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Four Cities at the Forefront of the Gig Economy

Gig economy

While many freelancers operate remotely, there are undeniable local advantages for gig opportunities in certain major cities. 

Successful companies like Uber, Airbnb, and DoorDash got their start in cities which are conducive to innovation, that attract individuals who thrive in an economy based on creativity and originality. 

Below we explore which cities may be better than others when it comes to succeeding in the freelance world.

1. San Francisco, California

San Francisco can be called the headquarters of the gig economy, with many successful on-demand workforce companies, including heavyweights and bitter rivals Uber and Lyft.

According to the city controller’s report, ‘The Gig Economy in San Francisco,” approximately 27% of the workforce in SF is self-employed. Professional services, arts, construction, and finance thrive in the city.

SF has reached a tipping where a vast population is using services provided by freelancers on a regular basis. More than simply part of the economy, it’s part of the culture.


2. Austin, Texas

Austin is another gig economy pioneer, boasting the most non-employer employment between 2012-2014. It’s the HQ of the home-rental company HomeAway and  Many other companies in Central Texas are shifting their focus to freelance workers, substituting the traditional full-time system.

Austin has shown remarkable progress with respect to the freelance workforce.


3. Boston, Massachusetts

 Boston has been able to capitalize on enthusiastic investors,  an inclination towards technology, and an unmatched collection of universities for a city its size.  TaskRabbit, amongst other companies, has made Boston a mecca for independent contractors.

 Boston’s government has also encouraged the growth of its gig economy because it brings more resources and people to the city. 

According to a report in Metro Daily News, about 60 percent of gig workers who left traditional employment in Massachusetts earned more freelancing. This state has been instrumental in designing venture capital funding systems which have given way to several tech, computer and bio firms. 

4. Chicago, Illinois

The windy city provides a thriving environment for start-ups which leads to more contractor based projects. Angel List has a list of almost 2000 Chicago start-ups that rely on freelancers and contractors for short projects. Chicago has long been a hub for many industries for years because of it’s location next to lake Michigan and proximity to the Mississippi river. It only makes sense to continue the trend in modern times.  


The gig economy is spreading across the nation and is by no means limited though it thrives in more concentrated metro areas. But, the trend is catching on in rural areas as well. Smaller cities may also be more conducive to certain startups or freelancer who may have a harder go at it in larger cities, where competition is fierce.

For example, An article published by the gig economy based platform Thumbtack released a list of the 20 cities that favor this new trend.  

Adoption of digital platform by city



Undoubtedly, San Francisco bagged the first place followed by Palm Bay in Florida and Chicago.

Among cities on the east coast, the list included Boston, Washington DC, Charlottesville, Raleigh, Madison, Champaign, Durham, and Ann Arbor.

Central regions of the country include Denver and Fort Collins in Colorado.

West coast cities included San Diego, Seattle, San Jose, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.


In conclusion

The Gig economy is definitely spreading far and wide. Of course, big cities seem like the natural place to move to as a fledgling freelancer or entrepreneur with a dream.

But there are other factors such as location, politics, and competition that should be factored into your plans before you move away from your comfort zone.

However, one of the best aspects of the gig economy is that it encourages remote work, which means you may be able to work for a startup in San Francisco 3,000 miles away in New York. 


Image sources: a.fastcompany.net, thumbtack.com, sftravel.com, i.yochicago.com, cdn.mntm.me
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