Being a freelancer can be one of the most fulfilling and liberating career choices, but only if it’s approached the right way. If you are thinking about becoming a freelance web designer, or maybe you already are but want to move to New York City, then this one's for you.
Living in NYC has its own ups (good food 24/7) and downs (the cost of living), but one thing is certain: NYC is a haven for creatives. There’s something about a city that never sleeps, a city where anything feels possible, to get those creative juices flowing.
Let’s dive into what it would be like to be a NYC web designer, and whether or not it’s the right place for you as a freelance designer. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the salary you can expect to make there, the cost of living, quality of life, and whether or not it’s worth it for a web designer to embrace the freelance lifestyle in NYC.
Freelance web designer salary in NYC
Freelance web designers, and freelancers in general, really have no cap on how much they can make. Their salary largely depends on how many clients they can handle at once, and their own marketing strategies in a saturated market.
The other factor to consider is how many years of experience they have and their pricing. Do they offer other services like designs and development? Or are they solely focused on website design?
According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a freelance web designer in NYC ranges from $62,531 to $113,663 per year. Because we are writing about freelance designers, this is not guaranteed, this is just what other freelance web designers in NYC are reporting.
Cost of Living
New York City isn’t known for its low cost of living. According to RentCafe, the cost of living in New York City is 26% higher than the state average, and 95% higher than the national average. Rent in NYC is 258% more expensive than the national average.
What does this mean for web designers?
Although, in most places in the United States, the freelance web designer salary is quite good, in NYC, the cost of living will inevitably stretch that take-home pay pretty thin. Thankfully, New York is also known for cheap food and shopping pretty much around every corner.
Quality of life.
Your quality of life living in NYC as a freelance designer will, again, depend on your own personal preferences. People who don’t mind living with roommates will fare much better than those who prefer to live alone. Because the cost of living is so high in NYC, and considering your take home pay, you will likely need to have a roommate or two in order to make ends meet.
Also, determine what type of worker you are. If you love the hustle of working with multiple clients, navigating your own business, and don’t mind living on the edge of your wallet, NYC may be a good place for you and your freelance career.
If you prefer a more laid back work schedule, only taking on what you need to, and get easily overwhelmed when your bank account drops beneath a certain amount, life in New York City may prove to be more stressful than you would be comfortable with.
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To freelance or not to freelance?
NY web design can be a lucrative career choice for both freelancers and salaried employees. Let’s look at some of the other options that web designers have if they do not want to solely freelance.
Web design agencies: If the hustle of freelancing scares you, then you may want to try applying at a web design company. The positive side of being salaried is that you never have to worry about where your clients are coming from and the business side (Ew, taxes) of being a freelancer.
On average, web designers at agencies make a similar amount of money to freelancers. The difference here is that you are capped. Another thing to consider is what type of agency you are applying for. Some are enterprise agencies that will require a lot of experience.
Others are creative communities where you can choose to be a 1099 contractor or a W2 employee. This is a great option if you are just starting out and need to get some experience under your belt.
In-house at a brand: Most web designers would love to work at a brand. Aside from the regular bi-weekly pay, you also get benefits if you’re full time. For experienced web designers, landing an in-house job is possible in New York City, but there’s likely to be a lot of competition.
Another thing to consider is the lack of variety. If you work for an ecommerce company, then you’ll be limited to a revolving door of ecommerce web design. If you work for a company that offers custom website designs, you may have more variety.
Working in-house at a brand may also require marketing knowledge like search engine optimization, a thorough understanding of target audiences, user experiences, and web design and development skills.
All in all, the more you know, the better you’ll fare in landing a full-time, in-house web design position.
Moonlight: Many web design freelancers in New York City moonlight as graphic designers or web developers in addition to their design work. This isn’t an uncommon practice, and sometimes adding those extra hours can help you make an extra buck or two where you can’t with just your web design skills.
Why designers love NYC.
There’s a reason why Frank Sinatra’s iconic line is repeated so much in movies, shows, and media about New York City. If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere. It’s up to you, New York.
While life in New York City isn’t a piece of cake for web designers, most choose to live there because there is nowhere quite like it. There’s an energy about NYC that doesn’t exist anywhere else on earth.
The buzz of the city at all hours, the endless variety of people, food, shopping, and art, make New York City irresistible to those who want to embrace the creative lifestyle. Although you will be stretched thin if you don’t play your cards right, NYC can also be the land of opportunity and inspiration for web designers who embrace the chaos and hustle.
We want to hear from you. Are you a web designer living in NYC?