If you’ve heard the words ‘gig economy’ thrown around lately, it’s with good reason: studies estimate that by 2020, 40% of the workforce will be made up of freelancers. Working from gig to gig offers workers many appealing perks, among them a flexible schedule and the ability to work from anywhere. One of the greatest benefits of working remotely is the freedom to live anywhere, but many freelancers are flocking to Colorado — in large part because of the quality of life around the state.
Why Colorado Might Be the Best State to Be a Freelancer
From beautiful outdoor spaces to an entrepreneurial culture, here's why people who can work from anywhere are flocking to Colorado.
With 300 days of sunshine a year, diverse outdoor activities, and low unemployment rate, Colorado makes a great option for freelancers. Though metro area real estate prices are high, communities outside Denver, like Castle Rock and Pueblo, have more reasonable options. Longmont is poised to be a leader in artisan food and drink products. Fort Collins has been steadily expanding over the last decade, and now offers much more than the university at its core, from eating to entertainment.
Wondering where to put down roots (even temporarily, as many gig economy workers do)? Here are some more reasons why Colorado is the best place in the nation to be a freelancer right now:
1. Colorado Is a Hotbed of Corporate Headquarters
Google opened its campus last year near Boulder, adding between 800-1,500 employees; the state is in the running as a possible location for an Amazon fulfillment center (which would bring some 50,000 jobs the metro area); and British Petroleum’s Denver HQ will employ 200 workers. Colorado is also home to the headquarters of DaVita Kidney Care, Ball (yes, the mason jar company), Red Robin, Frontier Airlines, and Core Power Yoga.
Other leading employers include freelancer-friendly resorts like Vail Resorts and Winter Park, the health care industry — Colorado-based Centura Health, UC Health and CU Medical School all employ thousands of Coloradans — and the education and university system, several of which are among the top 100 employers in the state. Colorado’s job market is booming — its unemployment rate, at 2.7%, is the third lowest in the country.
Whether you're looking for a side job with benefits to augment your freelance work or local companies to add to your client list, you won't have trouble tracking down opportunities here.
2. Multi-Generational Living
The old model of living was pretty simple: you grow up, get a job, and move out. But in recent years there's been a marked shift in how we live. Multi-generational living — defined as two generations of adults and can include grandchildren — is cropping up in record numbers: some 64 million Americans (that’s 20% of the population) are living with either their parents, or as Baby Boomers age, with their children.
In fact, home builders are beginning to design homes specifically for the multi-generational living set up. In Colorado, developers like Richmond and Lennar have built communities to accommodate families in Parker and Stapleton. Summit County, Colorado, also has the highest life expectancy in the country, at 87 years old, likely due to the active lifestyle employed by many residents of the state.
What does this mean for freelancers? Not only is Colorado a great place to live at home while you hone your craft, it's also a place that's open to nontraditional living and working arrangements.
3. Creative Communities
Beyond the Denver metro area’s Santa Fe, River North (aka RiNo) and Golden Triangle Arts Districts, there are 18 other state-designated creative districts in Colorado. These communities host artists-in-residence, first Friday gallery tours and workshops among other events.
Creative communities can be found in Trinidad, Mancos, Carbondale, Steamboat Springs, and other small towns across the state. In addition, the Denver metro area has a thriving museum scene, including the Clyfford Still Museum, Denver Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, with more museums in Boulder and Colorado Springs.
4. Outdoor Activities
It goes without saying that one of Colorado’s biggest draws is its vibrant outdoors scene. Year-round, residents can enjoy all kinds of activities in the fresh air and sunshine. Winter months are great for skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing and sledding. In warmer seasons, hiking, mountaineering, golfing, mountain biking, fishing and lake activities are all popular. Colorado also has professional baseball, football, soccer, hockey and basketball teams for those who enjoy being the spectator.
For freelancers who make their own schedule, living in a place where you can easily access hiking trails, rivers and parks is a perk that's hard to put a price on.
5. Startups & Entrepreneurial Culture
Colorado has been called the next Silicon Valley, with loads of tech startups collecting funding every year at Denver Startup Week. The state has long been the home of established tech companies like Comcast, Lockheed Martin and Oracle, but sites like Built in Colorado now act as a catalog of new startups looking for workers. On the hunt for co-working space and networking opportunities? Check out the 20,000 square-foot building known as Commons on Champa, which offers public workspace and event space for entrepreneurs.