This is the best UK city to be a freelancer – and it's not London

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Megan Murray
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New research has named a major UK city as the place to be for freelancers – and surprisingly, it’s not that capital. 

Millennials are swapping the traditional nine to five for flexible working more than ever before. Especially in the creative industries, 2D job descriptions are losing meaning as people juggle several projects and jobs alongside each other.

But if you’re looking to be your own boss, take advantage of opportunities in the creative industries or surround yourself with like-minded people, where’s the place to be?

Well, after noticing the increasing popularity for working freelance and ahead of ‘Work From Home Week’ (15-21 January), Money SuperMarket has conducted some research into which cities are most conducive for those looking to pursue a more flexible work life.

The research looks into the number of existing freelancers in 22 UK cities, the average rates they charge and the number of start-ups looking to utilise local freelancers. To assess the work-life balance of freelancers, the research also looked into local property costs, the number of wi-fi hotspots and coffee shops, as well as the general quality of life in the area.

Seeing as The Big Smoke is generally thought of as the central hub for most industries, you’d be forgiven for assuming that it would come top of the list.

But interestingly, according to this research, the reality is quite the opposite. The capital is lagging severely behind its Northern sisters, coming in at fifth place after Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast. 

The only other Southern city to make it into the list is Brighton, favoured for its high number of start-ups. 

Check out Money SuperMarket’s top five cities for being a freelancer below: 

1. Manchester

Manchester city centre 

Manchester has been big news for start-ups for years now, so it’s no great surprise that it’s loved by those looking to work freelance. Money SuperMarket says that it has the most active freelance economy outside London, with a high number of freelancers advertising and an average hourly rate equal to that in the capital (£30.00). But although opportunities are rife, housing costs are reasonable (unlike London) and there’s plenty of wi-fi hotspots.

2. Brighton & Hove

Brighton’s beach 

Brighton & Hove is said to be a great place for people who like their independence and it has the highest number of start-ups per capita after London (5,105), which gives freelancers plenty of companies to get involved with.  

3. Edinburgh 

The fair city of Edinburgh

Money SuperMarket rates Edinburgh highly for its excellent quality of life, reporting that the city has a high life satisfaction score of 7.59 which indicates a happy environment for freelancers to thrive. 

4. Belfast

Belfast city centre

Thanks to relatively low housing prices (you can buy a property for £129,950) and a high-quality lifestyle, Belfast has been named the fourth best place to live as a freelancer. For those working in cafes or co-working spaces, there are a lot of wi-fi hotspots with strong connections. 

5. London

The Big Smoke, London

Although London is bound to have fantastic networking opportunities and a plethora of opportunities, it’s severely held back by its extortionate house prices (averaging at (£635,000) and limited wi-fi hotspots, which compared to the size of the city, pale in comparison to Manchester. 

So if you’re looking to go freelance in 2018, make sure you’re utilising your online profiles on LinkedIn and social media, picking up extra skills and maybe think about relocating to one of the cities above.

Plus, check out our careers section for loads more badass advice.

Images: iStock


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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a senior digital writer for, who enjoys writing about homeware (particularly candles), travel, food trends, restaurants and all the wonderful things London has to offer.