One of the best parts of being a solopreneur is that, in many cases, you can live where you want. With no office tying you down and 21st-century technology making it relatively simple to communicate with clients anywhere, freelancers often have their pick of cities.

But just because you can theoretically live wherever you choose doesn't mean some metropolitan areas aren't more freelancer-friendly than others. Besides personal factors like proximity to friends and family and preferred climate, solopreneurs need to weigh economic realities like cost of living, affordability of insurance, and in some cases, a community of fellow freelancers with whom to work (or simply hang out and draw inspiration).

So based on this sort of nuts-and-bolts logistical information, which cities should top the list as potential home bases for the self-employed? Zen99, a company that provides insurance and tax tools to freelancers, recently waded through a sea of data to find out, comparing cities on the cost of health insurance, housing costs, percentage of self-employed, unemployment rate, and tax rates. Which urban areas came out on top?

Here's the top ten. Do you notice any patterns emerging?

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Miami
  3. Houston
  4. Oklahoma City
  5. Dallas
  6. Nashville
  7. Portland
  8. Austin
  9. Oakland
  10. Tucson

Yup, that's right, east coast freelancers reading this ranking might feel a little left out (with the sunny exception of Miami). If you're a solo worker, the west appears to be where it's at. And as Gabe Rosenberg points out on blog The Freelancer, another similar ranking by NerdWallet also found Los Angeles to be top for independent workers.

Western cities are certainly worth a look for freelancers considering a relocation, but as Rosenberg points out, there are many aspects of choosing a new home base that these sorts of lists can't capture. L.A., for instance, has the highest percentage of freelancers in the country thanks to all those working in the film industry, but if your business has nothing to do with Hollywood, then the appeal of the place may be greatly reduced. "If you're not in film, and you don't have a lot of disposable income to spend on housing and insurance, then Los Angeles might not be the place for you," Rosenberg writes, pointing out that "the freelance economy is growing rapidly, and it's amazingly varied."

The bottom line? Take these rankings with a grain of salt--the data they're based on is highly useful to those weighing a move, but the choice of where to live is obviously hugely personal to you and your business.

Does the dominance of western cities in this ranking surprise you?

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Published on: Jan 15, 2015
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