Working From Home. For Many, the Love of Cape Cod Inspires Entrepreneurism

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Jesse and Jane Craig were tired of sitting in Boston traffic and not having a backyard at their Cambridge residence. With two young children and parents who were retiring to Cape Cod, they made one of the biggest decisions of their lives. They would move here.

Two years later, the Craig’s live in a four-bedroom, Cape-style house that overlooks Cape Cod Bay. On nearly an acre of land, they enjoy a new pool and a large yard that accommodates their kids and dog. Jane, a physician, works part-time for Cape Cod Healthcare, and Jesse works full-time from his home office, for GlobalFoundries, a leader in the field of advanced semiconductor design and manufacturing. “We design and build microchips used in everything from cellphones to satellite components,” explains Jesse.

Jesse represents one of the fastest-growing demographics on Cape Cod—the home-based business. From Falmouth to Provincetown, there are more than 6,000 home-based businesses, and that number is growing rapidly. In Barnstable alone, there are 1,264 home- based businesses. About one in four of these represent highly skilled professionals—whose careers range from computer programming and graphic design to law and accounting, finance and marketing.

Supported by high-speed Internet service and mobile technology, as well as access to airports in Providence and Boston, these home-based businesses reflect a shift in the U.S. economy. There are more than 16 million people working from home nationwide, and that number is expected to increase nearly 70 percent by 2018. A study by the Cape Cod Commission found that 40 percent of second home owners who plan to move here full time expect to work—mostly from home.

One publisher who retired early to the Cape found himself owning and operating four magazines and a website within three years of his arrival—relying on a laptop, tablet and smart phone, all from his home office. “I sell advertising, work with designers, writers and programmers and collaborate with printers from any room in my home,” he marvels.

Then, there are the many weekend warriors—second-home owners, mostly with primary residences in the Boston metro area, who commute to the Cape Thursday night, and work at home before heading back to the Boston area Monday morning. Builders on the Cape encounter them frequently, because most newly built homes include a home office with state-of-the-art technology.

In Jesse’s case, he can be more productive working from home since his team of collaborators cannot meet in one office. Their talents and skills are so specialized that it takes an entire world to accommodate them.

Jesse’s home office is equipped with four large monitors, a logic analyzer, a programmable power supply, an oscilloscope and a slew of peripherals. He often works late to accommodate the different time zones of his team members. “This typically happens when conferencing—often with sharing software—with people from Taiwan, Japan, China and Korea,” he says.

Like many others on Cape Cod, Jesse can work not only on the Internet, but also within a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that allows him to connect securely with computer systems that run inside his corporate firewall. VPN is opening telecommuting opportunities to fields as diverse as finance and banking.

“When I moved to the Cape I was told to expect blackouts, but fortunately this has not been the case,” says Jesse. “I have yet to lose a workday to a service interruption. The Internet speed offered by the cable company far exceeds what I need and is very competitive with the rest of the country.”

The Cape is served by Comcast, which provides business-class service, and Verizon FIOS in many towns, but not all of them.

For Jesse, working from home has made him more productive, and a better father. “Now, I can help out with the kids. I can take my daughter to and from the bus stop in the morning, go to school events during the day,” he says. “In the summer, we can take lunch and take a quick trip to the beach, which is only a few minutes away. And when I have to work at night, I can do so without missing dinner.”

The Craigs’ Cape Cod lifestyle works for their family. “We love the Cape,” Jesse says. “We feel like we are truly part of a community. We love how easy it is to enjoy nature. We love walking in the Cape Cod National Seashore, swimming in the bay within eyesight of the house. And with both sets of grandparents retired here, the kids get to see them—and we have great babysitters.”