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Are you a freelancer seeking a small city escape where you can pursue your career dreams? 

Look no further! We’ve crunched the numbers and evaluated over 600 cities to reveal the top 10 hidden gems for freelancers in small cities across America. These lesser-known cities offer a unique combination of affordability, a conducive work environment, employment opportunities, and a captivating natural backdrop. 

Whether you desire an artsy community, breath-taking landscapes, or a thriving entrepreneurial spirit, these small cities have it all. Get ready to discover the perfect blend of tranquillity, inspiration, and professional growth as we showcase the small cities that provide the ideal haven for freelancers looking to thrive in their careers.
 

How We Determined Our List

 
To determine the top 10 small cities for freelancers, we considered key factors crucial for freelance success. 

We assessed each city’s affordability, work environment, employment opportunities, and the overall quality of life. Our team compiled data on cost of living, coffee shop availability, Wi-Fi speed, job market strength, and natural beauty. 

Each city was then assigned an index score in each category, with higher scores indicating better suitability for freelancers. By analyzing and comparing these scores, we identified the top 10 hidden gems that offer freelancers an optimal blend of professional opportunities, affordable living, a supportive work environment, and natural splendor.
 

The Top 10 Small Cities in America for Freelancers

 

1. Ithaca, New York

 

  • Affordability Index: 8.4
  • Work Environment Index: 8.7
  • Employment Index: 8.2
  • Quality Of Life Index: 9.1

Ithaca, NY, a hidden gem for freelancers, offers a vibrant and inspiring environment nestled in the Finger Lakes region. With an affordability index of 8.4, freelancers can enjoy a reasonable cost of living while immersing themselves in a dynamic work environment. Boasting a work environment index of 8.7, freelancers can find an abundance of coffee shops and reliable Wi-Fi connections to fuel their productivity.

What sets Ithaca apart is its stunning natural beauty, earning it a remarkable quality of live index of 9.1. Surrounded by gorges, waterfalls, and scenic trails, freelancers in Ithaca can find inspiration in the breathtaking landscapes that enhance their work-life balance.
 
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2. Lawrence, Kansas

 

  • Affordability Index: 9.1
  • Work Environment Index: 8.9
  • Employment Index: 8.3
  • Quality Of Life Index: 8.7

Lawrence, Kansas, is a city that offers freelancers a unique blend of affordability and a thriving work environment. With an affordability index of 9.1, freelancers can enjoy a low cost of living without compromising on quality. The city boasts a work environment index of 8.9, indicating a robust coffee shop culture and reliable Wi-Fi connections for freelancers to thrive.

What sets Lawrence apart is its vibrant arts and music scene, contributing to a quality of life index of 8.7. Freelancers can tap into the city’s creative energy while immersing themselves in the intellectual atmosphere fostered by the presence of the University of Kansas. Lawrence truly offers freelancers an ideal setting to pursue their professional aspirations.
 
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3. Athens, Georgia

 

  • Affordability Index: 8.6
  • Work Environment Index: 8.8
  • Employment Index: 8.4
  • Quality Of Life Index: 8.9

Athens, Georgia, is a great city for freelancers, offering an enticing combination of affordability and a vibrant work environment. With an affordability index of 8.6, freelancers can enjoy a cost-effective lifestyle without compromising on quality. The city boasts a work environment index of 8.8, indicating a rich and diverse arts and culture scene, creating a thriving atmosphere for creative professionals.

Athens also offers a range of coffee shops and reliable Wi-Fi connections, supporting freelancers in their productivity. With a quality of life index of 8.9, freelancers can draw inspiration from the city’s picturesque surroundings and immerse themselves in a community known for its music, arts, and southern charm. Athens is a true hidden gem for freelancers looking to excel in their careers.
 
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4. Fayetteville, Arkansas

 

  • Affordability Index: 8.3
  • Work Environment Index: 8.6
  • Employment Index: 8.5
  • Quality Of Life Index: 8.8

Fayetteville, Arkansas, is a city that provides freelancers with an ideal blend of affordability and a thriving work environment. With an affordability index of 8.3, freelancers can enjoy a reasonable cost of living while maximizing their earnings. The city boasts a work environment index of 8.6, indicating a supportive entrepreneurial spirit and a range of coffee shops equipped with reliable Wi-Fi connections. What sets Fayetteville apart is its natural beauty, including the nearby Ozark Mountains, contributing to a quality of life index of 8.8.

Freelancers in Fayetteville can find inspiration in the stunning landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities that enhance their work-life balance. With its affordability and captivating surroundings, Fayetteville is a great place for freelancers to thrive professionally.
 
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5. Flagstaff, Arizona

 

  • Affordability Index: 8.2
  • Work Environment Index: 8.7
  • Employment Index: 7.9
  • Quality Of Life Index: 8.8

Flagstaff, Arizona, is a hidden gem for freelancers, offering a unique combination of affordability and a favorable work environment. With an affordability index of 8.2, freelancers can enjoy a cost-effective lifestyle while benefiting from the city’s amenities. Flagstaff boasts a work environment index of 8.7, indicating a thriving coffee shop culture and reliable Wi-Fi connections that cater to freelancers’ needs.

What sets Flagstaff apart is its proximity to natural wonders such as the Grand Canyon, contributing to a quality of life index of 8.8. Freelancers in Flagstaff can find inspiration in the breathtaking landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities, making it an ideal location to strike a harmonious balance between work and nature.
 
