I live in a relatively small town of 10,000 people. The adjoining metropolitan area has a population of 150,000 people. While there are opportunities here, they are not always easy to find.
When I decided to start freelancing, one of the biggest perks was being able to work with people who weren’t from around here. This gave me an opportunity to meet people that I’d never have a chance to interact with as well as to charge rates that people here would not be able to pay.
At one point in my career, I thought I’d need to move to the suburbs or a major city to achieve the goals I set for myself. Freelancing showed me that isn’t the case. In fact, I think being a freelancer in a small town has more perks than being a freelancer in a big city. Here’s why freelancing supports small town living.
Bigger opportunities and more of them
Freelancing, or even just working from home, opens the door for more opportunities than local job hunting. You can work for any company, located anywhere in the world, from the comfort of your home office.
Freelancing allows you to work with many different companies and learn their best practices. This gives you an opportunity to advance your skills, offer more services, and demand higher pay.
Freelancing in a small town means you aren’t limited to working in the companies or industries in your area. You are able to apply for remote positions around the world; all you need is a reliable internet connection. Freelancing will give you access to bigger opportunities than your town can offer.
Often it can be difficult to find a job in a small town because the competition for one position can be high. In an area with a high unemployment rate, there are potentially hundreds of people applying for the same position. As a freelancer, location doesn’t matter. You are able to apply for the jobs that directly relate to your skills regardless of where you are living. This gives you a much larger pool of opportunities to draw from.
Typically, a company or individual will gear their budget to the cost of living in their area. If you live in an area with a low cost of living, like myself, you will get the benefit of your money stretching further than someone in a higher cost of living area.
When I work for a San Francisco based company, I am paid San Francisco wages even though I live in a much cheaper area. A marketing person making the average $75-$100K per year there may have trouble making ends meet, whereas the same salary where I live would be almost double the median household income.
Your quality of life can be a lot higher while freelancing in a small town than it would be in a big city.
Better job security
In some cases, you will have more job security while freelancing because your job is not tied to your local economy. For a person that lives in an area where things aren’t going too well, that’s a great thing. My town routinely has businesses close their doors and large companies leave the area. This has been devastating to some families. Having a location independent job, like freelancing, can prevent the local economy from affecting your family.
Many of the companies I work for are based in up and coming areas where business is booming. I get the benefit of their expanding economy without having to move there.
One of the best (and potentially worst) places to find freelancing work is out of Silicon Valley.
Often startups provide awesome benefits and pay, but the jobs can be gone in the blink of an eye. Five months after I left the startup Zirtual, they imploded and over 400 people lost their jobs. Thankfully, many of my former coworkers were able to take their skills and start their own virtual assistant businesses.
That said, job security is not guaranteed with any company in any city. Freelancing allows you to work in different cities while minimizing the risk of their economies. It also allows you to have multiple income streams coming in so that one client quitting will not kill your business.
Exposure to trends
Finally, a non-monetary benefit to freelancing while living in a small town is exposure to trends you may not have heard about otherwise.
Things that are popular on the coasts often don’t make it to the Midwest for months or even years. Freelancing allows me to stay on top of business and popular trends. I can use this information to appeal to clients in larger metropolitan areas without actually living there. This knowledge allows me to keep my rates competitive with those freelancing in bigger cities.
Freelancing is a great option for those who live in small towns. You get the benefits of bigger city wages, opportunities, exposure, and job security without giving up the community and space to roam. If you live in a small town, before you think about moving to a big city to pursue your dreams, give freelancing a try!