Pexels Anthony Shkraba 5244072

If 'unprecedented' was the word of 2020, WFH was the acronym. 

As millions of people rolled out of bed and onto a Zoom call, the future of the office is in question. 

With tech giants, Google and Twitter declaring remote working for the foreseeable, could emerging businesses skip office expenses entirely? 

For a lot of business owners, coronavirus normalised remote working and flexible shift patterns. And while WFH may not be for everyone, it can be beneficial for certain types of people – especially budding entrepreneurs looking to kick start their business. 

Home confinement has left a lot of us searching for ways to kill time. And for some people, that's meant picking up new hobbies or rekindling old ones. The more industrious of those groups have decided that now could be the perfect opportunity to monetise their crochet skills – or penchant for DIY pottery. 

So if you've decided your banana bread is the bee's knees, or your hand-poured soy candles deserve to be enjoyed by people other than your grandma – find out which location is the best for remote business startups with our index. 

The best cities for remote working – the Dojo index 

We've crunched the data on some important factors to consider when starting a business: population size, the startup survival rate, and the average salary for full-time work. 

To make this especially relevant for WFH businesses, we've added the requirements for successful remote working. This includes; average broadband speed in different areas, the number of post-offices per city, and the cost to rent a one-bed apartment in the city centre. 

That way, you can find out the best place to turn your lockdown hobbies into a successful side hustle.  

See a breakdown of the top five and the complete index below.

1. Gloucester 

It looks like the South West is best when it comes to places to start a remote business. The former Roman city oozes character and charm and it ranks the best in our index with 162 points. 

With monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment coming in at £558 and a respectable average broadband speed of 39MB, self-starters should be on track to turn their bedroom into a business. 

The city also has one of the lowest unemployment rates out of all of the regions we analysed, meaning the demographic's disposable income and the local economy is stable. 

According to the local government, Gloucester has a strong entrepreneurial culture. Businesses that startup there have very high survival rates as the city offers a supportive environment for all sectors to grow.

Top index scores:

Five-year startup survival rate: 43%

Average monthly rent for one-bed city apartment: £565

Unemployment rate: 4.1%

Number of post offices in the city: 1283

 

Gloucester

 

2. Norwich 

North East of London, in East Anglia, Norwich may seem like quiet cobbled streets and castles, but the city is long-heralded as a thriving manufacturing hub. Although its heritage is ancient, the city's average age is relatively young at 34 years.

And with a large economy which ranks 15th out of 206 upper-tier authorities, it's home to more than 37,000 businesses and 348,000 jobs. 

Norwich is still growing. Even throughout recessions, the city's average growth rate is higher than all over non-London averages.

The local council have pledged that by 2026 there'll be 73,000 more homes and 57,000 more jobs. It also won the regional category in the Sunday Times' Best Places to Live' in 2020 – so now could be the time to turn your passion into a paycheque.

Top index scores:

Five-year startup survival rate: 43.2%

Average monthly rent for one-bed city apartment: £605

Unemployment rate: 4.6%

Average disposable income per week to residents: £454

 

Norwich

 

3. Southampton 

Home to the BBC South regional headquarters, Southampton is an important port city and commercial hub. Until the 18th century, Southampton was the second-largest city in the UK outside of London, and although it's less industrial today, it has remained of economic importance. 

The region of Hampshire is home to approximately 86,000 businesses, and the survival rates of new companies are among the highest in the South East and the UK.

Not only is it thriving economically, but its residents enjoy their lives there, earning it a place in the Guardian's 'Top 10 Happiest City in the UK to Work in' in 2016

Top index scores:

Average full-time weekly pay: £632

Average broadband speed: 52MB  

Unemployment rate: 3.7%

Average disposable income per week to residents: £454

 

Southampton

 

4. Carlisle 

The first city in the North West to feature in the top five, Carlisle is known for the beautiful and vast Lake District area, bringing around 15.8 million visitors yearly

Once the largest hat manufacturer in the world (and Samuel L. Jackson's hat of choice), Kangol had a large factory in Carlisle providing jobs for local people.  

And at the moment, the city is home to over 23,000 active businesses and enterprises and micro-businesses. The ambition is to further bolster their local economy with their Local Enterprise Partnership which aims to bring £1.3billion to the region by 2024 – so now could be a great time to pursue your startup. 

Top index scores:

Five-year startup survival rate: 43.2%

Average full-time weekly pay: £560

Average monthly rent for one-bed city apartment: £560

Number of post offices in the city: 1111

 

Carlisle

 

5. Swansea 

After the capital, Cardiff, the second-largest Welsh city, Swansea, has recently seen an influx in digital and technology startups. 

It's picturesque coastal towns and beaches attract tourists keen on surfing, sailing and water-skiing, and keen walkers who can visit 20 various nature reserves. 

Across 2018-2019 the number of active businesses in Swansea grew by 250 to 7,780. The retail sector had the most significant growth share of this, with 13.8% of the business stock in 2018. 

West Wales has rapidly become an affordable hub for small and medium enterprises. The Swansea Bay City region had 11 companies listed on the 2020 Wales Fastest Growth list, which recognises local Welsh businesses' success.  

Top index scores:

Number of post offices in the city: 2,9497

Average monthly rent for one-bed city apartment: £581.43

Average broadband speed: 62MB

Five-year startup survival rate: 38.3%

 

Swansea


The full index

Rank

City

Population

Total score

1

Gloucester

129,128

162

2

Norwich

140,573

156

3

Southampton

252,520

153

4

Carlisle

108,678

148

5

Swansea

246,993

146

6

Peterborough

202,259

145

7

Portsmouth

214,905

145

8

St Albans

148,452

143

9

Chelmsford

178,388

143

10

Lincoln

99,299

141

11

Canterbury

165,394

139

12

Exeter

131,405

138

13

Nottingham

332,900

138

14

Plymouth

262,100

137

15

Leicester

354,224

136

16

Belfast

343,542

134

17

Lancaster

146,038

132

18

Cambridge

124,798

131

19

Bradford

539,776

131

20

Wolverhampton

263,357

129


Methodology:

A combination of ONS (Population, Region Population, five-year start up survival rate & Unemployment Rate), Commons Library (Avg. weekly pay for full-time workers & Number of post offices within each city), Numbeo (Avg. monthly cost for rent) and Broadband speed data was used to create a remote business index. 

Each element has been assigned a weighted value that contributes to the final index score. The index scores for each city were then ranked to reveal the best cities to start a remote business from.

More about Dojo:

Dojo is part of Paymentsense – a payments provider specialising in helping independent businesses take payments, effortlessly. Based in the UK, and with offices in London, Bristol, Hull, Belfast and Dublin, they currently enable over 50,000 businesses to process more than £12 bn worth of card transactions annually. See our full range of card machines here.