A Better Lifestyle: Remote Workers in Nevada County Reflect a Rising Trend

Ever wonder how the tiny town of Nevada City can support no fewer than FOUR cafés where you can hang out as long as you like while you sip espresso? Part of it has to do with our mobile work force – people who live in Nevada County and work remotely for a company that is far from here, or may not even have an official headquarters office at all. Cafés are a great place to get work done when you tire of the isolation (or distraction) of your home office.

More People Working Remotely

A recent Gallup poll revealed the number of American employees who work remotely at least part of the time increased to 43% in 2016, up from 39% in 2012. FlexJobs released a report last year predicting that 50% of people will work remotely by 2020.

It’s no surprise that Nevada County is home to plenty of remote workers. Who wouldn’t want to have all the benefits of working for a large company in the Bay Area or Los Angeles, while living in a small, community-oriented town in the middle of the Sierra Foothills?

Dan Walmsley, enjoying a break from working remotely in his Nevada County home office, and enjoying a walk with his daughter.

Dan Walmsley, enjoying a break from working remotely in his Nevada County home office, and enjoying a walk with his daughter.

Working Remotely in Nevada County

Many people choose to work remotely in Nevada County to be close to family, without giving up tech wages. It doesn’t hurt that their money goes further in a rural community. Dan Walmsley is a great example. He works as a programmer for Automattic, a fully dispersed company (There is no office; all the employees work from home). He consciously chose a remote work position so he and his growing family could live close to his wife’s family in Grass Valley. Walmsley believes that remote work in areas like Nevada County benefits both the employees and the community. “If the U.S. was able to support a whole generation of remote work companies, it could revitalize small towns,” he said. “Remote work companies bring knowledge workers’ salaries to an area that is economically depressed, and employees can buy a much nicer house than you could afford in the Bay Area.”

Like Walmsley, Shawna Hein moved to Nevada County to be closer to family when she decided to start her own family. She transitioned her freelance user experience design business from the Bay Area to Nevada County, traveling to the Bay Area once a month to meet face to face with clients until she found a full-time job working for Ad Hoc, a fully dispersed company. She loves living in Nevada County. “Nevada County is a unique spot,” she said. “It’s  close enough to the Bay that you can go there if you need to, has really good food and interesting events, but it’s a small town, and it’s in nature.”

Working remotely from Nevada County lets Shawna Hein enjoy the outdoors with her son.

Working remotely from Nevada County lets Shawna Hein enjoy the outdoors with her son.

More Time for the Important Things

Remote workers have more time to enjoy where they live. Besides the lack of commute, many people who work remotely set their own hours. Ryan Cole and his wife moved to Nevada County from Los Angeles a year and half ago. Cole was working 50 hours a week plus commute time in Los Angeles traffic. Now he and his wife both work remotely as freelance sound editors, and they split their work days so that they can share child care duties. “I start work at 5am, and my wife starts work at 9am,” said Cole. “I can stay with my kids when they are sick and make up the work at night.”

They also have more time to contribute to their community. Cole and Hein have both passed on their expertise by teaching classes at the Connected Communities Academy, and Walmsley donated his time and talent to help build the Connect Communities website. Contributing in this way is not unusual in Nevada County. “People are here because they want to be here, not because they have to be here,” said Walmsley. “They invest in building community and bringing things they love to this town.  There is a community spirit and love of place that you don’t always see.”

How to Get a Remote Job

Contrary to what many people think, you don’t have to work at a large company for years before they trust you enough to work from home. But it does help to establish a reputation for yourself and make plenty of connections in your industry. Freelancing is a great way to transition into remote work. Or find a fully dispersed company, where everyone works from home. You’ll soon have a lot more virtual workplace options. According to the FlexJobs report, in 2014 only 26 companies were completely virtual, where all or most employees worked remotely. By 2016 that number had grown to 125 companies.

Is Remote Work for You?

Ready to take the plunge into remote work? Before you do, make sure you have the right personality for working in your pajamas. “Remote working isn’t for everyone,” said Walmsley. “If you need to be around other people and work with them in person to feel fulfilled and connected, don’t get a remote job. If you’re not that great at staying on task when you aren’t around other people, don’t get a remote job.” Hein offers more things to think about when considering remote work in this article.

The Green Screen Institute and Sierra Commons are two co-working spaces in Nevada County where remote workers can be among people. There are also all of those cafés. If you do decide that you want to work remotely, Nevada County is a pretty great place to be based.