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FairfaxReal Estate‘Digital nomads’ find their groove in pandemic environment

‘Digital nomads’ find their groove in pandemic environment

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Even if most of those who have been working from home during the pandemic eventually head back into their offices, there will be some who from now on will be living the “digital-nomad” lifestyle.

Digital nomads are those able to move from location to location, staying connected to work and family electronically while experiencing new adventures in unfamiliar destinations. Whether looking for a new city or town to experience for one month or six, digital nomads may be exploring various locations in hopes of eventually making a permanent move.

And a new study by Zillow and Yelp has divined the communities where they might be headed. (Spoiler alert: The D.C. region is not among them.)


“Amenity-rich places with a lot of affordable rental units with shorter leasing terms are appealing to many people who no longer have to punch in at the office,” said Zillow economic data analyst Nicole Bachaud.

Nearly 11 million American workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads, an increase of 49 percent from 2019, according to independent talent provider MBO Partners’ 2020 State of Independence research study. In 2020, the number of traditional workers working as digital nomads grew 96 percent, from 3.2 million to 6.3 million, according to the study.

And where are they headed? Jacksonville, Fla., topped the list, which is based on a variety of criteria.

After Jacksonville (which benefited from low rents, amenable climate and being in a lockdown-hesistant state), the top five included Austin, Boise, Nashville and Charleston (S.C.).

“These destinations boast a mix of outdoor adventure and city perks that are appealing to the many young professionals who have transitioned to the nomadic lifestyle due to their new-found ability to work from anywhere,” said Yelp trend expert Tara Lewis.

While housing affordability was a hallmark of many communities on the list, it was not so in San Jose, Calif., which ranked sixth despite typical rental rates of more than $2,500 per month.

Finishing up the top 10: Fort Collins (Colo.); Asheville (N.C.); Las Vegas; and Salt Lake City.

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