Freelancing means you call the shots. It’s your business. You have the freedom to work anywhere you want – at home, in an office, in a café, or in-person with local clients.
With so many options, how do we decide where to live? Are there preferred cities for freelancers to live and work?
Consider housing costs, transportation, the cost of living, internet availability, safety, and community when checking out these top 10 cities for freelancers.
1. New York, New York
As the headquarters of the national nonprofit organization the Freelancers Union, New York City offers limitless freelancer opportunities and support.
May 15, 2017 marked a huge victory for NYC freelancers: the Freelance Isn’t Free Law was passed. The law protects NYC freelancers from nonpayment, giving freelancers rights such as mandatory contracts, payment protections, and legal assistance.
Outside of the Freelance Isn’t Free Law, NYC opened the Freelancers Hub, a free coworking space for the freelance community. The city encourages individuals and small business owners to thrive with these resources.
2. Nashville, Tennessee
Also known as Music City, Nashville is one of the most creative and affordable cities in the U.S. for freelancers.
When working from home feels distracting, independent contractors have the option to work at local coworking spaces, such as the Entrepreneur Center, Industrious, and The INK Building. Outside of work, freelancers can meet like-minded business owners at local events like SPARK Nashville.
Nashville also hosts STORY, an annual conference that calls itself “an uncommon creative community” where everyone is a storyteller.
3. Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City is considered to be the most affordable city in the U.S. for freelancers. With more affordable housing, freelancers may work less hours during the week and spend more time practicing self-care.
Two great resources for freelancers include the Kansas City Coworking Alliance and The Freelance Exchange (FX).
The KC Coworking Alliance consists of a group of independent coworking spaces in the metropolitan area. The alliance encourages freelancers to search for nearby spaces to work collaboratively.
FX, a nonprofit organization, hosts educational events geared toward self-employed workers in the advertising and marketing industry. The events are free, and FX offers additional resources to paid members.
4. Austin, Texas
Austin is one of seven U.S. states without individual income tax, providing resources for freelancers in the tech and art industries.
As the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin hosts the annual SXSW Conference, and the Freelance Conference, bringing freelancers together from all over the U.S. to learn, collaborate, and share their experiences.
For networking opportunities, Freelance Austin works with contract and freelance professionals to succeed in their field.
For fast-paced learning sessions, Ignite Freelance challenges presenters to run through 20 presentation slides, each slide changing every 15 seconds.
5. San Francisco, California
San Francisco’s large tech and startup community earns its spot on the list of top cities for freelancers in the U.S., especially with 8.1 percent of the population being self-employed.
Tech companies Twitter, Airbnb and Uber were all founded in the City by the Bay. The latter two companies allow individuals to earn additional income in cities all over the world.While New York and San Francisco are listed among the top cities for freelancers due to the populations and career opportunities, these are among the most expensive cities in the U.S. to live.
6. Portland, Oregon
Portland was dubbed the most-caffeinated city in America in 2018 with 685 coffee shops! 7.6 percent of the population is self-employed, connecting freelancers in its local SPARK group.
The City of Roses is ideal for freelancers to alert, Oregon doesn’t collect state sales tax, and offers health insurance at below-average costs.
7. Atlanta, Georgia
Another popular city for freelancers, 5.8 percent of Atlanta’s population is self-employed, hosting groups like SPARK Atlanta and the Freelance Forum.
In downtown Atlanta, The Georgia World Congress Center presents many business opportunities with conventions and trade shows. The Professional Photographers of America recently held its annual Imaging USA conference at the center.
Within walking distance from the center, Centennial Park surrounds visitors with calm, quiet times when you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of work to enjoy the outdoors.
Atlanta is also home to the World of Coca-Cola, CNN World Headquarters, and the largest aquarium in the world, the Georgia Aquarium.
8. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Just as freelancers wear many caps, Pittsburgh sports a few nicknames: “The ‘Burgh,” “City of Champions,” “Steel City” with more than 300 steel-industry businesses, and the “City of Bridges” thanks to its 446 bridges.
Local creatives flock to SPARK Pittsburgh and The Work Hard Pittsburgh Cooperative for networking opportunities as the freelancer community represents 4.8 percent of the population.
9. Washington, DC
Washington, DC plays host to annual conferences, such as FinCon, ScienceWriters, and ANA DC Nonprofit Conference, educating audiences on marketing and fundraising ideas.
Free wifi and quiet corners in public courtyards and libraries make for creative workspaces.
For even more resources, freelancers gather every first Wednesday of the month for DC SPARK and every third Sunday for their networking meetup.
10. Miami, Florida
“Magic City,” nicknamed for its growth, is filled with history, culture, and artistic inspiration. Miami is another expensive city to live in the U.S., but it continues to grow and provide financial opportunities for business owners.
Local meetups like the South Florida Bloggers and CollabMiami bring creators, influencers, and freelancers together to learn and grow at their own pace.
Keeping residents and tourists immerged in art, its year-round displays of graffiti and street art at the Wynwood Walls and the annual Art Basel make Miami is a go-to city for creatives.
Where do you want to work??
Do you want to work remotely, at your home office, or at a nearby coworking space? Would you benefit from meeting with clients in person?
Freelancing offers flexibility in your professional and personal life.
Consider the best option for you and your work with these top 10 cities for freelancers in mind.
You have the final say in setting your hours, how much you get paid, and what services you want to provide to help your clients, and to work on projects that you’re proud of!