Top US Cities for Freelancers

During the last couple of years, more and more people have turned to freelancing as a way of earning their income. According to data, there were 59 million freelancers in the USA in 2020, compared to 53 million in 2014.

Freelancing gives people flexibility. It allows people to have the freedom to have their own schedule, hours, location and selectivity with clients. As the pandemic struck, this gave many people the perfect opportunity to launch their own websites and ecommerce businesses to give it a try.

We wanted to see where in the US provides the best place to freelance from. Based on tax rates, working space costs, travel links and more, we can reveal the best cities for becoming your own boss.

The Top Five Cities for Freelancers

If you’re thinking of packing up the 9-5 and going your own way, these are the cities you should be checking out.

Dallas, Texas

Dallas Texas

Photo by R K on Unsplash

Dallas is a huge metropolis in the heart of Texas, home to over 1.3 million people. It’s actually the ninth most populous city in the whole of the US, so it’s no surprise that it’s so well connected. There are 50 WeWork and Regus coworking spaces, as well as independent ones found on Google in total, offering freelancers plenty of opportunities to book a desk and get down to work.

On average, each spot is only 187 meters away from the nearest public transport, and will only cost $267 per month to use. If you want a bit more privacy, a Dallas private Regus office will cost around $271 a month per person, and you’ll only have to pay $92 a month to connect to WiFi there.

Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville Florida

Photo by Trevor Neely on Unsplash

Not only is Jacksonville one of the sunnier cities you could freelance in, it will also be kind on your bank balance. It has one of the best rates of personal income tax in the country – 0% – meaning you’ll get to keep all of what you earn, while you’ll only have to pay an average of $244 per month for a coworking space – of which there are 10 to choose from on Google Maps, WeWork and Regus.

Admittedly, that’s not as many as you’d find elsewhere, and the walk from the nearest station might take a little longer than you’d like at 1,872m. However, tax really does play an important role when you’re making the freelance leap, and paying no personal income tax on your earnings should be enough to make Jacksonville a serious consideration. You’ll also save money on a private office, costing only $69.43 a month.

Houston, Texas

Houston Texas

Photo by CY on Unsplash

Another Texan city making waves is Houston. It’s fast becoming a hot-spot for business activity, and there are plenty of reasons why. There’s an incredible 62 coworking spaces on WeWork, Regus and Google Maps to choose from, on average only 508m away from the nearest public transport.

Shared workspaces cost around $254 per month, which is a little cheaper than its state rival, as are offices at $267 a month. Another way you’d save money in the city is through your internet connection – the average price is only $68.33 a month.

Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis Tennessee

Photo by Emily Finch on Unsplash

The birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll could soon be the birthplace of your own business. Memphis has 24 coworking spaces to choose from according to WeWork, Regus and Google Maps, and they will set you back around $310 a month to use, but with internet costs of $78.17 you’ll be able to get connected wherever you are. The city also charges no income tax, which is definitely something worth considering if you decide to go self-employed.

Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis Indiana

Photo by Corbin Mathias on Unsplash

Completing our top five is Indianapolis. The city has 46 coworking spaces to choose from according to Google Maps, WeWork and Regus, giving you plenty of opportunities to set up shop. They are all a decent walk away from public transport though – 1,058m will get your steps in before you start your day. You’d only need to spend an average of $229.83 to work in one, making Indianapolis cheaper than any of our top five cities.

Best US Cities for freelancing

The Worst Five Cities for Freelancing

While some cities are a freelance paradise, others leave a lot to be desired. These cities lack the basic essentials to make freelancing work, meaning you might be better off looking elsewhere.

Torrance, California​​ Torrance California

Photo by Philip Smart on Unsplash

A great city if you want to work in tech, not so great if you want to do it for yourself. Torrance constantly achieves low crime rates, but that’s where its good scoring stops. It only has five coworking spaces with an average rating of 3.9, that will cost you around $396 a month, while offices are no better at $420. Want to freelance online? That will set you back $86.66 a month.

Berkeley, California

Berkeley California

Photo by Qijun Yu on Unsplash

Another Californian city that doesn’t fare well for freelancing is Berkeley. We only found nine coworking spaces across our sources, and they cost an average of $338 a month. An internet connection is also one of the more expensive on our list, setting you back $104.99 a month. If you want freelancing flexibility, you better be prepared to pay the price in Berkeley.

Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City New Jersey

Photo by Joey Pedras on Unsplash

New Jersey charges a tax rate of 6.625%, but that’s not the only place where you’d have to pay out. Jersey City charges around $504.50 per month for a coworking space, and you’ve only got nine to choose from across WeWork, Regus and other Google Maps-listed offices. Office spaces aren’t much better for your bank balance at $430 a month, while even virtual offices will cost around $126.50. If saving money is high on your freelance agenda, Jersey City might not help.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu Hawaii

Photo by AussieActive on Unsplash

While freelancing in Hawaii might sound dreamy, once you get out of the hot sun and beautiful beaches, you’ll find more reasons to get hot under the collar. The cost of a coworking space is $632 a month – more than any other city we surveyed. Getting online is also pricey at $114.99 a month, although with 650 hotspots across the island, you might be tempted to do all your work outside.

Concord, California

Sorry, California, but three of our worst five freelancing cities can be found within your borders. There are only 10 coworking spaces in Concord across Google Maps, WeWork and Regus, although at around $282 a month, there are definitely more expensive places to work. There are only two meeting spaces to choose from too, and if you fancy going private, you’d need to pay $340 a month for one of the 74 offices on offer.

