One of the greatest perks of being a freelancer is having the freedom to move around and decide where you want to live. But what makes a city a desirable place to call home as a freelance designer? We looked at a few factors such as cost of living, city growth rate of designers, and percentage of freelancers to full-time designers to bring you a list of top 7 cities for nomad designers.
7. Berlin, Germany
Shots from the Berlin community.
There’s always something going on in Berlin. The city is a cultural hub with world-renowned museums, universities and historical landmarks. But just because it’s a huge urban city doesn’t mean it lacks in greenery. Forests, parks, gardens and rivers are scattered around the city for nice strolls outdoors. In the last couple decades, Berlin has also seen a growing entrepreneurial scene - so if you’re looking to start your freelance career, this could be a great place to consider!
“Berlin is a city of contrasts, where the old meets the new and history meets technology. It’s very inspiring to live in this contrasting environment - it gives the city a very unique and creative vibe. Berlin is great to meet other creatives. There are many freelancers and it’s quite easy to find big or small events to meet up and connect with other people working in your field.”
6. Montreal, Canada
Shots from the Montreal community.
Many like to call Montreal the cultural hub of Canada because it’s a booming center for television, theatre, film and multimedia. It’s no wonder Montreal was named a UNESCO City of Design in 2006. With that being said, there’s tons to do in the city when it comes to exhibitions, festivals, dining, and art galleries.
“I love freelancing in Montreal because there are many opportunities. Being a bilingual city, there are two different markets to work for (for example, I work on French children books and special commissions for the Globe and Mail). Also, Montreal is a city that puts a lot of emphasis on design. Being a UNESCO city of design, there are many initiatives that encourage the designers from this city. I believe there is a big place for design in Montreal and also a vast array of opportunities.”
5. Dallas, Texas
Shots from the Dallas community.
Dallas is a large metropolitan city located in northeast Texas. It’s fast growing population is greatly due to the growing tech and financial industries and of course the affordable real estate! Because Dallas is such a populated city, there’s no shortage in restaurants, shops, museums, and other attractions to explore. In recent years, Dallas has also developed a 68-acre Arts District which has become the largest urban arts district in the United States!
“I really enjoy working in Dallas… there’s a pretty strong smaller-scale design community here, and a lot of freelancers whose work I’ve admired for years that I didn’t even realize are based in Dallas. Definitely some hidden gems here. It’s perhaps not what you immediately think of when you think of a design-centric city, but I love that. It means that I’m not too surrounded by good design that it informs my work too much. I also love how the kind of low-brow Texas and southwestern culture creeps into the work coming out of here. It keeps design accessible and fun!”
4. Stockholm, Sweden
Shots from the Stockholm community.
Stockholm is a city made up of 14 islands on the eastern coast of Sweden. Waterfront cafes, bars, and parks are spread across the city and are ideal places to wander around if you’re looking for some fresh air and a nice view. Stockholm is also a city that has a high appreciation for art and culture. The city has over 100 museums and the majority of their metro stations are decorated with paintings, mosaics, and sculptures.
“You can find interesting design everywhere in Stockholm because it’s part of the culture. Clients and the public keep high standards, curiosity and an open mind for what they want to see and experience. I appreciate and love this and I don’t have to go too far for coffee shops with amazing interiors to work from.”
3. Cape Town, South Africa
Shots from the Cape Town community.
Cape Town is South Africa’s capital and largest city. Many like to call it the most beautiful city in the world which isn’t surprising considering the city sits between stunning mountain ranges and ocean. If nature is a big source of inspiration for you, Cape Town may be an ideal place to live. As South Africa’s oldest city, Cape Town also has a ton of history which you can learn about in all of it’s museums and memorials spread across the city.
“Cape Town is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but also a creative hub and home to many artists. It has a unique blend of history, music and arts woven into the very fibre of the city’s culture. Needless to say, there is no dearth of top notch illustration, animation and design studios that produce award-winning work, which ensures a healthy level of competition and innovation in the various creative fields. Cape Town is a dream come true for every aspiring freelancer with plenty of work opportunities. The loving people of Cape Town are hard working and driven not only to succeed, but also to better others, which makes this journey as a freelancer even more exciting.”
2. São Paulo, Brazil
Shots from the São Paulo community.
São Paulo is a large metropolitan city located in the Southeast region of Brazil. As the world’s 5th most populous city, it has a thriving economy and highly international population. If you’re into urban settings, São Paulo may be the place for you. The city is known for its architecture (tons of skyscrapers), variety of restaurants, and active nightlife. Not to mention São Paulo has an awesome street art scene!
“I love São Paulo because it’s a big city. As a freelancer working from home, sometimes we need to go outside, see people, interact, and here we have a lot of different coffee shops and co-working spaces. I love grabbing a coffee and working in a space with different people. São Paulo is also a multicultural city with creative people everywhere. There’s a lot of startups and great opportunities.”
1. Salt Lake City, Utah
Shots from the Salt Lake City community.
First on the list is Salt Lake City, Utah. If you’re looking for a place that has both an urban and outdoor lifestyle, you’ve got the best of both worlds here. Residents who live in the city center are still in driving distance to a variety of National Parks and ski resorts. It’s no wonder freelancers are flocking here since it’s considered a very affordable place to live and offers the kind of balanced lifestyle many people seek!
“Salt Lake City is like a hidden, mini, hipster paradise (and I say that while twiddling my beard and adjusting my bow-tie). Food, music, dogs, record/thrift stores — it’s all here. The truth is though, I work from my a chair in my house . . . so if you want to know what it’s like to “work from Salt Lake”, you might need to come visit. :)”