 100 Mbps. Austin is the highest-ranked Texas city on the list, which is saying something since the state has three cities in the top ten.

  • Average monthly rent in Austin is $2.11 per square foot
  • Austin internet ranks #32 for fastest internet speeds with an average speed of 104.2 Mbps
  • 134 public wi-fi hotspots in the city
  • The closest national park, Big Bend National Park, is 344 miles away from the city
  • 6.7 miles from the nearest major airport
REV-City-03

#2 Portland, OR

Portland has a great vibe and culture, making it a wonderful city to explore. There are 234 state recreational areas and Mount Rainier National Park is only one state away. Although rent is expensive, the city has fast internet speed and over 150 Wi-Fi hotspots.

  • Average monthly rent in Portland is $2.34
  • Portland internet ranks #27 for fastest internet speeds with an average speed of 106.2 Mbps
  • 153 free public wi-fi hotspots in the city
  • The closest national park, Mount Rainier National Park, is 234 miles away from the city
  • 5.9 miles from the nearest airport
REV-City-02

#1 Atlanta, GA

With average monthly rent hovering around $2 per square foot, Atlanta is one of the most affordable cities on our list. It also has Wi-Fi averages over 100 Mbps and nearly 140 public hotspots. But what takes it over the top? A large share of remote jobs available, temperate weather, and over 115 state recs areas make Atlanta a great city for digital nomads.

  • Average monthly rent in Atlanta is $1.94 per square foot
  • Atlanta internet ranks #13 for fastest internet speeds with an average speed of 114.1 Mbps
  • 138 free public wi-fi hotspots in the city
  • The closest national park, Great Smoky Mountains National park, is 146 miles away from the city
  • 8.1 miles from the nearest airport
REV-City-01

What do digital nomads need to work remotely?

The two most important things digital nomads need are a remote job, a laptop, and a cell phone with data. From there, it’s up to you!

If you found the perfect place, don’t worry! There are five easy steps to fixing your Wi-Fi, and if that doesn’t solve it you can boost your Wi-Fi signal and run a speed test to check for problems. Of course, you may end up needing to switch providers, and we have a list of favorites to help with that.

Now if you’re going to go off-the-grid nomad, there are a couple other things we suggest … For starters, in rural areas water, snacks, and a working cell phone are a must. You’ll want to find mobile hotspots if you're traveling around, but satellite or DSL internet should work if you're staying in one place.

Finally, if you're on a budget, we have some tips. Laptops and phones with long-lasting battery life are key, as are public Wi-Fi hotspots (Seattle has the most).

Just like in the 1980s, you just need a remote-friendly job and mobile technology to make your dream of being a digital nomad become reality.

Best mobile hotspots for digital nomads

Provider
Best for
Our plan pick
Price
Data allotment
Learn more
Best value$25 Unlimited Plan
$25
/mo
Unlimited (5Mbps)
Best prepaid option$45 Unlimited Premium Plan
$45
/mo
50GB
Best budget planUnlimited Data Plan
$15
/mo
10GB
Best international planUnlimited Text, Talk, and Data Plan
$29
/mo
25GB

