The magazine based 50% of its score on affordability – 30% on the median home value index and 20% on the minimum price for broadband internet service – and 50% on livability – 10% on median home size, 10% on local work-from-home communities, 10% on an attractive setting and 20% on local attractions and professional areas of expertise.
Taking all of these factors into mind, PCMag ranked Chattanooga, Tennessee, as the best U.S. city for remote workers this year. The city also ranked No. 1 on Zillow's 2019 list of "Best Metros for Remote Workers." The magazine noted that Chattanooga has been dubbed "Gig City" for its reliable citywide broadband network and growing tech community.
Sukriti Chadha, a Chattanooga resident who moved to the town from New York City in the spring of 2020 at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, told FOX Business that she wanted "access to more space" and "easier social distancing."
"Factors I considered were the ability to work remotely in the same time zone as NYC, nature (for hikes), an airport (I am a private pilot) and good food," Chadha said. "I have also found a great community here and discovered the entrepreneurial spirit of Chattanooga, which has been the cherry on top."
She added that working remotely in Gig City has been "seamless so far."
"Chattanooga is in a great position to attract young talent because of a booming VC and tech ecosystem, startup incubators, great food, and even better outdoors to explore," Chadha said, naming companies like Bellhop and Echelon, as well as "supply chain startups" that "are paving the way for even more innovation and opportunity in the area."
"This combination of opportunity, community and nature is pretty rare and sets Chattanooga apart from other midsized cities," she said.
More than half the country has access to "gigabit broadband," or the next generation of fast internet service – up from about 4% in 2016, but fewer Americans have access to affordable service, according to broadband research website Broadband Now.
The top 20 U.S. cities that made PCMag's list, including Chattanooga, offered gigabit broadband service for less than $60 and median home prices under $420,000, among other attractions, including the most coffee shops and parks per 100,000 and percentage of non-chain restaurants in their respective areas.
Cities that followed Chattanooga include Bear Valley Springs, California; Pawlet, Vermont; Kaysville, Utah; Jonesborough, Tennessee; Petoskey, Michigan; Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania; Bemidji, Minnesota; Springfield, Vermont; Eastpoint, Michigan; Philadelphia; Lenexa, Kansas; Miami Lakes, Florida; Fort Collins, Colorado; Saint Paul, Texas; Niles, Michigan; Taos, New Mexico; Reedsburg, Wisconsin; Princeton, Missouri; Daytona Beach, Florida; and The Woodlands, Texas.
PCMag listed 60 cities across the U.S. and Canada in total.
A December Pew Research Center survey of more than 10,300 panelists found that 54% of Americans would consider working from home after the COVID-19 pandemic ends if given the opportunity, and 20% were already working from home in some capacity.
Large tech companies like Facebook, Shopify, Oracle, Salesforce and others are reinventing the future of the American workforce with plans to allow more employees to work from home for a few days per week or full-time.
The shift toward more work-from-home opportunities will likely open opportunities for workers to move outside of big metropolitan areas while keeping their Silicon Valley and New York City jobs.