Top 10 cities for freelancers who can work from anywhere

This article is reproduced with permission from nerd wallet.

The pandemic has created more opportunities than ever for remote, self-employed and freelance work. Today, nearly 10 million Americans report being self-employed in some form.

The ability to work from anywhere is really appealing to many and raises an interesting question: if you could work from anywhere, where would it be?

To help you answer that question, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 cities for freelancers in 2022. Our underlying analysis, which used recent metropolitan area data from the US Census Bureau and city-level data, the State of the Federation of Administrators State Tax. , finds evidence of relatively affordable rent; these metropolitan areas also appear to have vibrant and growing independent cultures, as well as a growing demand for goods and services. Here’s the list.

Top 10 metro areas for freelancers
  • Greenville-Anderson, SC

  • City of Boise, Idaho

  • Columbus, Ohio

  • Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa

  • Ogden-Clearfield, Utah

  • Raleigh-Cary, North Carolina

  • Worcester, Mass.-Conn.

  • Chattanooga, Tennessee-Ga.

  • Winston-Salem, North Carolina

  • Knoxville, Tennessee.

Main conclusions
  • Many of the top 10 cities for freelancers had relatively low housing costs. According to Census Bureau data, 51.6% of US renters paid rent below the recommended threshold of 30% of gross monthly income. And some metro areas were well above that average, meaning they had higher proportions of people with relatively manageable rental expenses. Renting can make or break some freelancers. “Your number one strategy should be to keep your overhead as low as possible when you’re starting out,” says Lori Martinek, a Los Angeles-based certified mentor for SCORE, which is a national nonprofit that provides free resources for entrepreneurs. . .

  • In the best cities for freelancers, unemployment was usually relatively low and jobs were added. A good job market and an influx of workers can signal a growing demand for goods and services from self-employed workers. The top 10 metro regions tended to perform very well in these areas and all had a net increase in the number of people hired in 2020.

  • The size of the self-employed community is notable in many major metropolitan areas. Nationally, 5.8% of workers were self-employed in an unincorporated company, according to 2019 data from the US Census Bureau. Several of the metro areas on our list exceeded this percentage, suggesting they had rich, active environments for temporary workers, independent contractors, and freelancers.

  • Minimum state tax rates are relatively low in most large cities. While deductions, credits, filing status options, and tax rules make it difficult to predict any freelancer’s tax burden, state income tax minimum rates can indicate whether freelancers’ tax bills may be higher or lower in some places.

Also on CNET: The best and most affordable places to live in Florida

Decide if and where to move

Moving isn’t easy or cheap, so deciding when to move to another city can be tricky. Business experts say to keep three things in mind when considering a move.

1. Understand the tax effects

The bigger the city, the more expensive it is to live, says Jonathan Medows, a Medows CPA certified public accountant in New York. State income tax brackets and rates vary, and in some places there are even new or additional taxes to consider. The hometown of Medows, New York, for example, has a municipal income tax in addition to state and federal taxes; freelancers who relocate there may need to consider raising their fees to offset the additional tax burden.

2. Don’t just rip your life out

Medows recommends prior travel. “Soak your toes. Go away for a few weeks. Work here. See if it’s viable. Moving is expensive and I would love a pilot trip,” he says. It will also give you the opportunity to gather the tax and licensing information you need.

“So number one, get an overview of the field; understand municipal, state and municipal taxes. Second, understand if you need commercial licenses,” he says. “Third, see if your good or service you are offering is subject to sales tax and register for sales tax.” Zoning laws should be another consideration, adds Medows.

See too: 14 of the best and most affordable places to live on the west coast

After moving in, go to your local bank and open your account in person, says Martinek. “Go meet the people at the bank, tell them what you’re trying to do. And they will connect you to other organizations and small businesses. It happens over and over again,” she notes. “They want to help you because they want to see your business grow.”

3. Know when location matters — and when it doesn’t

“One of the benefits of being a freelancer or independent contractor is that you can literally live and work anywhere that has a high-speed internet connection, nationally or internationally,” says Martinek.

Location can’t solve everything, however. “Things that this location can’t solve include, for example, not having a business plan or having a valuable skill or service to offer,” says Martinek. Also, certain types of work may only be available in specific areas – freelance camera job opportunities in areas with lots of TV and movie sets, for example. “You can be in the busiest city in the world, but if you can’t find customers for what you do, you’re in the wrong place,” says Medows.

You might like: If you’re considering moving to the countryside, be aware of these hidden costs.


To create the list, NerdWallet pulled data for major US metropolitan areas from the United States Census Bureau. We also withdraw state tax rates from the Federation of State Tax Administrators. We weighted the impact of each factor based on how important we felt that factor was to a freelancer’s potential financial success. We excluded metropolitan regions for which there were negative or non-existent census data on workflows.

NerdWallet analysis includes data from the following sources:

  • Data from the 2019 US Census American Community Survey for the unemployment rate, the percentage of people in census-designated metro areas who self-identified as self-employed in unincorporated businesses, and the percentage of renters in a census-designated metro area who spend less than 30% of their time. family income on rent.

  • US Census Job-to-Job Explorer data for Q4 2019 and Q4 2020.

  • State Tax Rates for 2022 from the Federation of State Tax Administrators.

More from NerdWallet

Tina Orem writes for NerdWallet. Email:

Leave a Comment