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Best Places for Freelancers

Aug. 31, 2016
Making Money, Personal Finance
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Over a third of U.S. workers, including those in the construction industry, did some kind of freelancing in the previous year, according to a 2015 report from the Freelancers Union. To identify the places where freelancers are likely to thrive in the nation’s 50 most populous cities, NerdWallet analyzed data on the local population of freelancers, income and working expenses, such as health insurance and cell phone services.

In the top 10 cities, freelancers — those who don’t run an incorporated business and who aren’t contract employees — tend to cluster by occupation.

Construction, computers, other industries

Construction jobs account for over 18% of the self-employed population in Nashville, Tennessee, and in California’s San Francisco and Long Beach, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

In half of the top 10 places, 12% to 14% of the self-employed population work in professional, scientific and management services, which includes graphic and interior designers, computer programmers and consultants.

Three of the top five places on the list are in the South, and half of the top 10 places have populations under 500,000. Dallas is the only place in the top 10 with a population of over 1 million.

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Top 10 best places for freelancers

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Nashville, Tennessee
  3. Dallas
  4. Atlanta
  5. Louisville, Kentucky
  6. San Francisco
  7. Mesa, Arizona
  8. Fort Worth, Texas
  9. Sacramento, California
  10. Long Beach, California

Places that made the list were ranked based on median monthly income (after taxes) for freelancers, median rent, cost of a basic health insurance plan, costs of a cell phone plan, national and state cell phone taxes, cell phone coverage from the four major carriers and the percentage of self-employed workers in each place.

Read the full report to see additional details about the methodology.