Southampton cruises to victory as UK’s top city for the self-employed

Southampton cruises to victory as UK’s top city for the self-employed

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Freelancers in Southampton earn nearly £40,000 a year on average

Southampton tops the list as the UK’s number one city for the self-employed, ahead of London, a study revealed.

Intuit QuickBooks questioned 5,010 self-employed people from across the UK about a range of issues, from working hours and mean income to holiday and general life satisfaction.

Drilling down the responses from different cities, Southampton came out top, followed by London, Edinburgh, Brighton and Sheffield.

The study found that freelancers in Southampton had not only some of the highest earnings in the UK – an average of £39,024 per annum – they also worked the fewest hours: an average of 26 per week.

Around 83 per cent of Southampton respondents also said their overall life satisfaction was as good as or better than salaried workers.

So, what makes life satisfaction among freelancers in Southampton – and across the UK – so high?

Well, when asked about the biggest advantages of working independently, Southampton’s freelancers said having control over their own schedules (79%), having more flexibility to work on their own terms (69%) and being their own boss (68%).

Despite the notoriously high cost of living in south-east England, its cities actually dominated Intuit’s rankings, with Southampton, London and Brighton all taking top five positions.

Looking beyond Southampton and the south-east, to the wider national picture, Intuit’s findings actually echo IPSE’s own research into life satisfaction among freelancers.

A study by IPSE, released earlier this year, found that 84 per cent of freelancers across the UK are satisfied with their lifestyle and way of working. 

Similarly, Intuit’s study found that between 81 and 85 per cent of freelancers in their top five cities felt more than or at least as satisfied as salaried workers.

Most of Intuit’s respondents also said “their financial status is the same or better than being a salaried worker”, with the figures ranging from 65 per cent in Brighton to 71 per cent in Southampton.

Again, this tallies with IPSE’s own Freelancer Confidence Index, which has consistently found that freelancers earn up to 2.5 times more than employees in equivalent roles.

But it’s not just about the money; Intuit’s study found that higher incomes does not necessarily correlate with life satisfaction.

In fact, in Sheffield, which came out as the fifth-best place to be self-employed, freelancers claimed to have the highest level of overall life satisfaction, despite having the third-lowest mean income of any city in the UK – £24,791.

More people are choosing to work for themselves now, not just because it generally brings in more income, but because of the freedom, independence and the increase in overall satisfaction.

Dominic Allon, Intuit Europe’s vice president and managing director said in a statement: “The surge in self-employment has been fuelled by demand for a better quality of life.”

And, he continues, it just so happens that Southampton’s freelancers have managed to achieve that with “the best balance to earn more, work less and be happier”.

It’s certainly not just about Southampton, however. Suneeta Johal, IPSE’s head of research, education and training said: “This interesting and invaluable study shows that right across the UK – from Edinburgh to Southampton – it’s possible to enjoy a high quality of life as a freelancer.

“And not only that; it also confirms what our own research has suggested: that wherever they are in the UK, freelancers and the self-employed can enjoy a level of financial security and life satisfaction that is at least as high as – and in many cases higher than – salaried employees.”