There is no question that technology has given us the ability to get work done. You can work anywhere, any time. You can live in a tent in a cornfield in Kansas and do business. Or, you can kick back on some beach in Tahiti and sip drinks with those little umbrellas in them, while doing a face to face (ahem, Skype) business deal with a guy in Russia. You have the choice to do business from anywhere, anytime, including some of the most beautiful and mobile entrepreneur friendly towns in the USA.
Considering all that, I’ve identified countless towns that are ideal temporary work locations for mobile entrepreneurs in search of something better than the airport bar or the ridiculously expensive city hotel room. I’ve narrowed my list down to the top ten towns where entrepreneurs can find loads of free WiFi, have close proximity to restaurants, hospitals, hotels, B&Bs, coffee shops they call their “office,” and low costs for food, lodging and whatever.
Oh, and my other criteria: the town has to be within an hour of a major city and ideally be a “walking around” kind of town where you can stroll Main Street, and where lodging and downtown are all within walking distance.
So here you have it, the “Top 10 Small Towns for Mobile Entrepreneurs for 2013.”
10. Clayton, Georgia
Clayton covers only 3.1 square miles, yet has hotels, restaurants and WiFi, all within walking distance in a busy downtown. Clayton was famous for the bumper sticker, “Paddle faster. I hear banjos.” Both Clayton and nearby Dillard were home to the actors and crew of the movie “Deliverance,” back in 1972.
With 32 parks and outdoor facilities throughout Clayton, the Parks and Recreation Department is home to over 896 acres of parkland, three swimming pools, community centers, gymnasiums, playgrounds, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts, multi-purpose trails, and a nature preserve. It’s a beautiful part of the country, and has all the resources for you to get your work done. Bring your laptop.
9. Bastrop, Texas
When you’re in Austin for the SXSW conference next year, take time to head about 35 miles southeast of Austin to visit Bastrop. It’s one gritty, spunky town. It’s home to The Bastrop Advertiser and County News (now The Bastrop Advertiser) first published on March 1, 1853, giving it claim to being the oldest continuously published weekly (semi-weekly since September 5, 1977) in the state of Texas. In 1979 the National Register of historic places admitted 131 Bastrop buildings and sites to its listings. This earned Bastrop the title of the “Most Historic Small Town in Texas.” You can make your own history, by landing epic job after epic job from your iPad and iPhone as you get business done in this mobile entrepreneur friendly town.
8. Walcott, Iowa
Walcott is home of the world’s largest truck stop, Iowa 80, a TruckStops of America franchisee. Walcott is only 3.49 miles square, so hotels, restaurants and local amenities are all within walking distance. WiFi is cheap, and very often free. Think of it as Disneyland for truckers, with lots of chrome and the sweet smell of diesel. And if you want to get your entrepreneurial juices flowing just think about this: In 2009 trucking was a $544.4 billion industry, representing 81.9% of the nation’s freight bill. There are an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. delivering nearly $671 billion worth of manufactured and retail goods by truck alone and most of them rely on mobile technology to conduct business. Hang out in Walcott and find a way to get your claws into the industry.
7. Laughlin, Nevada
If you go to Vegas you don’t have to stay in Vegas. If you want to get away from the lights and pace of Vegas and get your work done, Laughlin is the place to go. It’s the third most visited city in the state, and is a much more relaxed, and far less expensive place. Yes, you can still gamble there. And yes, it is perfect for mobile entrepreneurs.
6. Wasilla, Alaska
Most famous for being headquarters for the Iditarod Sled-dog race, Wasilla is also the home of Alaska’s most visible celebrity, former 2008 Vice-Presidential hopeful and governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. Wasilla, Alaska is actually more business oriented than most people (including me) realize. It’s also one of six hubs for Alaska’s Small Business Development Centers and the fastest growing city in Alaska. An easy winner of 2013’s top towns for mobile entrepreneurs.
5. Bozeman, Montana
Makes it one of the largest small towns in the Midwestern United States, and the fourth largest city in Montana. The state is the fourth largest in landmass, but the 48th in population density. It’s a little over an hour’s drive from Helena, the state’s capital and if you go north or south in Montana on your way to Yellowstone National Park, the most visited national park in America, you’re probably going to pass through it anyway. It’s also home to Tom Egelhoff, author of three books about how to advertise and market in small towns, and a man Entrepreneur Magazine Radio called, “the leading authority in the U.S. for doing business in small towns.” Stop by and have a cup of coffee with Tom. He’s always looking for interesting entrepreneurs to interview on his radio show, and he can turn you on to all the hidden gems the town holds for mobile entrepreneurs.
4. New Hope, Pennsylvania
New Hope is filled to the city limits with entrepreneurs, artists, writers, creative types and small business. And the entire town is walk-around with block after block of shops, restaurants, coffee houses, free WiFi, and even a train station. An old canal runs through the town so you can sit outside, watch the water, sip your coffee, hammer away at your laptop and never have to get in your car for days. It’s popular with bikers, artists, writers, tourists and mobile entrepreneurs. Two major international airports, Philadelphia, PA and Newark, NJ are within an hours drive.
3. Poquoson, Virginia
Poquoson is a small town with a big media presence. Located just outside Hampton Roads and Norfolk, Virginia, this mobile entrepreneur friendly town has amazing views of the world’s largest natural harbour. Businessweek declared Poquoson as one of the safest communities in Virginia. And we are declaring it the best town in Virginia for the mobile entrepreneur.
2. Point Reyes, California
The nearest major city, San Francisco, is only 39 miles. Before you leave your heart in San Francisco, boogie up to Point Reyes for the day, or the week. Actually, it’s Bolinas, Olema, Inverness and Point Reyes Station, four towns that make up the community of Point Reyes. Yes, it’s a tourist destination, but it’s still affordable, has incredible views, tons of beaches, lots of walking around, small businesses, free WiFi at tons of locations and that laid back California atmosphere we all crave. Perfect for the mobile entrepreneur to get work done and relax – a combination that seemed impossible, until now.
1. Nederland, Colorado
Tucked in the Rocky Mountains, Nederland has a history rich in mining and music. With a tiny population of 1,470, the town has just the right amount of unique shops, amazing outdoor beauty, friendly locals, and a cool music scene. Get free WiFi at the town’s Best Western hotel (which is a pretty darn nice place) and head over to Buffalo Bill’s Coffee & Confections for awesome mini-donuts and WiFi. Go anywhere in town for great music. And no matter what, if you want to take a break from work as usual, schedule your stop at Nederland during their annual celebration called, (I kid you not) Frozen Dead Guys Days. The locales will tell you the story behind that name. Nederland is 33 miles outside of Denver and within an hour plus drive to Denver International Airport (and you don’t even need a car… the Denver bus system will get you there). It is 2013’s number one spot for the mobile entrepreneur to reconnect with life, and still get work done.
If you think your town is hotter, zip me an email or put the details in the comments below. This is the first annual ranking of towns. If you your town deserves to be recognized, let me why and we’ll put it in the mix for next year.