The city of Austin, Texas, has just been crowned the number one location for digital nomads.
By who, you ask? Carphone Warehouse. Somehow, a smartphone store is now an authority on living as a global citizen.
In a study from the people that usually sell you 24-month phone contracts, it puts Austin on the top spot by combining a number of factors, including employment rate, monthly salary, number of co-working spaces healthcare, and leisure activities, to name a few.
So how has Austin, which is indeed a fine city and fun place to be, come out on top when it languishes in 23rd place on NomadList – the website that most people trust when it comes to ranking which cities are best for us nomadic types?
Simply put, Carphone Warehouse measured the wrong things, and clearly don’t understand how the hell we do things in nomadland.
Employment rate percentage?
Who cares about employment rates when the majority of nomads are freelancers? And if they aren’t, local employment rates are probably moot. Nomads want to work for companies that don’t care where you are, as long as you get results. If you’re one of the new breed of nomads that are being attracted to the global citizen life because your employer has allowed you to work remotely, you don’t care about jobs in Austin.
You can use this rationale on Carphone Warehouse’s “monthly salary” data too. Although research on this is a little scant, reports have shown that 40 percent of nomads earn over $50,000 a year, and one in five make more than $100,000. Why do we care about Austin’s average salary when you’re working as a freelancer?
We all use co-working spaces, right?
Sure. Some of the time I’ll work from a co-working space. But often I’ll work from a cafe. Or a pool. Or a friend’s house. Or a beach (be careful about getting sand in your laptop – it sucks).
So, really, how important is it to count the number of co-working spaces and use that as any measure of whether a city is suitable for nomads? It’s not. Move on.
The same goes for the report’s “commute dissatisfaction index.” Where the fuck am I commuting to? I work for myself, where I like, when I like. FFS.
It’s not all horseshit
Measuring internet speeds is a good idea. I like that. A healthcare index is important too – I need to know that if I get sick, I’ll have good options available to get me back to full health. That being said, I have no idea how any US city scores high on that front. Have you seen the bills people have to pay because it’s the only highly developed country without free healthcare?
Monthly rent is also a big deal for those nomads that want to spend a little while in each location, and local Airbnb and hotel prices are usually linked to rent and mortgage values, so it’s a helpful indicator.
The leisure activities score is also a bonus, but honestly, I just want to dig into that data and get some juicy info on where the fun is at in each of these cities. Thankfully, the smartphone retail company does, at least, give its methodology for the study, and the sources are listed, so you can drill down if you feel the need.
I see you, Carphone Warehouse
Let’s be honest. Carphone Warehouse has no business ranking cities for nomads, remote workers, and freelancers. But it’s nice content, well presented, and I’m sure it is a nice traffic generator for them.
Hell, even I’m complicit. Writing this article is helping them to get what they want.
But if you really want a sense of which city to head to next, either do your own research based on the factors that are important to you (IDK, maybe you do want to work locally), or use something a little more reliable like NomadList.