Top 20 U.S. Cities for Freelance Designers

June 10, 2016

4:08 pm

Are you a self-employed designer? Thinking of becoming one?

The Professional Association for Design has released a collection of metrics — percentages of high salaries, the number of other freelancers, the median rent, and average health insurance costs — to figure out the top cities.

The top three are all in the same state: Los Angeles, CA, followed by Oakland, with San Francisco coming in third. After them, there’s a large drop in expected salary (offset by the also lowered living expenses). Here’s the rest of the top options for your career-boosting move:

1. Los Angeles, CA
2. Oakland, CA
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Portland, OR
5. Miami, FL
6. Tulsa, OK
7. Detroit, MI
8. Saint Paul, MN
9. Denver, CO
10. Greensboro, NC
11. Minneapolis, MN
12. Atlanta, GA
13. Seattle, WA
14. New York City, NY
15. Dallas, TX
16. Long Beach, CA
17. Nashville, TN
18. Cincinnati, OH
19. Chicago, IL
20. Mesa, AZ

AGIA goes into their methodology over here, including where they got their stats and how heavily they weighted them when compiling the final list. It’s all fairly recent (most noteworthy is the insurance data, from 2015), so the list seems like a good place for the modern freelance designer to turn when looking up which cities will be the best for their lifestyle.

Additional data comes up with similar results for salaried designers as well as freelancers, as Invision‘s recent report on product design proves. It polled 1657 designers in 468 cities.

After pulling all the data together, Invision was able to determine which cities offer the most compensation for design work in general. Of the designers who earn over $125,000 annually, 88 percent live in the U.S. and 57 percent live in California. Of those in the U.S.,  a whopping 62 percent are in San Francisco, making it a top destination for designers by any standards. As long as they can handle that rent, that is.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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