The best US metro areas for digital nomads

Rank
Metro
Mean speed test
Count of Wi-Fi Spots
% of remote jobs available out of all jobs
Average monthly rent cost per sq. ft.
Distance from airport (mi.)
Distance to closest national park (m.)
National park name
Avg. annual temp (F)
Number of state rec areas
1Atlanta, GA114.11383.26%$1.948.1146Great Smoky Mountains National Park64.5115
2Portland, OR106.21532.26%$2.345.993Mount Rainier National Park56.5234
3Austin, TX104.21343.80%$2.116.7344Big Bend National Park70.7123
4Seattle, WA1111642.72%$3.3610.944Mount Rainier National Park53.5289
5Phoenix, AZ96.21142.72%$1.963.7112Saguaro National Park76.383
6Houston, TX115.71051.85%$1.509.6355Hot Springs National Park73123
7Dallas, TX117.1962.47%$1.885.1253Hot Springs National Park68.1123
8Chicago, IL104.11433.39%$2.976.942Indiana Dunes National Park53.4140
9Las Vegas, NV116.2652.03%$1.676.6101Death Valley National Park71.552
10San Francisco, CA124.21195.08%$4.5311.1108Pinnacles National Park59.3294
11Washington, DC127.4853.77%$3.16384Shenandoah National Park57.63
12San Antonio, TX117.2611.82%$1.517.7280Big Bend National Park70.4123
13Nashville, TN115.4553.07%$2.066.679Mammoth Cave National Park61.887
14Denver, CO105.1992.51%$2.3718.676Rocky Mountain National Park6674
15Indianapolis, IN101.2702.56%$1.308.1139Great Smoky Mountains National Park54.879
16Philadelphia, PA126.1682.12%$2.396.9188Shenandoah National Park58.2173
17Jacksonville, FL111.2442.32%$1.5811.4251Congaree National Park69.9215
18Charlotte, NC110.8472.25%$1.775.796Congaree National Park62.684
19Louisville, KY95.6631.63%$1.265.781Mammoth Cave National Park6076
20Baltimore, MD119.7462.05%$1.878.5111Shenandoah National Park58.775
21Tucson, AZ91.9761.32%$1.657.476Saguaro National Park71.983
22Sacramento, CA111.7403.06%$2.259.4105Yosemite National Park62.4294
23San Jose, CA111.3633.37%$3.432.532Pinnacles National Park71294
24Raleigh, NC107.9611.92%$1.7011.1190Congaree National Park61.884
25Minneapolis, MN94.8672.61%$2.147.1236Voyageurs National Park49.4682
26Tulsa, OK88532.51%$1.106.6214Hot Springs National Park62.271
27Oklahoma City, OK102.3412.22%$1.137261Hot Springs National Park60.671
28Pittsburgh, PA114342.18%$1.8113105Cuyahoga Valley National Park53.2173
29Huntsville, AL114.2261.33%$1.2212.5169Mammoth Cave National Park62.163
30Baton Rouge, LA94252.72%$1.265.7297Hot Springs National Park78.967
31Miami, FL112.7232.39%$2.656.240Biscayne National Park78.3215
32St. Louis, MO91.5351.75%$1.3812.511Gateway Arch National Park59225
33Omaha, NE95.1651.88%$1.234359Gateway Arch National Park54.1102
34Virginia Beach, VA112.9241.52%$1.6412.7158Shenandoah National Park7083
35Los Angeles, CA110.8832.06%$3.5312.171Channel Islands National Park62.7294
36Milwaukee, WI94.2422.11%$1.596.496Indiana Dunes National Park51.2208
37Salt Lake City, UT95.9522.63%$2.044.9131Great Basin National Park56.294
38El Paso, TX99131.25%$1.257.247Guadalupe Mountains National Park67123
39Albuquerque, NM70.8661.82%$1.083.9162White Sands National Park5981
40Columbus, OH81462.26%$1.346.2111Cuyahoga Valley National Park55.1184
41Orlando, FL94.7432.08%$2.018.7207Biscayne National Park74.7215
42Cincinatti, OH94.1431.65%$1.459.9159Mammoth Cave National Park56184
43Columbia, SC79.4302.26%$1.336.525Congaree National Park64.770
44Harrisburg, PA99.9122.25%$1.388.5143Shenandoah National Park57173
45Madison, WI78.3642.78%$1.775.6163Indiana Dunes National Park48.8208
46Colorado Springs, CO106.1411.50%$1.846.890Great Sand Dunes National Park48.374
47Augusta, GA92161.31%$1.23773Congaree National Park65.8115
48Detroit, MI97.5232.21%$1.526133Congaree National Park52.6140
49Chattanooga, TN106.3150.86%$1.456112Great Smoky Mountains National Park63.387
50Riverside, CA111.8171.06%$2.5513.753Joshua Tree National Park80294
51Wichita, KS94.8211.84%$1.026319Voyageurs National Park58.9103
52Springfield, MA107.373.02%$1.8212.2261Acadia National Park60.6129
53Birmingham, AL84.5262.47%$1.324.1241Shenandoah National Park64.663
54Fresno, CA84.5151.76%$1.663.659Great Smoky Mountains National Park67.2294
55Provo-Orem, UT91.1152.64%$1.833.6121Great Basin National Park66.194
56Greenville, SC101.2131.26%$1.4710.493Indiana Dunes National Park61.670
57Palm Bay, FL87.551.96%$1.625.9186Biscayne National Park82.1215
58Spokane, WA85.4351.85%$1.545.6168North Cascades National Park50.6289
59Greensboro, NC89.3251.60%$1.348.3158New River Gorge National Park60.184
60Kansas City, KS100.681.78%$1.3713.5231Gateway Arch National Park64.3103
61Little Rock, AR59222.37%$1.113.941Hot Springs National Park72.885
62Cleveland, OH75.6451.68%$1.631022Cuyahoga Valley National Park53.3184
63Memphis, TN83.9291.05%$1.178.5184Hot Springs National Park63.887
64New Orleans, LA88.1351.89%$1.4911.3357Hot Springs National Park71.567
65Rochester, NY69.1392.24%$1.433.8245Cuyahoga Valley National Park58333
66Bakersfield, CA91.3301.11%$1.6873.875Sequoia National Park76.8294
67Lexington, KY76.6401.11%$1.297.7111Mammoth Cave National Park55.776
68Grand Rapids, MI83.4331.84%$1.629.3116Indiana Dunes National Park50.8140
69North Port, FL104.320.43%$1.8817.4166Everglades National Park83.1215
70Savannah, GA97.5120.58%$1.666.7119Cuyahoga Valley National Park68115
71Ogden-Clearfield, UT104.650.71%$1.542.7185Grand Teton National Park61.694
72South Bend, IN90161.00%$1.453.949Indiana Dunes National Park52.579
73Fayetteville, NC85.8110.77%$1.404.3142Congaree National Park72.584
74Reno, NV84.8281.89%$1.873.294Lassen Volcanic National Park56.152
75Albany, NY83262.66%$1.787307Acadia National Park51.4333
76Charleston, SC92.9181.24%$2.0210.669Congaree National Park66.570
77Buffalo, NY80.1251.68%$1.588.3189Cuyahoga Valley National Park52.1333
78Dayton, OH81.2190.65%$1.1410168Cuyahoga Valley National Park61.1184
79Lafayette, LA76.3161.18%$1.142.3319Hot Springs National Park78.867
80Cape Coral, FL87.280.84%$2.0212.2108Everglades National Park84.7215
81Des Moines, IA71.6232.84%$1.315.4278Gateway Arch National Park52.8143
82Syracuse, NY92.1161.61%$1.684.8301Cuyahoga Valley National Park52333
83Lancaster, PA86.490.98%$1.485.8153Shenandoah National Park62.7173
84Jackson, MO79.6711.10%$1.0412.1218Gateway Arch National Park67.6225
85Fort Wayne, IN68.9301.47%$1.1711.1102Indiana Dunes National Park52.579
86Lansing, MI67132.40%$1.253.6152Indiana Dunes National Park57.3140
87Knoxville, TN65.12371.41%$1.6211.144Great Smoky Mountains National Park60.387
88Hartford, CT90.6112.52%$1.7912.1286Acadia National Park52.7103
89Asheville, NC81.2220.67%$1.7111.448Great Smoky Mountains National Park57.584
90Mobile, AL79.9180.94%$1.1611.9373Hot Springs National Park67.363
91Toledo, OH58.2191.27%$1.0914.1105Cuyahoga Valley National Park53.8184
92Boston, MA120.9483.01%$4.802.8190Acadia National Park54129
93Allentown, PA84.5101.18%$1.834221Sequoia National Park54.6173
94New York City, NY123.61072.90%$6.398.7284Shenandoah National Park56.9333
95Boise, ID56.9392.70%$1.893.5274Grand Teton National Park55.274
96Charleston, WV32.782.53%$0.882.735New River Gorge National Park56.760
97Youngstown, OH69.510.59%$1.0343.359Cuyahoga Valley National Park58.3184
98Myrtle Beach, SC59160.77%$1.642.5125Acadia National Park73.170
99Urban Honolulu, HI78.4321.36%$3.444.2141Haleakalā National Park79.524
100Portland, ME60.8161.19%$2.392.9120Acadia National Park49.149

