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Best locations for freelancers revealed

Kevin Pratt

New research from MoneySuperMarket reveals the best locations across the UK for freelancers and Manchester tops the list, thanks to a thriving freelance industry and a high number of start-ups. Contributor Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket.

Freelancing is popular with those adopting the lifestyle, with 60 percent believing it’s a good career move. With the option of flexible hours, working from home and being your own boss, it’s no surprise that many people are turning to freelancing instead of the traditional nine to five for income. In light of the Self Assessment deadline this week (31st January 2018) leading price comparison website MoneySuperMarket has conducted a study looking at the best locations in the UK to freelance, with Manchester top of the list.

The research looked 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.

The best locations for freelancers to establish themselves are: Manchester – The North West city offers 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). Reasonable housing costs and plenty of wi-fi hotspots go towards making Manchester an ideal home for freelancers.

Brighton & Hove – Brighton & Hove is a centre for workers who like their independence, with the highest number of start-ups per capita after London (5,105), giving freelancers plenty of companies to get involved with.

Edinburgh – The Scottish capital offers a chance for freelancers to thrive, with a high average hourly rate of £29.50 and a high life satisfaction score of 7.59, indicating the great quality of life Edinburgh has to offer.

Belfast – Belfast’s strongest selling point is its high life satisfaction scores. Housing prices are also relatively low (£129,950) and the availability of wi-fi hotspots is high.

London – The UK capital still ranked within the top five cities, held back only by high local average property costs (£635,000) and a surprisingly low number of wi-fi hotspots in relation to the size of the population.

The research also uncovered the driving factors for those making the move to freelance and the benefits enjoyed: 58 percent of respondents cited flexible working hours as a key benefit of being freelance, with the average weekly working hours of freelancers surveyed being only 27 – 10.5 less than average fulltime work

An improved work-life balance, with 45 percent seeing it as a major advantage; Escaping the constraints of a company hierarchy, with 14 percent stating the desire to be their own boss as their biggest reason for going freelanc; 14 percent of those surveyed admitted to feeling their previous job was too stressful, indicating that emotional wellbeing played a role in the move

When asked their biggest concerns, the survey found that: Financial fears were the biggest worry for freelancers, with 46 percent saying that the lack of a steady income was the biggest fear about going freelance. When starting out, relying on their personal network for work was also a worry for many. In fact, 18 percent expressed concerns about finding their own clients and 38 percent worry about finding work now they are freelance; 39 percent stated that job security was one of their main concerns about being freelance.

Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, commented: “The freedom and flexibility of self-employment is clearly seductive enough to tempt people away from traditional jobs, but freelancers should remember that it also brings a lot of responsibility. Take accounting for tax – a freelancer has many tasks that a company employee doesn’t have to worry about.

“There’s also the management of personal finances. A freelancer doesn’t get sick pay or holiday pay, and doesn’t get commonplace employee benefits such as life insurance or critical illness cover – even though they need them just as much. So it’s crucial that freelancers think about the financial products they need and make sure they get the best possible value when buying them.

“Life insurance is a nailed-on essential for any freelancer that has dependants. It provides vital financial support in the event of the policyholder’s death, which can make a world of difference at what is inevitably a difficult time for those left behind.”