As the remote work movement proves that it's here to stay, Americans continue to opt-out of big city living in search of quieter, more affordable lives in unique Zoom towns across the country.
Zoom towns are communities experiencing consequential population increases because remote workers and digital nomads are moving in.
With more than 4.7 million people working remotely in the U.S. — Zoom towns are turning into boomtowns. With an influx of new residents, these towns — many best known as vacation destinations — are turning into year-round hometowns.
Take a look at these 10 unique Zoom towns you may want to move to if you're a remote worker.
1. Bellingham, WA
A gorgeous coastal city near the Canadian border, Bellingham is near Mount Baker, a snow-capped volcano, and about 90 minutes north of Seattle. This picturesque college town is quickly becoming a favorite for remote workers looking to say goodbye to the expensive city living in Seattle. This laid-back Zoom town is a haven for those seeking a slower pace of life while still having the perks of city living at their fingertips.
Bellingham's local economy consistently shows strong job and income prospects. With an affordability factor unparalleled to other cities of its size, Bellingham has naturally attracted remote workers, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cooler, Dockside Coworking, Localgroup Studio and State & Laurel Cowork are all co-working spaces in Bellingham certain to bring the wow factor to your laptop life.
Weekends in Bellingham are usually spent exploring Whatcom Falls Park, strolling the streets of the Fairhaven District, watching indie flicks at the Pickford Film Center and shopping at the Saturday Bellingham Farmers Market. Make sure to treat yourself to a slice of pizza or two from McKay's Taphouse and a five-star dessert from a beloved local favorite, Pure Bliss.
A perk to this unique Zoom town is that Bellingham always has something going on, whether it's a street fair, the Bellingham Music Festival, a new brewery opening up (there are currently 14 breweries within Bellingham city limits) or a literary reading at Western Washington University. This is a Zoom town where you truly can live for the weekends!
2. Boise, ID
Idaho is the second-fastest-growing state in the nation, so it's no surprise that Boise is booming as a Zoom town. This capital city has so much to offer its residents. With its endless outdoor activities, burgeoning food and craft beer scene, thriving local businesses and vibrant nightlife, Boise is a unique Zoom town perfect for singles, young professionals and young families.
Home to several major company headquarters and a long list of corporations and small businesses, Boise's local economy only keeps growing. Boise attracts a lot of companies within the technology investment and high-tech industries, as well as many dot coms and tech companies like Hewlett Packard and Microsoft. If you're looking to connect with other remote workers and local entrepreneurs, there are co-working spaces aplenty in Boise like Wheelhouse Boise and Trailhead.
Boise is a perfect city to experience all four seasons in. Explore the 25-mile Boise River Greenbelt by foot or bike in the spring, float or kayak down the Boise River in the summer, hike the Dry Creek Trail during fall while leaf-peeping and hit the slopes at Bogus Basin, a recreation and ski resort just 16.5 miles north of Boise, in the winter.
When you're not outside, explore the craft beer scene at one of the many breweries like White Dog Brewing, Payette Brewing and Boise Brewing. Or, check out the Boise Art Museum, World Center for Birds of Prey or the Freak Alley Gallery, the largest outdoor art gallery in the northwestern United States. Need more entertainment in Boise? Head to Zoo Boise, the Aquarium of Boise or one of the 150 booths at the Capital City Public Market.
Thanks to an abundance of outdoor activities and a consistently low unemployment rate, Boise is a great option for those looking to work and play hard. On the cusp of also becoming a must-visit travel destination in the Northwest, Boise's opportunities know no bounds.
3. Burlington, VT
Located in northwestern Vermont, Burlington is a small yet vibrant city situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. This unique Zoom town is best known for its youthful, lively and ultra-liberal community, which makes sense — Burlington is a college town (the University of Vermont is here), after all. With a median age of just 26 (the youngest on our list), residents here welcome remote workers and digital nomads with open arms.
For a small city, Burlington is well known for world-renowned brands like the Vermont Teddy Bear Company and Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Today, its local economy centers around the University of Vermont's health and education systems.
However, the remote work movement is huge here. Creative freelancers, artists, tech startups and socially-conscious entrepreneurs have dreamy co-working spaces located all over Burlington — Hula sits lakeside on Lake Champlain, BTVWorks is downtown and 12-22 North is in Burlington's Old North End.
In Burlington, plan to eat and drink well, spend time in nature and prioritize entertainment and the arts. Spend a Saturday like a local — head to Mirabelle's for coffee and brunch, explore the Centennial Woods, home to 65 acres of trees, fields, streams and wetlands, and then meet up with friends for a night on the town at The Archives — a vintage arcade hall with fancy libations or a live show at ArtsRiot.
When the temperature drops, go to Mount Mansfield (about 55 minutes away) to ski or snowboard. Not into winter sports? Put your snowshoes on for a box of CBD-infused chocolates from Monarch and the Milkweed and go shopping along Main Street.
The Vermont Agency of Commerce launched a relocation program earlier this year to attract more remote workers (offering reimbursement grants up to $7,500 for “eligible expenses"), so there has never been a better time to move to this premier hub for remote work.
