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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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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:
To rank which places in Texas are best for remote workers, we created six categories:
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:
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.
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