You’ve probably heard the common line of thought that suggests how you can live anywhere and be a freelancer, mainly if you do work online.
As long as you have an internet connection, you can find work and complete assignments from those clients.
That’s technically true, but location-related factors could dictate how easy or hard it is to get freelance work and otherwise cause you to feel that freelancing was a good decision.
First, we’ll look at those in a general sense, then examine the top five places for freelancers to live.
Why Location Matter for Some Freelancers?
One of the reasons why location could make a difference in your freelance career is if it gives you the practical things you need to succeed as a freelance worker. For example, does the destination have reliable internet access? And, if you don’t want to work from your house, are there coffee shops or co-working spaces to use? Having access to those means that even if your home internet connection goes down, other options exist.
You may also find it easier to thrive as a freelancer if the location you choose has excellent social support for remote workers. Although freelancing has its perks, it can be lonely. If you have in-person opportunities to connect with other freelancers, the likelihood goes up that you’ll feel socially fulfilled — and may even find new work through the people you meet.
Location can also make a difference from an employer’s point of view.
Freelancing is becoming a more popular option, with a new study showing that freelancers from the United States spent more than a billion hours per week working in 2018 alone. But, some employers may be hesitant to hire someone who hails from an unfamiliar place, potentially connecting familiarity with trustworthiness and reliability.
Alternatively, they may want only to hire freelancers that are in the same time zone, especially if they plan to give them new batches of work to complete throughout the day or want the workers to be continually accessible through communication platforms during each workday. There are also cases where companies hire remote workers but require them to periodically come into work, too.
In cases like these, being in particular places undoubtedly makes it easier to achieve success as a freelancer.
Here are the five top cities to have on your radar.
1. Boulder, Colorado
This city has an assortment of freelancer-friendly coffee shops, not to mention various Meetup groups for freelancers geared toward web developers, content strategists, photographers, and more. Also, if you’re a freelancer specializing in marketing or advertising, it’s worth checking out the bi-annual Freelance Fling.
It’s an event hosted by Advertising Club Colorado that takes place every spring in Denver and every fall in Boulder. Freelancers get five minutes to make one-on-one pitches to people from Colorado companies that need freelance services.
Also notable is the fact that Boulder recently ranked as one of the Top 20 Tech Towns. If your freelance work involves tech — as most do in some way or another — Boulder could be an especially advantageous place to move.
2. New York, New York
Despite its high cost of living that you’ll certainly have to keep in mind as a freelancer, New York undoubtedly has name recognition that could give potential clients a reason to consider you for the work their work. Also, New York is one of the smartest cities in the United States. City planners there have worked since 2007 to further technological advances to improve the lives of its residents and visitors.
A smart city like New York also might have an ongoing need for freelance workers, such as those that do web or software development and design — especially considering how many of the amenities in the city likely have unique portals and websites for authorized users or members of the public to see.
There’s also a freelancers’ hub in Brooklyn, which is a collaboration between New York City officials and the Freelancer’s Union. Since the location opened in August 2018, at least 4,000 people have signed up to use its coworking space and other perks. Getting linked in here could provide you with excellent networking opportunities that help you feel right at home in New York as a freelancer.
3. Nashville, Tennessee
This Tennessee city has a reputation for being where hopeful musicians go to get discovered. So, you’ll undoubtedly find many musicians jumping into the freelance lifestyle here, but Nashville is also a haven for other creative types ranging from animators to videographers. As such, you’ll meet people who understand what the freelance lifestyle entails, and they may have work leads for you to try.
The rise in people setting out as freelancers in Nashville also led to a host of co-working spaces — some that offer perks like pet-friendly spaces, dedicated desks, and full kitchens. Since you can find some that offer both day and monthly rates, it’s easy to find a plan that fits your budget.
Nashville is also home to the STORY Conference, which brings together storytellers of all types to share their experiences and encourage each other. It’s not exclusively for freelancers, but given the diverse attendees, it attracts — from brand managers to poets — you should have no trouble finding other freelancers and putting your heads together for some valuable networking time.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
If you’re eager to venture outside of the U.S. for freelance work, Lisbon is an excellent choice for freelancers.
In addition to its lower cost of living compared to other surrounding European cities, it has excellent weather and easy access to both the mountains and the beach. So, those things mean you could embrace the freelance lifestyle in a way that others traditionally envy by setting up your workspace under a beach umbrella or elsewhere in nature.
Lisbon also hosts Web Summit in November 2019, a well-reviewed gathering of tech professionals. Attending it could help you find work and assert your skills.
5. Vancouver, Canada
This Canadian city makes it onto a list of low-cost places for Americans to work remotely. That’s due, in part, to the fact that the American dollar goes further in Canada than at home thanks to the exchange rate. Keep that in mind if you already have some American clients and want to branch out to see what’s available from Canadian companies.
One thing to note is that housing isn’t cheap. But, Vancouver is appealing to freelancers because of the high quality of living it provides.
There are also things to do all year round, especially if you like to get outside and enjoy Mother Nature’s abundance. If you get homesick for the States, Seattle, Washington is less than 150 miles from Vancouver. Also, you have plenty of ways to get between the two places — ranging from a ferry to a plane to a train.
The short distance could work in your favor if you find a freelance client in Seattle who insists on meeting in-person to nail out the specifics of a project or wants you to work in the office for a day per month to have a closer relationship with your on-site colleagues.
Location Matters – to an Extent
As an earlier section here covered, location can make a difference both in the opportunities you can seize and the way that clients perceive you.
If you’re currently trying to make it as a freelancer and live somewhere other than one of the cities on this list, don’t worry. It’s possible to find income-generating options as a freelancer wherever you are.
But, if you’re considering moving soon and are ready to take your freelance livelihood to the next level, getting settled in one of the places mentioned here could help tremendously.