Methodology

To rank the best cities for digital nomads, we used the mean average metro area speed from HighSpeedInternet.com’s list of the top 100 US metros with the fastest internet speeds. We ranked each metro on seven different factors to find which ones would be the best for digital nomads.

To find the percentage of available remote jobs, we searched Indeed.com for each metro.

Each measurement was normalized on a 0-1 scale with 1 corresponding to the measurement that would most positively affect the final score and 0 corresponding to the measurement that would most negatively affect the final score. These adjusted measurements were then added together with the weights mentioned below to get a score of 100.

Each metro was ranked based on the factors below:

  • Average Download Speed Mean (20%) - a faster speed positively impacts the score
  • Number of Free WiFi hotspots (20%) - more available hotspots positively impacts the score
  • % of available remote-friendly jobs (10%) - higher percentage of remote-friendly jobs within a 25 mile radius positively impacts the score. Data pulled from Indeed.com on 01/18/2023.
  • Average monthly rent cost per square foot (30%) - lower monthly rent costs positively impacts the score
  • Miles from Nearest Airport (5%) - closer airports positively impacts the score
  • Miles from Nearest National Park (5%) - closer national parks positively impacts the score
  • Average Annual Temperature (5%) - higher annual temperatures positively impacts the score
  • Number of State Recreation Areas (5%) - more state recreation areas positively impacts the score

Sources

  1. Roberts, Steven K. “High-Tech Nomad,” Popular Computing, 1984, pg. 116-122.
  2. Malamud, Carl. Exploring the Internet: A Technical Travelogue. Prentice Hall, 1992, pg. 326
  3. Hannonen, Olga. “In search of a digital nomad: defining the phenomenon.” Information Technology & Tourism 22, no. 3 (September 2020): 335–353. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40558-020-00177-z
  4. Woldoff, Rachael A.; Litchfield, Robert C. Digital Nomads: In Search of Meaningful Work in the New Economy. Oxford University Press, 2021, pg. 4–6.
Alex Kerai
Written by
Alex Kerai
Alex began writing for student newspapers and has managed to turn that into a career. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he wrote about small businesses for Biz2Credit and Business.org. Before that, he spent time in communications for higher education institutions, created marketing materials for nonprofits, and worked for entertainment companies in Los Angeles. Today, he reports on emerging consumer trends and his work can be seen on The Penny Hoarder, Business.org, Move.org, WhistleOut.com, CableTV.com, SafeWise.com, HighSpeedInternet.com, and SatelliteInternet.com. When he's not writing, Alex watches too much TV, plays guitar, reads and writes fiction, and goes on nature walks.

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