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The best (and worst) places to live if you want to be independent


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By 2027, according to Statista, 86.5 million people in the United States will earn their living as freelancers, representing more than half of the American workforce. The pandemic has seen phenomenal growth in freelance careers, with 59 million people participating in the gig economy in 2020 compared to 53 million in 2014, according to a recent report by Tooltester.com.

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With delivery jobs for companies like UberEats and GrubHub — not to mention work-from-home opportunities for e-commerce customer service, freelance writing, marketing, web design and more — demand is growing, workers have had many opportunities to pursue an independent path.

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With the ability to work from anywhere being one of the main attractions of gig work, where are the best places to live if you want to be freelance?

Tooltester.com delved into this topic to find out some of the best cities to freelance based on factors like income tax rates and the cost of WiFi service. If you’re looking to move as a freelancer, you’ll also want to consider the cost of living in the area, including housing prices, and (if you plan to work in delivery or for a ride-sharing service) the cost of things like vehicle registration and insurance.

Here are some of the best places to live that combine freelancing opportunities with relatively low costs.

Dallas, TX

Tooltester.com ranked Dallas, Texas #1 for freelancers. The average cost of Wi-Fi is less than $100 ($92/month). The overall cost of living in Dallas is slightly higher than the US average, according to BestPlaces.net. The cost of health care is also lower than the national average, which can be beneficial for the self-employed who struggle with insurance coverage costs.

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The cost of home prices in Dallas is approaching the national average, with a lack of inventory exacerbating the problem. However, Texas does not have a state sales tax, which can make it easier to start your independent business in Dallas. The city is a hub for the tech industry, which can provide plenty of opportunities to build local relationships with customers if you enter a field like web design or online marketing. If you want to work in a service-based gig, you’ll find a large consumer base in Dallas’ 1.3 million residents.

Jacksonville, Florida

Like Texas, Florida has no state income tax, making it very self-employed friendly. Jacksonville also comes out on top in other respects. The overall cost of living is about 6% lower than the national average, while the median home price is just $231,800. You might be able to secure Xfinity WiFi for as little as $25 per month, based on quotes from Broadbandnow.com.

Keep in mind that if you are looking for a gig job in Jacksonville, you may be competing with students from the University of Jacksonville. However, if you can differentiate yourself with better availability, especially during school holidays, you can build a thriving business in virtually any freelance field.

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Memphis, TN

Of the top three cities for independents on the list, Memphis has the lowest cost of living. Tooltester quoted internet prices at just $78.17 per month, but where Memphis really shines is in its overall low cost of living — rated 29% cheaper than the US national average. Homeowners will save with the median home cost at just $123,800, 135% less than the national average of $291,700 cited by BestPlaces.net. Tennessee also has no state income tax and, as of 2021, also does not levy taxes on interest and dividend income, according to StateAsset.com.

The worst places to freelance in the US

When it comes to listing the worst places for freelance work, it’s hard to pinpoint specific cities. Most heavily populated US cities will have relatively affordable and fast Internet access, as well as easy access to shipping services like UPS and the Post Office.

You might want to avoid rural areas where you can’t get high-speed internet or have to pay extra money for satellite internet service or the new Starlink high-speed internet. The service costs $110 per month plus an upfront equipment fee of $599, according to multiple reports. However, rural areas may offer significantly lower housing costs (whether mortgage or rent) to offset this cost, particularly if your freelance work can be done remotely. . Some freelancers may also prefer a rural lifestyle over an urban lifestyle.

If you’re involved in making and selling crafts, jewelry, art, or other items, you’ll want to live in an area with easy access to a post office. You may also want to investigate urban and suburban areas that often host craft fairs and other events.

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If you’re planning to get into a field like delivery, ridesharing, or pet sitting, likewise, a populated area is probably best in terms of building a large customer base.

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About the Author

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketer with interests in finance, e-commerce, technology, and real estate. His long list of publishing credits includes Bankrate, Lending Tree and Chase Bank. She is the founder and owner of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel, technology and entertainment website. She lives in Long Island, New York, with a veritable menagerie that includes 2 cats, a rambunctious kitten and three lizards of different sizes and personalities – plus her two children and her husband. Find her on Twitter, @DawnAllcot.

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