4. Carmel, IN
Constantly voted one of the best cities in Indiana, Carmel is a unique Zoom town — especially for families. With a highly rated school system and one of the lowest violent crime rates in all of the U.S., Carmel is a suburban daydream (and it's only 30 minutes from Indianapolis).
Located within the Meridian Corridor, a concentration of more than 40 corporations, Carmel is also home to national headquarters for Allegion, CNO Financial Group and Delta Faucet. Remote workers here love the proximity to major corporations, its thriving local economy and its numerous coworking spaces like Platform24.
When exploring Carmel, keep one thing in mind — this Zoom town is known as the “Roundabout Capital of the U.S. " because it has more roundabouts than any other city in the nation. Besides loving roundabouts, the locals in this Indiana town love supporting family-friendly restaurants like Woody's, a community staple since 1998, Bubs Burgers and Ice Cream and Matt the Miller's Tavern.
Other popular family activities in Carmel include weekend afternoon bike rides on the Monon Trail, a paved path on a former rail line, visiting the Museum of Miniature Houses, enjoying Coxhall Gardens or Founders Park and window shopping in the Carmel Arts and Design District.
Ranked by many outlets including CNN Money as one of the best places to live in America, it's no surprise that Carmel attracts family-focused remote workers.
5. Cary, NC
Cary is one of the fastest-growing cities in the South, so it's no surprise that this town saw a boom in population growth once the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Located just 12 miles from Raleigh and 25 miles from Chapel Hill, Cary is a suburban melting pot of families, young professionals and retirees.
In Cary, the top employers are Epic Games, MetLife, SAS Institute and Verizon. However, many major companies like Apple, Cisco, Google and IBM continue opening offices in Raleigh. So, nearby cities like Cary reap the benefits. For solopreneurs and remote workers, there are resources aplenty in Cary like the co-working spaces Gather Studios, the Cary Innovation Center and the Cary Co-Founders Lab. Also, with 98 percent of residents having access to the internet, Cary rightfully earns its nickname as North Carolina's Technology Town.
Tree-lined streets, great schools and a strong sense of local community spirit help make Cary a picturesque Southern city to call home. Whether it's a concert at the Koka Booth Amphitheater, booth hopping at the annual Lazy Day Arts & Craft Festival, an afternoon picnic at one of Cary's 31 parks, a flight of beers with friends at Cotton House Craft Brewers or a night on the town at SideBar, there's something for everyone in Cary.
Steeped in history, this North Carolina city knows how to look towards its future while not forgetting its past. Inviting and modern, Cary has unwavering Southern hospitality around every corner.
6. Centennial, CO
Just south of Denver, Centennial is an oasis for families and those looking to start them. Although Centennial is one of Colorado's newest cities (established in 2001), it's quickly becoming one of the largest cities in the Centennial State.
Companies like Arrow Electronics, Comcast, United Healthcare and United Launch Alliance are some of the top employers in this Denver suburb. Additionally, Centennial's proximity to the Denver Tech Center is a bonus for its job market and local economy. For remote workers wanting to seek refuge outside of their home or digital nomads on the go, Centennial has many co-working spaces to check out like The Village Workspace and Thrive Workplace.
On the weekend, this tight-knit community comes alive thanks to a plethora of family-friendly activities, family-run businesses and tons of outdoor recreational spots. Want to experience this Zoom town like a local? Pick up breakfast burritos and coffee from the 303 Coffee Co, and then head to Centennial's Center Park. This award-winning 11-acre park features a massive playground and splash pad, bicycle paths, barbeque grills, paved and unpaved walking trails and event spaces.
With over 300 days of sunshine per year, quick access to downtown Denver and tons of premiere shopping, it's no wonder this unique Zoom town has a glittering reputation with those looking to live the good life.
7. Fremont, CA
Tucked away in the San Francisco Bay Area is one of California's most unique Zoom towns, Fremont. More affordable and quieter than some of its neighboring cities like Palo Alto and Mountain View, Fremont attracts young professionals, families and retirees alike with its urban-suburban vibe. Remote work thrives in Fremont — as do its countless restaurants and coffee shops, parks and local businesses.
Being so close to Silicon Valley, Fremont is a hub for technology-focused businesses and jobs. In fact, Tesla alone employs nearly 13,000 people in Fremont. Companies like Lam Research, Tailored Brands and Corsair Gaming are headquartered in Fremont, too. As remote work became the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fremont saw an increase in remote workers choosing to relocate here. Solopreneurs and remote workers looking to leave their home office have multiple coworking spaces to pick from like the Crossover Hub and Second Workspace, to name a few.
Fremont's gorgeous climate makes this Zoom town fun to explore at night and on the weekends. Spend a Saturday morning exploring the Alameda Creek Regional Trail, a 12-mile trail from Fremont's Niles District to the San Francisco Bay, and then treat yourself with an iced coffee from local favorite, Devout Coffee.