Worst US Cities for freelancing

Glendale, California Has the Highest Average Coworking Reviews

Coworking California

Did you know you can leave reviews for coworking spaces? Just like restaurants and events, coworking spots rely heavily on their reputation, and encourage reviews from the people who use them. Glendale, California has the highest average reviews of all, bagging an enviable five stars for its six coworking hubs.

But it’s not all sunshine and smiles in CA – at the other end of the table is Costa Mesa, which only manages 3.6 stars for its three sites.

Why Some States Work Better for Self-Employed

Best Cities for Freelancers Breakdown

States like California, New York and Colorado stand out ahead of the pack when it comes to freelancing opportunities. They all offer ample coworking spaces – 548, 364 and 305 respectively – which all get average reviews above 4.5 stars.

Transport is key to freelancing. While traditional jobs mean you’ll likely be in the same space everyday, freelancers regularly have to travel to meet with clients, and could be heading all over the state to find them.

Another important thing to consider is internet speeds. The major states will have good connectivity thanks to businesses being based there, while some smaller, or more rural states might be someway behind.

Finally, you should always think about tax. When you work full-time, this is all taken care of for you, but when you go freelance you’ll need to sort this yourself. Each state will have its own income tax rate, which could make a big difference to the amount you bring in each month. Do your research before setting up shop to make sure you get to keep more of the money you earn.

New York Has More Coworking Spaces than Anywhere Else

Coworking New York

Photo by Michael Discenza on Unsplash

One of the biggest differences between freelancing and working for someone else is your office space. When you decide to go self-employed, your home becomes your work, leaving many people to look for coworking spaces to keep their home life separate.

Freelancers in New York City have more choice with this than in any other city. The Big Apple offers 270 coworking spaces on Google Maps, WeWork and Regus, more than double its nearest rival.

Los Angeles is second, albeit someway back with 105, while Washington offers 101. While those numbers are still impressive, then nothing compared to the freelance flexibility offered in NYC.

South Dakota Florida and Nevada Are Great for Saving on Tax

When you earn as a freelancer, you’re advised to set at least 20% of that aside to pay your personal income tax, as well as enough to pay federal income tax. However, you can save if you’re somewhere that doesn’t charge state income tax.

South Dakota is a great example of this. You won’t have to pay any tax on what you earn, meaning you could be better off compared to doing the same work elsewhere. Florida and Nevada don’t charge state income tax either, making them all good options for setting up your business if you’re looking to save.

On the other hand, freelancers in New Jersey will have to pay state income tax of 10.75% on their earnings, while New York charges even more at 10.9%. All of this can add up, especially in your early years, when every dollar counts.

Table of the best cities for freelancers in the US

 

The Best Paying Freelance Jobs Right Now

The amount you can charge for freelancing depends mainly on two things – one, how good you are at your job, and two, how in demand your job is. These freelance roles pay more on average, and could be a great option if going your own way is something you’re considering.

Media Buyer – $50-$200 an hour

A media buyer secures advertising space for brands to use. They might spend their time securing a page in a newspaper, a billboard, or even 30 seconds of TV airtime. The reason they can charge so much is because these spaces are so sought after. If they know the right people, they can secure the right coverage, which could make all the difference when it comes to a marketing campaign.

Public Relations Manager – $50-$100 an hour

If you work in PR, you’ll be dealing with the press on a daily basis, managing the stories they cover and the narrative they tell. They’ll basically create and protect a brand’s reputation, which is why they can earn so much.

Photographer – $40-$100 an hour

Photography can cover everything from advertising through to weddings, family portraits or journalism. If you’ve got the right equipment and know how to use it, your skills could be worth a lot of money.

Business Consultant – $28-$98 an hour

A Business Consultant will go into a business and help them make the big decisions. Often they’re brought in from outside an organization so they can act impartially. They might decide on a restructure, a name change, new hires or even redundancies.

Data Analyst – $20-$50 an hour

If you’ve got a good eye for numbers and what they mean, freelancing as a Data Analyst could be a good career choice. Data is key for many businesses, and if you can help them interpret it, they’ll be willing to pay.

Looking To Go Freelance in 2022?

If you’re ready to become your own boss, a website is your first step to success. We’ll help you create a website for your small business to get your idea off the ground. A good website can attract clients, showcase your work and, ultimately, earn you money. The best thing is that you can even build a website for free! Make sure the first thing people see is something that will make you unforgettable.

Methodology

14 metrics contributed towards the overall index for coworking spaces within US cities, with a percentage weighting applied to ensure factors considered significant to people utilizing coworking spaces had higher weightings. These index scores were then averaged to give a total score for each city. The cities were then ordered from highest to lowest with the city receiving the highest average score being considered the best city for freelancing.

Cities which lacked data for number of coworking spaces, average monthly costs of coworking space and average distance to transit stations were not considered in this research. Wework and Regus were selected as providing a good representation of the coworking spaces market as they had the best coverage across the United States and metrics could be standardized across them due to each location providing the same level of detail for the metrics chosen.

For total coworking spaces for cities and states, Google Maps (excluding WeWork & Regus) was scraped in addition to scrapes from the Wework and Regus websites to provide an overall picture of the United States Coworking Spaces environment. Precautions were taken to remove coworking spaces which did not qualify as locations which could be rented for business usage or lacked enough data to qualify for inclusion. The city associated with each coworking space was based off the locations in their Google Maps profile or address for Regus and Wework. Top freelancer jobs data was from Upwork.

 

About Robert Brandl, BA (Hons) Munich University MUAS

robert brandl

Hi, my name is Robert Brandl, and I am the founder of Tooltester. I used to work in a digital marketing agency where I managed website and email marketing projects. To optimize my client's campaigns, I always had to find the optimal web tools. Tooltester (founded in 2010) opens this knowledge to you, hopefully saving you endless hours of research. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. You can also find me on LinkedIn.

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