Top States for Business

These are America's 10 best states for remote work

Key Points
  • The pandemic showed companies and workers the benefits of working from home. Big companies like Facebook and Microsoft are allowing more of their employees to continue working remotely.
  • One study says that even as offices reopen, as much as 30% of the U.S. workforce will work from home multiple days per week by the end of 2021.
  • CNBC's exclusive America's Top States for Business study shows that some states are better than others for remote work.
Merlas | iStock | Getty Images

The pandemic has shown companies and employees alike that working from home has benefits. Many workers like the safety and freedom that remote work brings, not to mention the easy commute.

Companies can save on office space, and the pandemic showed that letting employees work remotely does not necessarily result in a loss of productivity.

No wonder some big employers have decided to let many employees continue the remote work experiment.

Companies that are expanding their remote work options include Amazon, which said in June that it would allow corporate employees work from home up to two days per week. Google said in May that it expects 20% of its employees will permanently work from home. Salesforce, declaring that "the 9-to-5 workday is dead," and the "past is gone" has said that a large segment of its workforce would be partly or fully remote from now on.

A study by research firm Global Workplace Analytics predicts that 25% to 30% of the U.S. workforce will be telecommuting multiple days per week by the end of this year.

For many workers, that means they will be able to live anywhere — not necessarily needing to be within commuting distance to an office. Some states fall far short of being destinations where newly remote workers should flock.

To determine America's Top States for Remote Work, we put the states through 15 metrics derived from the same data sources as our 2021 America's Top States for Business study.

We considered factors including broadband connectivity, electrical grid reliability, health and health care, sustainability in the face of climate change, environmental quality, inclusiveness, the housing market, cost of living, and the tax burden.

By the numbers, these ten states are the best bets for your new, work-at-home life.

10. Illinois

A person participates in a conference call while working from home in an arranged photograph taken in Princeton, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Illinois offers great connectivity and a solid power grid. Winters can be brutal, and summers can be hot, but the state does well for sustainability. Taxes are high though, and the housing market is not entirely healthy.

Broadband access: 89.3%

Home price appreciation: 7.68%

Effective tax rate: 11.1%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 15

9. Washington

Thomas Barwick | DigitalVision | Getty Images

You will be hard pressed to find a more inclusive state than Washington, which provides robust anti-discrimination laws, and this year expanded voting rights. However, the power grid can be clunky, and the cost of living is on the high side.

Broadband access: 94.6%

Home price appreciation: 13.7%

Effective tax rate: 9.8%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 9

7. (tie) – Tennessee

The Nashville skyline.
Malcolm MacGregor | Moment | Getty Images

Life is a bargain in Tennessee, which offers the lowest effective tax rate in the continental United States. But health in the state is poor, and in 2021 the legislature enacted extreme measures against LGBTQ+ rights.

Broadband access: 82.4%

Home price appreciation: 11.3%

Effective tax rate: 7%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 5

7. (tie) Iowa

Downtown Des Moines, Iowa with the Pioneers of the Territory statue in the foreground.
traveler1116 | iStock | Getty Images

Iowa's Heartland location helps insulate the state from the effects of climate change, giving it points for sustainability. The power grid is reliable, and costs are low. But broadband speeds are sluggish, and so is the housing market.

Broadband access: 81.3%

Home price appreciation: 8.17%

Effective tax rate: 10.8%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 20

6. Idaho

Tony Anderson | Photodisc | Getty Images

Idaho has the nation's hottest housing market, which can hurt affordability but will help your investment pay off faster. Costs are low and the grid is reliable, but the state's broadband systems need some attention.

Broadband access: 70.3%

Home price appreciation: 21.08%

Effective tax rate: 9.6%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 16

4. (tie) Kansas

hideko1979 | iStock | Getty Images

Kansas offers some of the lowest living costs of any state, and the environmental quality is sound. But the state does the bare minimum when it comes to protecting its workers against discrimination.

Broadband access: 82.1%

Home price appreciation: 10.76%

Effective tax rate: 10.1%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 28

4. (tie) Colorado

David Epperson | Photodisc | Getty Images

Colorado is healthy and welcoming, and its housing market is among the best in the nation. But costs are high, and the crisp mountain air can be a magnet for ozone pollution.

Broadband access: 85.9%

Home price appreciation: 10.67%

Effective tax rate: 9.4%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 8

3. Minnesota

Like He | iStock | Getty Images

Minnesotans are healthy, and state laws are as inclusive as they come. However, people pay dearly to live in Minnesota — the state imposes some of the heaviest tax burdens in the nation.

Broadband access: 89.6%

Home price appreciation: 9.38%

Effective tax rate: 12.1%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 7

2. Nebraska

High capacity electrical transmission lines in rural Nebraska, USA.
Ryan McGinnis | Moment | Getty Images

You will be able to keep your home office going uninterrupted with the most reliable electrical grid in the nation. However, broadband access is limited in Nebraska. The housing market is strong, and living costs are low.

Broadband access: 74.5%

Home price appreciation: 11.99%

Effective tax rate: 10.3%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 13

1. North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota
DenisTangneyJr | iStock Unreleased | Getty Images

Taxes are low, the air is clean, and broadband is plentiful. North Dakota also offers a pristine environment. The housing market has suffered from a lack of inventory, but you will still be able to get a lot of home — and home office — for your money.

Broadband access: 86.8%

Home price appreciation: 6.69%

Effective tax rate: 8.9%

2021 Top States for Business rank: No. 18