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Updated on Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Working from home can provide an opportunity to spend more time with family and create a more desirable work style. For those in Texas, it’s also an opportunity to cut out a daily average of almost 27 minutes of commute time while cashing in on the state’s income-tax-free system. Regardless, one thing is clear: Remote working may become the norm as Americans continue to live through — and move past — the coronavirus pandemic.
To find out which areas in the Lone Star State are best for remote workers, MagnifyMoney researchers created and examined six weighted categories vital to this demographic, from home size and home cost to safety and climate change impact. Here’s what researchers found.
- Key findings
- Top 5 places for remote workers in Texas
- Tips for finding a work-life balance when working remotely
- Best places for remote workers in Texas: Full rankings
- Understanding the rankings
- Sienna in Fort Bend County tops the list of best places for remote workers in Texas, with a score of 80.2.
- Prosper in Collin County ranks second, with a score of 78.3. The rest of the top 5 is as follows:
- 3: Murphy in Collin County, with a score of 77.4
- 4: Cinco Ranch in Fort Bend County, with a score of 76.8
- 5: Highland Village in Denton County, with a score of 76.6
- 10 of the top 25 places for remote working in Texas are in Collin County, followed by:
- Five each in Fort Bend and Denton counties
- Three in Tarrant County
Top 5 places for remote workers in Texas
No. 1: Sienna
Sienna has the lowest median rent ($1,214) and lowest median owner-estimated home value ($330,200) among the top five locations. It also has the best home size score among the top five. That means that it may be easier to afford a house in the Texas community than in other areas — and you’re going to get more space for your dollar.
Finding the right doctor, primarily during a pandemic, is important. Across every ranked community in Texas, the average number of county residents per primary physician is nearly 2,180. In Fort Bend County — where Sienna and Cinco Ranch are located — that number is 1,180, so residents could expect faster, more dedicated care.
No. 2: Prosper
Prosper — north of Dallas — comes in second thanks to Collin County’s health and lifestyle score. Tied with Murphy (which is also in Collin County), Prosper has the lowest number of county residents per primary care physician at 1,060 — even better than in Sienna and Cinco Ranch. Prosper and Murphy also have the lowest average number of mentally unhealthy days among the top five at 3.2, compared with Highland Village’s 3.6.
While the town’s population is less than 20,000, it’s worth noting that it’s growing — and fast. In fact, the town estimated in 2019 that the population will nearly double over the next decade. That may eventually lead to increased internet accessibility, which could be helpful, as Prosper has the lowest percentage of residents with cable, fiber or DSL internet among the top five at 85%.
No. 3: Murphy
In addition to its health-related strengths thanks to the county, Murphy also boasts excellent housing options. For example, it has the highest percentage of detached, single-family homes out of the top five locations at 98.2%. That’s important for remote workers, as living in an apartment or other, attached housing situation can impede on working from home these days and make for an unpleasant environment if you have noisy neighbors.
On a similar note, Murphy also has a median owner-estimated home value of $337,900, making it the second-most affordable housing market among the top five. So those who are looking to move are more likely to take advantage of that high percentage of detached, single-family homes than in a more expensive market, potentially allowing them to put more money back in their savings accounts.
No. 4: Cinco Ranch
Moving west of Houston, Cinco Ranch is a planned community in Katy that garners the No. 4 spot on this list. It also has the second-highest home cost score among the top five, making it more attractive to those looking to save on those costs. Further, it has the second-lowest median rent price ($1,375) of the top five locations.
Another point in its favor is that Cinco Ranch surpasses No. 1 Sienna’s internet availability score, so those who work from home should be better equipped to do their work.
No. 5: Highland Village
Highland Village has the best internet availability of the top five — 92.9% of residents have access to cable, fiber or DSL — potentially making it more attractive to those who want a remote work lifestyle. The area also boasts the highest percentage of county residents with access to exercise opportunities (94%), which is especially important for those who may be moving around less due to a switch to a remote working environment.
