The Wall Street Journal recently examined what attracts remote workers to certain cities and found Evansville among the country’s most appealing spots.
The city ranked third in the Journal’s “Top 10 Places for Remote Workers,” published Monday. While most of the article focused on top-ranked Springfield, Missouri, a chart highlighted the other nine locales, including three Indiana cities: Evansville (third), Lafayette (fifth) and Fort Wayne (10th).
Here’s how the Wall Street Journal says it compiled the rankings:
“The Wall Street Journal created the ranking of great places to work from home by first asking the survey firm Ipsos to conduct a nationwide poll in August 2022, identifying 10 top factors that people said they cared most about in a remote-work location. The Journal then weighted those factors to come up with our list of cities and towns that fit those priorities.“
So what was attractive about Evansville? Here’s a breakdown:
Households with access to 100 mpbs Internet (and its cost)
Like all cities in the top 10, Evansville was listed as having 100 percent of its households able to access 100 mbps Internet. The number of places outside city limits in Vanderburgh County with high-speed Internet availability continue to grow, as well, as AT&T continues to install its fiber lines.
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The monthly price for high-speed broadband is $40 here, the Journal’s survey said. That put Evansville in the middle of the top 10, with Springfield, Missouri the cheapest ($32.80 per month) and Wichita, Kansas the most expensive ($49.90).
Homes (size and price)
The survey found Evansville’s median house listing price at $183,093 for the period between January and November 2022, and that the average house size was 1,739 square feet. The median listing price was the second-lowest in the top 10, with only Huntington, West Virginia, posting a lower figure ($148,177).
As for home size, Evansville was in the middle of the top 10.
Cost of living and unemployment rate
Evansville landed in the 71st percentile for “lower cost of living,” making it ninth in the top 10. Kansas City, Kansas, ranked atop the cost of living category, and St. Louis was the lowest ranked among the top 10.
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Evansville’s unemployment rate (2.87 percent) was fourth-lowest.
Quality of life categories
These were a mixed bag for Evansville. The city fared well in restaurants per household (81st percentile) and so-so in arts venues per household (60th percentile), but struggled in the categories that mesaured the proximity to an airport (34th percentile) and households located within half a mile of a park (8.8 percent).
Only Fort Wayne (6.4 percent) fared worse in the parks category.
Reaction from local economic officials
Tyler Stock, executive director for TalentEVV − an Evansville Regional Economic Partnership endeavor linking dozens of companies, schools and nonprofits in the push to attract and retain new workers to the city − said the Journal’s ranking was a pleasant surprise, but it makes sense, given the data.
“It’s nice to get media (exposure) at that level,” Stock said. “We’ve had a team here for the last decade working on a lot of these things, especially through the broadband (accessibility) piece.”
The timing is also nice, Stock said. In just the past few weeks, E-REP joined the MakeMyMove campaign through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
“One of their main strategies is to attract remote workers to the state of Indiana. We’ve already had 14 or 15 hits from applicants about moving to our region,” he said.
And while E-REP is still pursuing traditional economic development (attracting big businesses and larger-scale hiring prospects), there’s something to be said for the granular approach that has accelerated since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If you look at the data, 19 million Americans plan to pick up and move this year,” Stock said. “There’s data to suggest that incremental growth is the way to go.”
This article originally appeared on Evansville Courier & Press: Here’s how Evansville landed in Wall Street Journal’s ‘top places for remote workers’ list