AT A GLANCE

  • According to Zen99, the 10 best cities for freelancers include Los Angeles, Miami, and Houston
  • As per NerdWallet, the 10 best cities for freelancers include Los Angeles, Portland, Miami, and Austin
  • Approximately 18% of L.A. households reported self-employment income in 2012

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Jun 01, 2015

The Best Cities For Freelancing

Freelancing has become a major trend in the business world over the last couple of years. More businesses are starting to realize the value of employing freelance workers, and more individuals are finding contract work to either supplement or replace their traditional jobs.

Recently Zen99, a company that provides insurance and tax tools to freelancers, analyzed data to discover which cities possessed factors that would appeal to freelancers. These factors included personal preferences such as climate and proximity to family and friends. They also included economic realities such as self-employment income, affordability of insurance, cost of living, housing costs, and tax rates. Also taken into account was the economic robustness of an area, based on employment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

According to Zen99, the 10 best cities for freelancers are:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Miami
  3. Houston
  4. Oklahoma City
  5. Dallas
  6. Nashville
  7. Portland
  8. Austin
  9. Oakland
  10. Tucson

A similar analysis by NerdWallet also looked at similar factors to discover the best cities for freelancers. Additionally, NerdWallet looked to see if there were other successful freelancers in the area, as these cities provide more resources for freelancers and a sustainable freelance lifestyle.

According to NerdWallet, the top 10 best cities for freelancers are:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Portland
  3. Miami
  4. Austin
  5. Nashville
  6. Minneapolis
  7. Lexington
  8. Oklahoma City
  9. Seattle
  10. Lincoln

Both analyses found Los Angeles, California to be the top city for freelance workers. In Zen99’s calculations, the city’s health insurance is not the most affordable and median housing costs are among the highest. But Los Angeles is home to the most freelancers in the country. According to NerdWallet, 17.9 percent of L.A. households reported self-employment income in 2012. Because so many people do freelance work, there are many facilities and outlets for freelancers to connect and collaborate with others, including coworking spaces and meet-up groups. Gabe Rosenberg, writer on the blog The Freelancer, attributes much of this freelance work to the movie industry. Indie filmmakers, screenwriters, actors, and production assistants make up a bulk of the freelance labor in Hollywood.

Interestingly, the only Eastern city found on both lists was Miami, while most cities tended to be on the Western coast of the United States. In Miami, freelancers make up 14.6 percent of all workers, working in areas such as fashion, writing, web design, and lifestyle businesses. Miami is also home to the largest number of foreign-born self-employed workers in the country. Additionally, a new push to bolster the arts and technology startup scene in the city has led to the growth of co-working spaces, communities, and events dedicated to a freelance lifestyle.

“It’s already hard enough being an independent contractor. So anything you can do to maximize where you’re living in terms of cost of living or existing support network is really important for contractors to do.” ~Tristan Zier, CEO of Zen99

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