(The Center Square) – Seattle recently ranked 5th to learn by LawnStarter of this year’s Best Cities for Telecommuters.
To determine their ranking, the Austin, Texas-based outdoor website compared the 200 largest cities in America based on several factors related to remote work, including internet quality, cost of living, access to coworking spaces, and government financial incentives for incoming remote workers.
LawnStarter data analyst Jason Medina, who made Seattle his home for a number of years, delved into the Emerald City’s fifth spot.
“Seattle’s greatest strengths in our rankings are in the earning potential, workspace, and connectivity categories,” he explained via email.
Several financial factors worked in Seattle’s favor, he noted.
“If you look at financial metrics, Seattle has the eighth-highest median income among the top 200 US cities, no state income tax, and relatively affordable internet, utilities, and rent (when adjusted for median income),” he said.
The city’s work environment also received high marks from LawnStarter.
“In terms of jobs, Seattle has the 11th highest number of coworking spaces per 100,000 people,” Medina noted. “Obviously not everyone is working remotely, so in reality that number is even larger. Each Seattle resident also has plenty of room to spread out — Seattle ranks 21st in household density.”
Being one of the best cities in the country in terms of internet access didn’t hurt.
“Obviously, remote work only comes with a strong Wi-Fi connection, and that’s where Seattle really shines,” Medina said. “Remote workers have access to 5G internet, excellent fiber coverage (#33), and a healthy choice of ISPs (#27) — barring restrictions imposed by their landlords when renting.”
Seattle’s high overall LawnStarter ranking reflects the city’s pioneering efforts in remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Also remember that Seattle was essentially the zero point of the great work-from-home experiment,” Medina said. “The Seattle metro area reported its first confirmed US COVID-19 case (and death) in early 2020, which naturally led the country to flexible working. By late February/early March, many companies and organizations in the Seattle area, including large tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon, had already instructed their employees to work from home.”
Center Square turned to the King County Assessor’s Office about the possibility of a large loss in property tax revenue if the subway offices go vacant.
“Many expect office vacancy rates to increase, and there’s a good chance that ceilings will also increase, resulting in slightly lower office values,” Assistant Associate Assessor Al Dems said in an email to The Center Square.
The capitalization interest rate – cap rate – is the return that is expected on an investment property.
“Real estate owners and developers are quite strategic and typically find a way to repurpose a property and maintain cash flow,” Dems said. “There will not be a large loss in tax revenue unless the fall in value is large enough to comply with tax restrictions.”
Seattle wasn’t the only Washington city to make LawnStarter’s list. Spokane in eastern Washington ranked 41st.