Housing & Mortgage
WFH Nirvana? Five Small Towns with Very Fast Internet
Highly educated, low on crime and close to a major airport
Aiming to take your big city salary to a laid back locale where you can work from home and live a calmer life? One consideration too often left until late in the search: internet speed.
Zoom meetings and Skype calls can be a nightmare in the land of lethargic internet, and your slow connection could be an incentive for an impatient boss to yank you back to the home office.
So, we’ve taken a look at where you can find blazing internet speeds in small-town America. And by “small-town,” we mean small. The populations of the five towns below range from 410 to 15,425.
Our Internet speed data comes from BroadbandNow.com, which measured speeds as of April 2020. The individual numbers are skewed high because BroadbandNow reported the 90th percentile in a city, seeking to approximate what you might attain if you sign up with the fastest network and have a first-rate home network setup. So, the numbers ought to be for comparison’s sake. And they’re not directly comparable, say, to the 43.8 megabits per second quoted by SatelliteInternet.com as the national average, or the rural average of 39.01 Mbps.
The other criteria (there’s more to life than being online):
Cost of living roughly on par with or below the national average
Big-city proximity for access to cultural amenities as well as a major airport
Highly educated populations; the percentage of four-year college graduates exceeds the U.S. average of 22.7%
Violent-crime rate below the national average of 22.7 per 1,000 people
Climate and livability ratings that are average to exceptional
Let’s start with:
Berkley, Michigan (suburb of Detroit)
Internet speed: 524.8 Mbps
Airport connections: 481 daily flights from Detroit.
Cost of living: 101.6
Median home price: $221,300
Violent crime: 12.2
Four-year degrees: 48.4%
Berkley is the largest town in our group. It’s also the closest to a city, just 20 minutes from Detroit. As such, Berkley is much closer to being a city than are the rest of the destinations.
Though the cost of living is a hair above the national average, Berkley is widely regarded as one of the best places to live in all of Michigan. Back in 2015, Money magazine described Berkley as having “the feel of small-town life with an adorably walkable downtown.” The local high school ranks as one of the top 1,000 in America, according to Newsweek.
Internet speed: 2,257.7 Mbps
Airport connections: 185 daily flights from Raleigh-Durham International (a 90-minute drive)
Cost of living: 85.5
Median home price: $166,200
Violent crime: 9.5
4-year degrees: 47.1%
With just 410 people, Boydton is at the opposite end of the spectrum. But the internet speed is crazy fast.
Niche.com ranks Boydton as one of the best places to live in Virginia. Boydton still has its Southern charm, and is an outdoorsy place surrounded by forests and near the many fingers jutting off the Roanoke River. Here, you’re nearly equidistant from both Raleigh, North Carolina, to the south, and Richmond, Virginia, to the north.
Internet speed: 524.7 Mbps
Airport connections: 464 daily flights from Boston (2.5 hour drive).
Cost of living: 103.5
Median home price: $260,400
Violent crime: 8.4
Four-year degrees: 34.5%
This is quintessential New England living — what some have labeled “the prettiest Vermont town you’ve probably never visited.” Niche.com ranks it as one of the best places to live in the state.
The small town, founded 15 years before America was a country, is also about three hours from Montreal. Manchester, New Hampshire, a smaller metro, is about 90 minutes to the southeast. Strafford’s cost of living is a smidge higher than the national average, but for that you get a lovely little wooded hamlet in the rolling hills of central Vermont.
Internet speed: 698.4 Mbps
Airport connections: 71 daily flights from Oklahoma City (30-minute drive).
Cost of living: 102.6
Median home price: $225,300
Violent crime: 8.4
Four-year degrees: 45.7%
Welcome to the prairie. Piedmont is cattle and farm country northwest of Oklahoma City, “among the richest places in Oklahoma, with the highest median household income at $97,733 per year,” according to HomeSnacks.com, which ranks communities on dozens of factors.
Internet speed: 518.1 Mbps
Airport connections: 45 daily flights from Portland (30-minute drive).
Cost of living: 94.2
Median home price: $207,800
Violent crime: 6.5
Four-year degrees: 38.8%
If you’re looking for coastal living, Bowdoinham might fit the bill. This tiny hamlet sits alongside the Cathance River and Merrymeeting Bay, just a few miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean.
Surrounded by hardwood forests, the town has tons of on-the-water opportunities. Several buildings here date to the 1700s and 1800s, reflecting Bowdoinham’s founding as a permanent settlement in 1730. It’s the kind of town where you shop at the general store or the local farmers market, though when you desire a bigger selection, Brunswick and Portland are a short drive to the south.