The cost, both financial and emotional, of being a freelancer is high. If you live in a big city with high taxes and even higher stress, the cost can be down right frightening.
Freelancers don’t have an employer to provide medical benefits, and there’s no company matching retirement account contributions. Even worse, freelancers have to absorb the entire 15% self-employment tax themselves. With so many expenses to consider, it’s important for freelancers to find ways to do more with less — and that may include leaving a high-price-tag city.
Why should freelancers consider leaving megacities?
I recently moved from New York City to Dallas for one main reason: to put myself in a better financial situation.
I realized I was paying to live in a city I actually didn’t need to be in. Besides, most of my clients are international and the few I have in NYC don’t require in-person meetings.
“Why am I paying to live here, and what else could I be doing with that money?” I found myself asking nearly every day.
I felt like I was working against myself. It can be difficult to grow a business when you have to spend all your money on rent and taxes instead of reinvesting it into your brand. So, I decided to try a new adventure and focus on all the pros that come with leaving a big city: lower taxes, more space, and the opportunity to network with a new crowd.
This is the most obvious reason for freelancers, or anyone really, to leave a big city. As a New Yorker, I paid nearly 10 percent in New York state income tax, plus NYC tax, federal tax, and self-employment tax. Then there’s high property taxes and high sales tax, all of which made it nearly impossible to save a decent amount of money that could put a dent in my debt and allow me to reinvest into growing my freelance business.
Take a second to consider the amount of money you could save just by moving to a city/state with lower taxes. According to Smart Asset, a person making $100,000/year would pay about $32,000 in taxes if they lived in New York and just $23,000 in taxes if they lived in Texas. That’s $9,000 per year… and you’d be lying if you said you couldn’t find a good use for that money.
Higher standard of living
Aside from being expensive, megacities can also be hectic. There tends to be more overcrowding, more traffic, longer wait times at restaurants, higher car insurance rates, and the list goes on.
Moving from a big city can not only save you a lot of money, but it can also lower your stress level. Freelancers would be wise to welcome this combination of lower prices and less stress given that we have enough to stress over already!
Opportunity to network with new people
Moving to a new city, albeit smaller, opens up the door to new networking opportunities, and that means more leads and clients down the road. For me, moving to Dallas from NYC has actually been a great conversation starter.
“Why’d you move to Dallas from there?” someone asked.
“Because I’m ready for more opportunity and I’m fortunate enough to be a remote worker,” I responded.”And how is it that you work remotely?” they replied.
The conversation that ensued included a brief explanation about how I got into freelancing, who my clients are, why business owners are smart to hire freelancers, why there’s never been a better time to freelance, and an exchange of LinkedIn profiles.
Many people think all the good leads are in the biggest cities. Personally, I found a good lead because I left one.
The bottom line
Freelance life can be hectic and expensive, but there are ways to make it better. To make life easier, freelancers should consider leaving megacities to help reduce expenses and alleviate some stress at the same time.
Originally published at christianlowery.com on July 2, 2019.