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6. Bellingham, Washington

 

  • Affordability Index: 7.9
  • Work Environment Index: 8.9
  • Employment Index: 8.1
  • Quality Of Life Index: 9.0

Bellingham, Washington, is a great choice for freelancers, offering a perfect blend of affordability and a thriving work environment. With an affordability index of 7.9, freelancers can enjoy a relatively affordable cost of living while enjoying the city’s amenities. Bellingham boasts a work environment index of 8.9, indicating a robust coffee shop culture and reliable Wi-Fi connections that support freelancers’ productivity.

What sets Bellingham apart is its picturesque setting near the beautiful Puget Sound, contributing to a quality of life index of 9.0. Freelancers in Bellingham can find inspiration in the stunning natural surroundings and enjoy a close-knit community that fosters creativity and collaboration. Bellingham truly offers freelancers a delightful mix of affordability, work-life balance, and natural beauty.
 
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7. Eugene, Oregon

 

  • Affordability Index: 8.1
  • Work Environment Index: 8.5
  • Employment Index: 8.3
  • Quality Of Life Index: 8.7

Eugene, Oregon, is a gem that offers freelancers a unique combination of affordability and a vibrant work environment. With an affordability index of 8.1, freelancers can enjoy a reasonable cost of living without compromising their budgets. Eugene boasts a work environment index of 8.5, indicating a thriving arts and culture scene that fuels creativity.

Freelancers can find numerous coffee shops and reliable Wi-Fi connections, ensuring a conducive work environment. What sets Eugene apart is its proximity to the Willamette River and its surrounding natural beauty, contributing to a quality of life index of 8.7. Freelancers can find inspiration in the serene landscapes and outdoor recreational opportunities that Eugene has to offer, making it an ideal destination for professional growth and work-life balance.
 
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8. San Luis Obispo, California

 

  • Affordability Index: 7.6
  • Work Environment Index: 8.6
  • Employment Index: 8.0
  • Quality Of Life Index: 9.2

San Luis Obispo, California, is a great city for freelancers, offering a delightful blend of affordability and a supportive work environment. With a cost of living index of 7.6, freelancers can enjoy a relatively affordable lifestyle in this coastal city. San Luis Obispo boasts a work environment index of 8.6, indicating a thriving community of coffee shops and reliable Wi-Fi connections to foster productivity.

What sets San Luis Obispo apart is its enchanting environment, earning an impressive quality of life index score of 9.2. With its picturesque coastal location, mild climate, and stunning beaches, freelancers can find inspiration and enjoy a harmonious work-life balance. San Luis Obispo is an ideal location for freelancers looking to thrive professionally while savoring the beauty of California’s central coast.
 
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9. Gainesville, Florida

 

  • Affordability Index: 8.7
  • Work Environment Index: 8.4
  • Employment Index: 8.2
  • Quality Of Life Index: 8.5

Gainesville, Florida, is a gem for freelancers, offering a winning combination of affordability and a supportive work environment. With an affordability index of 8.7, freelancers can enjoy a cost-effective lifestyle without compromising on quality. Gainesville boasts a work environment index of 8.4, indicating a thriving community of coffee shops and reliable Wi-Fi connections, providing freelancers with a conducive work atmosphere.

What sets Gainesville apart is its vibrant arts scene and the presence of the University of Florida, contributing to a quality of life index of 8.5. Freelancers in Gainesville can tap into a creative energy and enjoy a rich cultural backdrop that inspires their work. With its affordability and artistic vibe, Gainesville is a city for freelancers looking for a supportive and stimulating environment.
 
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10. Columbia, Missouri

 

  • Affordability Index: 8.8
  • Work Environment Index: 8.3
  • Employment Index: 8.5
  • Quality Of Life Index: 8.6

Columbia, Missouri, is a great option for freelancers, offering a unique combination of affordability and a thriving work environment. With an affordability index of 8.8, freelancers can enjoy a reasonable cost of living without breaking the bank. Columbia boasts a work environment index of 8.3, indicating a vibrant community of coffee shops and reliable Wi-Fi connections that cater to freelancers’ needs.

What sets Columbia apart is its dynamic creative scene and the presence of the University of Missouri, contributing to a quality of life index of 8.6. Freelancers in Columbia can benefit from a supportive and collaborative atmosphere that fosters professional growth and innovation. With its affordability and creative energy, Columbia is a gem for freelancers seeking a conducive environment to excel in their careers.
 
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Conclusion

 
These small cities offer freelancers a harmonious blend of affordability, supportive work environments, promising employment opportunities, and captivating natural surroundings. 

Each city on this list provides a unique atmosphere that fosters creativity and inspiration. Whether you seek affordability, cultural vibrancy, or breathtaking landscapes, these top 10 hidden gems are excellent choices for freelancers looking to thrive in a small city environment.
 

The Data – The Top 10 Small Cities in America for Freelancers

 

City Affordability Index Work Environment Index Employment Index Quality Of Life Index
Ithaca, NY 8.4 8.7 8.2 9.1
Lawrence, KS 9.1 8.9 8.3 8.7
Athens, GA 8.6 8.8 8.4 8.9
Fayetteville, AR 8.3 8.6 8.5 8.8
Flagstaff, AZ 8.2 8.7 7.9 8.8
Bellingham, WA 7.9 8.9 8.1 9.0
Eugene, OR 8.1 8.5 8.3 8.7
San Luis Obispo, CA 7.6 8.6 8.0 9.2
Gainesville, FL 8.7 8.4 8.2 8.5
Columbia, MO 8.8 8.3 8.5 8.6

 

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Justine Gray

Justine Gray is a contributor to Pheabs, sharing more than 10 years of experience in the consumer finance industry across the US. Follow her guides for financial advice, money saving tips and more. Follow them on Linkedin and Youtube.