Top UK cities for freelancers
Top UK cities for freelancers

Top UK cities for freelancers

These days of course, many freelance jobs can be completed remotely, but you still need to choose a base camp and surely it makes sense to pick a city that has the right kind of vibe for freelancers?

There’s no point moving somewhere you’re not going to find work, so let’s take a look at the best UK cities for freelancers.


As the home of the BBC’s headquarters in Salford since 2012, Manchester is a hotspot for media links and boasts a thriving tech scene. It’s the second most populated urban area in the UK and hosts a booming arts and media scene with several large performance venues. You can already see why Manchester is an attractive prospect for freelancers.

Of course, you can’t talk about Manchester without mentioning the music! The music scene here has always had a reputation for being both huge and diverse, ever since the 80’s and the rise of the ‘Madchester’ scene.

With numerous large music venues showcasing emerging talents as well as celebrating esteemed acts, Manchester should be the unrivalled go-to city for freelancers with a keen interest in music and the arts.


Okay, now this isn’t going to surprise anyone. As the UK’s capital, London is certainly going to make a list of top cities for anything!

London is the kind of city that eats, sleeps and breathes creativity, with quirky areas like Shoreditch and Camden pulsating with arts and media. Off the wall ventures and all manner of tech (and non-tech) startups are popping up at a crazy rate. The variety of gigs almost eclipses pretty much every other city in the UK, especially when it comes to the sheer number of opportunities available.

The thing is, London has such a dense population, it creates a bigger pool of talent, meaning the competition isn’t just fierce, it’s positively savage. So if you’re prepared to work hard (there’s no such thing as a lazy freelancer!) then make a go of it; you’re bound to find a variety of freelance work here.


This multicultural city’s creative talent pool is also pretty deep, with strong ties to the many universities and other educational establishments in the area. Although this provides the city’s creative industry with a steady flow of talent, there’s enough work to go around with almost 6,000 tech firms alone in the area.

If you’re into game development, this is the place to be in the UK. Twenty-five per cent of the UK’s gaming workforce is based in Birmingham, there’s also a large number digital tech companies boosting the region’s economy by over £1.6 billion every year.

On top of the gaming and creative industries, there’s been a massive boom in startup ventures in the past few years - so it’s no wonder Start-Up Britain named Greater Birmingham the UK’s most entrepreneurial city outside of London.


The Welsh capital is the UK's second largest media hub, just behind London. BBC Wales, S4C and ITV Wales - to mention the major players - find their homes in Cardiff. In addition to those big names, there’s also a thriving independent TV production industry with over 600 firms, employing around 6,000 people, and contributing £350 million to the Welsh economy.

Combine these opportunities with cheaper living costs and you have the perfect formula for freelancing success.

You’re also well within travelling distance of Wales’s second largest city, Swansea. Just an hour away on the train from Cardiff, Swansea offers a thriving tech and business scene, ideal for freelancers to plunge right into.


Bristol is renowned for its innovative and creative culture. One of the most industrial places in the country, the city actually has an edge over London for tech work, offering the highest rate for contractors in the cloud sector, at £520 per day.

Bristol is home to a great number of colleges and universities thanks to its links with neighbouring city Bath. A large percentage of graduates stay in the region, which further solidifies its reputation as one of the best places to live and work in the UK.

The digital industry here is also thriving, particularly among graphic designers and illustrators, but also for gaming, web and mobile developers.

Start-ups are supported by incubators such as SETsquared and WebStart Bristol and numerous events run by Bristol Media, Bath Digital Festival, TechSPARK and others make Bristol a great all-rounder for freelancers.

We’re not telling you to pack-up and move away if you’re already settled, but if you’re thinking of relocating to better facilitate your freelancing career, these are some of the best places to start looking.

Whether you end up freelancing in one of these awesome cities, or elsewhere, Penny gets you paid on the terms that suit you


Lynne Gowers

Lynne Gowers

Lynne is a highly experienced marketing and communications professional and leads the team here at Penny. LinkedIn.

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