According to the Denton County city’s government, 80% of the working population here are employed in managerial, professional or the technology industry. Because those areas may provide opportunities for remote work, it may also present an often rare opportunity for remote workers: The ability to interact with other remote workers (at least when it’s safe to do so). That’s important if you’re going to maintain a healthy mindset around remote work.
Tips for finding a work-life balance when working remotely
Transitioning to a remote work setup is always an adjustment. You don’t have the benefit of a commute to tell you when it’s time to unplug, and you might find it difficult to get yourself to work when you’re so close to the comfort of your couch or bed. It can be even more difficult when you add factors like roommates or a family to the mix.
Remote work isn’t for everyone, so the decision will require a serious examination of the various pros and cons. For those who decide it’s the right call, here are three tips to help you find work-life balance:
- Fake your commute: The line between work and life can easily blur when there isn’t the daily mental cue, like a commute, to make the switch. A fake commute could mean walking, running or biking during the same time or for the same mileage that your commute had taken.
- Block off time for rest: If your company uses a shared calendar system, blocking off time where you’ll be unreachable for meetings is essential. That way, you’ll get a reliable, healthy break. For example, PwC, which has locations throughout Texas, has a no-video rule for Fridays to help cut down on video meetings.
- Take advantage of mental health resources: The stress of the pandemic has made it hard for a lot of people to work, and many companies are recognizing that. Hilti, which has its U.S. headquarters in Plano, for instance, has made mental wellness days available to employees. Not everyone is lucky enough to get that though, so looking to your community resources may also be useful here.
Best places for remote workers in Texas: Full rankings
Understanding the rankings
To rank which places in Texas are best for remote workers, we created six categories:
- Internet availability
- Home size
- Home cost
- Health and lifestyle
- Climate change impact
Each data point among the categories was individually scored on a rank of 1 to 100, with one representing the worst and 100 representing the best. These scores were then averaged to create the category score. Lastly, the category scores were combined (using the weights described below) to create the overall score. All scores were rounded to the tenth.
The categories and their components are:
Internet availability score (20% weight)
- The percentage of people who have either cable, fiber or DSL. This shows whether these high-speed and more reliable internet services are widely available.
Home size score (20%)
- The percentage of single-family, detached homes. The outdoor opportunities these homes can provide are more important as people seek to socially distance in comfort.
- The median number of rooms within homes.
Home cost score (20%)
- The median home value (owner estimate). This is how much owners (in 2018) thought their homes would sell for if they were for sale.
- The median rent.
Health and lifestyle (20%)
- The highest-ranked hospital in the county. The federal government rates hospitals across a variety of outcome metrics. In counties with multiple hospitals, we took the score of the highest-ranked hospital (on a scale of one through five).
- The number of people per primary care physician in the county.
- The average number of mentally unhealthy days in the county. This is the average number of days that residents reported being mentally unwell in a given month.
- The percentage of county residents who have limited access to healthy foods.
- The percentage of county residents who have access to exercise opportunities.
Safety score (10%)
- The number of motor vehicle crash deaths per 100,000 people in the county.
- The number of violent crime incidents per 100,000 people in the county.
- The average daily density of fine particulate matter in the county’s air (micrograms per cubic meter). Breathable air has never been more important amid a pandemic.
Climate change impact score (10%)
- Predicted climate change impact on the county (from 2040 to 2060). This is the sum of impact scores across six categories, each with a worst possible score of 10 for a total worst possible score of 60. These categories are:
- Wet bulb, or extreme humidity that makes activity excessively dangerous relative to actual temperature
- Farm crop yields
- Sea level rise
- Very large fires
- Economic damages
MagnifyMoney researchers considered ranking other categories, too, such as the local businesses available for shopping, dining and recreation, as well as school quality features. However, we were concerned that past performance in these areas can’t be taken as a predictor of future performance. Local businesses have shuttered in many parts of the U.S. and schools have struggled with teacher retirements and online learning challenges amid the pandemic.
MagnifyMoney analysts ranked every municipality and Census-designated place in Texas with a population of at least 5,000 people and for which all data was available.
- S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey five-year estimates
- 2020 County Health Rankings