Take a trip back in time at the Old Mission San Jose (built in 1797) or visit the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and Theatre. For a laid-back night out in this unique Zoom town, head to the Mission Peak Regional Preserve to watch the sunset and then enjoy live music, food and adult beverages at the Mojo Lounge.
All in all, this city comes with no pretense — making it a dream Zoom town for remote workers and families seeking a laid-back town to put roots down in.
8. Kingston, NY
Photo source: Kingston Visitors Guide
In the heart of New York's Hudson Valley is Kingston. This unique Zoom town is beloved for its vibrant creative people, accessible outdoor recreations and food scene. Plus, the proximity to nearby cities like Albany (59 miles), New York (91 miles) and Boston (206 miles) helps.
When IBM closed its campus back in the early '90s, the town of Kingston experienced a major economic downturn. However, because of an increase in remote working opportunities and preservation in its art scene, the city has revitalized itself as a thriving community and not just a great weekend getaway. Those living the laptop life in Kingston will have their pick of spaces to work from like the co-working spaces Barnfox Kingston or CoWork Kingston and coffee shops like Village Coffee and Goods or Rough Draft Bar & Books.
Although Kingston is one of the smallest cities on our list, there's a lot to do in New York's former state capital. Hit up galleries like the Pink Water Gallery and ARTBAR Gallery and check out studios like Black Creek Mercantile and Lite Brite Neon.
Explore the animal exhibits, gardens and ponds at Forsyth Park, the recently built Kingston Midtown Linear Park or the Rondout Lighthouse and the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Looking for a night on the town? Head to Brunette for a glass or two of natural wine and then hit up Lola's mouthwatering pizza.
Charming (especially in the fall) and progressive, Kingston is a perfect Zoom town for creatives looking to leave the big city living behind without losing a robust arts scene.
9. Olathe, KS
Only 19 miles southwest of downtown Kansas City, MO, is Olathe, one of the most popular and unique Zoom towns in Kansas and the Midwest. This Zoom town is located in Johnson County, one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. However, despite its rich reputation, Olathe is known for its affordability — especially for families.
Many companies have offices in Olathe like ALDI, Garmin, Grundfos, Farmers Insurance Group and Honeywell. In fact, Olathe has more Farmers Insurance employees than any other city in the United States. A beacon for entrepreneurs and small business owners, Olathe has a very active Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, the City of Olathe, Kansas State University – Olathe and Digital Sandbox KC work together to provide proof-of-concept funding and co-working space for early-stage entrepreneurs here.
Want to experience Olathe like a local? Head to Sweet Tee's for a life-changing cup of coffee, shop 'til you drop at any one of Olathe's premier shopping centers, walk through one of the 40-something parks in the city or take the family dog to Heritage Park's 30-acre off-leash area and then go on the hunt for Fire Canyon Barbeque's food truck. Up for more? Bask in the impressive art collection at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art or spend the day wine tasting at the Stone Pillar Vineyard.
While Olathe is often overshadowed by cities like Kansas City and Lawrence, Olathe consistently lands on the best places to live in America lists. With over 230 days of sunshine each year and a plethora of family-friendly activities, this Kansas town is perfect for remote workers looking to plant roots and raise a family.
10. Roanoke, VA
- Average 1-BR rent: $817
- Median home sale price: N/A
- Population: 100,011
Tucked in the southwest corner in the U.S. commonwealth of Virginia is Roanoke, a unique Zoom town so dazzling and community-minded that it's known as the “Star City of the South." Sandwiched between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Virginia Alleghany Highlands, this cultural hub has a vibrant downtown and tons of world-class outdoor recreation. Plus, Roanoke is very cheap and affordable in this picturesque city.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the number of people telecommuting skyrocketed, Roanoke had its sights set on becoming a Zoom town. While this former railroad town has low unemployment rates and opportunities in the healthcare, education and manufacturing industries — remote work has consistently boomed in Roanoke since 2018. Also, laptop workers will have their pick of co-working spaces like CoLab and FACTORY, plus awesome coffee shops like Mill Mountain Coffee and the woman-owned and family-operated Little Green Hive to work out of.
In Roanoke, the mountains are always calling. Weekends here consist of climbing Tinker Mountain, kayaking Smith Mountain Lake and exploring the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. Looking for arts and culture in Roanoke? Check out the impressive art collection at the Taubman Museum of Art or plan a night seeing a show at Opera Roanoke.
Experience Roanoke like a local and head to downtown Roanoke's farmers market, a city staple here since 1882, to check out the produce, flowers, fresh meats and artisanal hand-crafted items. Hungry? Stop by Hollywood's for a cup of its must-have white chicken chili and Pop's in the Grandin area for a basket of smile fries and an ice cream soda float.
Recently named one of LinkedIn's Top 20 Remote-Work Havens, Roanoke is a perfect Zoom town for remote workers seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of big cities.
Zoom into the future
With 58 percent of the total U.S. workforce working from home, it's safe to say the popularity of Zoom towns won't go away anytime soon. Fastly growing since the start of the pandemic, these small communities and their big-city amenities are perfect spots for remote workers and digital nomads to put down roots and master work-life balance.