25 of the Best Cities for Freelancers to Work and Play

best cities for freelancers

Freelancing has become a major trend in the small business world over the last few years. And it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. While more businesses are realizing the benefits of employing freelance workers, more individuals are finding contract work to either supplement or replace their traditional jobs.

And although freelancers can usually work from anywhere, some places are definitely more freelancer friendly than others. Zen99, a provider of tax and insurance tools for freelance workers, recently put together a list of the top cities for freelance workers, based on several different factors.

The Best Cities for Freelancers

Los Angeles

best cities for freelancers

Despite this city’s high housing cost and tax rate, it has the highest percentage of self-employed individuals of any major city in the country. That means freelancers there have access to collaboration with others through coworking spaces and other freelancers in the Los Angeles, California area.


best cities for freelancers

Miami, Florida has the second highest percentage of self-employed workers. And with slightly lower income tax rates and housing costs than those in L.A., it makes for a great option for freelance workers too.


best cities for freelancers

This Texas city doesn’t have quite as high of a self-employment rate. But Houston doesn’t collect income taxes from residents and boasts fairly low health insurance rates and housing costs.

Oklahoma City

best cities for freelancers

This city’s low unemployment rate of 4.2 percent, paired with below average housing and health insurance costs, make Oklahoma City, Oklahoma a fine choice for independent workers.


best cities for freelancers

Like Houston, Dallas, Texas doesn’t collect income taxes from residents. And it also has decent rates for insurance and housing, along with a respectable self-employed community, 7.2 percent of the population.


best cities for freelancers

The low cost of health insurance and income taxes top the list of reasons Nashville, Tennessee makes the list of best cities for freelancers.


best cities for freelancers

This Oregon city has a decent 7.5 percent self-employed workers. That, along with a below average health insurance cost, is enough to offset the tax rate and cost of living expenses in Portland.


best cities for freelancers

The third Texas city to make the list, Austin boasts a low unemployment rate of 4.2 percent. That rate, plus a decent self-employment percentage and no income tax make it a great city for freelancers.


best cities for freelancers

An 8.7 percent self-employment percentage makes Oakland, California one of the most popular locations for freelancers in the country. However, Oakland’s high income tax rate and cost of living knock it a few notches down on the list.


best cities for freelancers

Low housing and health insurance costs make Tucson, Arizona a friendly city for freelancers. In addition, it has only a 4.5 percent income tax rate and self-employed people make up 5.7 percent of the workforce.


best cities for freelancers

Phoenix, Arizona has the same income tax and health insurance rates as Tucson. But with a slightly higher cost of living and a higher self-employment percentage, it makes for a similarly great place for freelancers.

El Paso

best cities for freelancers

El Paso, Texas has one of the lowest costs of living of any city in the top 25. It also has a 6.3 percent self-employed rate and, like other Texas cities on this list, no state income tax.


best cities for freelancers

Though housing costs are high in Denver, Colorado, the unemployment rate is extremely low at 4 percent. And it also has reasonable income tax and insurance rates.

New Orleans

best cities for freelancers

New Orleans, Louisiana doesn’t lead the pack in any category, but it has moderate tax, insurance and housing costs. So it isn’t likely to break freelancers’ bank accounts in any one area.


best cities for freelancers

Though housing costs and taxes are above average, Honolulu, Hawaii has just a 4 percent unemployment rate and a 6.4 percent self-employment rate.


best cities for freelancers

Low insurance costs top the list of reasons for Albuquerque, New Mexico making a great home for freelancers. In addition, Albuquerque has reasonable taxes and housing costs compared to other major cities.

San Antonio

best cities for freelancers

Like the other Texas cities on the list, lack of income taxes make San Antonio an attractive option for freelancers, along with reasonable housing and insurance costs.


best cities for freelancers

The first truly northern city on the list, Minneapolis, Minnesota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, along with reasonable health insurance prices.


best cities for freelancers

Wichita, Kansas offers extremely low housing costs, along with reasonable taxes and insurance prices.

Long Beach

best cities for freelancers

Long Beach, California doesn’t exactly offer the best rates for housing, taxes and insurance. But self-employed people do make up 7.6 percent of the workforce, so there’s a decent community of other freelancers in the area.


best cities for freelancers

This option is similar to Long Beach in many categories. But Fresno, California has a slightly lower cost of living and slightly higher self-employment rate.

Colorado Springs

best cities for freelancers

Colorado Springs, Colorado has relatively high housing costs, but it has reasonable taxes and insurance rates. And there is a 5.8 percent self-employment rate.


best cities for freelancers

Mesa, Arizona has reasonable rates for housing, taxes and insurance. And, like other cities on this list, the 5.1 percent self-employment rate both reflects an environment conducive to freelancers and a community on which they can lean for support.

Fort Worth

best cities for freelancers

Fort Worth has higher housing and insurance costs than some of the other Texas cities on the list. But it shares the lack of income taxes, making it a relatively attractive option.


best cities for freelancers

Tulsa, Oklahoma has a low cost of living and unemployment rate. If not for taxes and insurance, it would likely be higher on the list.

City Photo via Shutterstock, Other Images from Wikipedia

More in: 5 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

5 Reactions
  1. Salt Lake City and Boise, Idaho would also be great choices. They have good economies, low unemployment and lots of outdoors activities nearby.

  2. The American people need to begin their transition from being an employee to becoming self-employed/entrepreneur. Job losses due to outsourcing and globalization will continue and the invasion of robots and machines (automation) has begun to further destroy jobs.
    Author “The Art of Debt Guerrilla Warfare, how to beat debt collectors when your back is against the wall.”

    • I do think there is a lot of value in creating your own employment opportunities. The way people view traditional employment is definitely changing.

No, Thank You