More than a third of U.S. workers have ditched the traditional company career for a life of freelancing. And while being your own boss isn't for everyone -- it takes organization, discipline, and a certain amount of go-with-the-flow -- the benefits can be many.
Arguably one of the best benefits of a freelance career is that you typically aren't tied to any one location. This makes it easy to find the state that best suits your needs and wants, rather than your career goals.
Given the sheer size of the U.S., narrowing your options isn't easy. Here's a look at some of our top picks for places to settle as a freelancer.
Washington state is an ideal combination of nature and civilization, home to some of the most geologically diverse scenery in the country -- and some of the biggest technology companies in the world. Whether you want beaches, mountains, or all the Starbucks you can drink, you can find it here. And, even better, you can enjoy it all without the burden of state income tax weighing down your freelancing profits.
Those looking to escape the sky-high sales taxes in most states can head to Oregon, where there are no state or local sales taxes. You'll also enjoy some of the best infrastructure in the country, including a power system that is almost 50% based on renewables. You can find a vibrant technology sector in the state's major cities, or escape into the dynamic landscape featuring miles of coastline and abundant forests.
3. New Hampshire
Given that the New Hampshire state motto is, "Live free or die," it should come as no surprise the state is a great place to escape -- well, just about everything. Here, you can live free of both state income taxes and sales taxes, enjoying one of the lowest tax burdens in the country. New Hampshire residents can also live free of city trappings, with extensive wilderness to explore and some of the cleanest air around.
Freelancers who love the outdoors -- and who don't need to worry about meetings or networking -- can find a lot to love about Alaska. There's more outdoors here than just about anywhere else in the country, with all the winter sports you can handle, plus stunning (and stunningly short) summers. Alaska can also be great from a financial perspective, as you won't pay state income taxes or sales taxes. Plus, citizens can benefit from the state dividend program that offers checks to each resident every year.
Nevada is another popular destination for those who hate paying state income taxes, as there aren't any. But that's not the only draw. The infrastructure is solid, offering reliable transportation options and some of the fastest internet in the country. The state is also a great place for those who love the sun, with hot summers, moderate winters, and an average annual rainfall of just seven inches.
The state of Delaware has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country, offering low income taxes and no state sales tax. It's also a popular place to start a business thanks to limited bureaucratic hoops and strong business privacy rules. As far as lifestyle goes, Delaware is great for folks who like quieter cities, though it's an easy journey into Philadelphia or Washington, D.C. if you want to shake it up for the weekend.
If you're a tech-minded freelancer looking to make your mark, check out Colorado. The state is home to a number of major tech companies, and its entrepreneurial culture means startups are not only popular, but often successful. Plus, Colorado itself is a great place to live, especially if you're into outdoor adventure. The state offers some of the best skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing in the country.
Home to the country's largest economy, California is ideal for freelancers who rely on in-person clients or networking, especially for folks in the tech or entertainment industries. It's also popular among those looking for robust privacy and legal protections. And while California is known for its cuisine and urban culture, the moderate climate and diverse geography make all manner of outdoor adventures a year-round possibility.
No matter how they're judged, nearly every Best States list puts Massachusetts in the top 10. The state ranks well for quality of life, education, healthcare, crime, and environment. You get four proper seasons, beautiful landscapes, and lots of outdoor activities. Settle near Boston for the big-city life, or head to the western part of the state to enjoy small-town comfort.
Find the life you love
Freelancing is about more than your work -- it's a way of life. And that way of life takes a lot of work. But for the right type of person, the benefits more than make up for the lack of consistency of a traditional career.
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