You’ve been thinking about it — moving to a place that inspires you in your writing. Even better if the city is full of bookstores and has an active writing community.
You’ve looked at a few tantalizing options. But some of the most literary cities on the planet aren’t necessarily the best places to live. Some are well beyond your budget. Others don’t have everything you need.
Welcome to Authority Pub’s own list of 23 of the best places for writers to live.
23 Best Cities for Writers
Some of the best cities for aspiring writers are right here in the U.S.A., though plenty are not. Depending on your writing goals and your means, if you’re hoping to earn a good living as a writer, each of these cities has something unique to offer.
- 23 Best Cities for Writers
- Best Cities for Writers in the US
- 1. New York City, New York
- 2. Portland, Oregon
- 3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- 4. Seattle, Washington
- 5. Austin, Texas
- 6. Chicago, Illinois
- 7. New Orleans, Louisiana
- 8. Taos, New Mexico
- 9. Pittsburgh, PA
- 10. Washington, D.C.
- 11. Los Angeles, California
- 12. Asheville, North Carolina
- 13. Saint Paul, Minnesota and its “twin,” Minneapolis
- 14. Cambridge, Massachusetts
- 15. Detroit, Michigan
- 16. Livingston, Montana
- Best Cities for Writers in Europe
- 17. Edinburgh, Scotland
- 18. Dublin, Ireland
- 19. London, England
- 20. Berlin, Germany
- 21. Medellin, Colombia
- 22. Paris, France
- 23. Chiang Mai, Thailand
- Where Do Most Writers Live?
- What city inspires you to write?
Best Cities for Writers in the US
If you’re in the U.S. and not planning to leave it, there are still many options to choose from, whatever your budget and priorities.
1. New York City, New York
Even with the jaw-dropping median rental price ($3,977/mo as of March, 2020), you knew this would be on the list, right?
With its large number of big-name publishing houses and a host of established writing communities, New York City holds a special place in many a writer’s heart. And while the average rent is daunting, the average salary for writers isn’t low, either.
2. Portland, Oregon
Aside from the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon has Powell’s Books, a massive resource center for independent authors.
Portland also has well-established literary organizations (like the Mountain Writers Series) and a thriving and supportive writing community. And while rents have been on the rise here, the average writer’s salary is 23% above the national average.
3. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Even if you’re not an Edgar Allen Poe fan, the cultural benefits of living here, combined with its thriving foodie scene and picturesque, tree-lined streets, make it a uniquely charming option for creatives.
Add the array of writing workshops and conferences, and any writer would find Philadelphia a supportive and inspiring place to live. It helps, too, that the average writing salary here ($40 an hour) is 63% higher than the national average.
4. Seattle, Washington
Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle’s scenery, weather, and coastal feel make it an attractive option for many writers.
Why be out in the rain if you can enjoy a gorgeous view from your home while sipping fresh, hot coffee (or tea), enjoying the sound of raindrops on the roof, and writing away?
This city is home to creators of high art, underground movements, popular trends, and counter culture alike. If you love to create, you’ll find a welcome here.
5. Austin, Texas
Austin’s open and welcoming community, combined with its colorful and creative ambience, makes it an ideal place for developing writers with a preference for warmer weather.
Situated in the heart of Texas, Austin is home to a blossoming cultural mecca. It’s also a relatively affordable place to find a home and start building your creative network.
An average writing salary of $51,000 makes a thriving career as a writer attainable.
6. Chicago, Illinois
If you’re looking for a big city with a bustling literary scene and a supportive writing community, you’ll feel right at home in Chicago, one of the top cities for writers.
Check out the number and variety of independent bookstores and coffee shops, along with the huge crowds drawn to the city’s writing conventions, workshops, and festivals, and I dare you to find an environment more friendly to writers and readers a like.
It helps, too, that the average writing salary is 30% above the national average.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
If you’re looking for a culturally rich city that famous writers have called home, New Orleans is an ideal spot for genre fiction writers — from mystery to horror to crime — particularly those with an interest in the supernatural.
The average writing salary of $50,000 meets much lower living expenses (compared to many others on this list) to make this city an affordable option.
If you’re open to checking the place out, the food alone is worth a tour.
8. Taos, New Mexico
If you’re looking for something more out of the way — a “hidden gem” which is steadily attracting creatives (including writers) — consider Taos, New Mexico,
Tiwa Native Americans have inhabited the Taos Pueblo for a millennium, while artists have been making their homes in the more modern town since the 1920s.
Explore and savor both, from the charming village plaza and the Harwood Museum of Art to the futuristic Earthship Biotecture.
9. Pittsburgh, PA
Diverse and dynamic, Pittsburgh is so much more than the “City of Steel.” Look for writing communities like Littsburgh, the Pittsburgh Writers Project, and The Writing Studio.
Writers and readers alike will love Pittsburgh’s eclectic indie bookstores. And with a lower median rental price than its neighbor, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, it’s one of the most affordable cities on this list.
And it’s close enough to New York City that you can visit now and then, when the mood strikes — or when one of its publishing houses call.
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10. Washington, D.C.
Considered the “most literate city” nationwide, D.C. has a variety of bookstores, including one of the best in the country: Politics and Prose. And writing communities like Split This Rock, The Inner Loop, and Story District provide both support and prestige for writers.
A median writing salary of $70,330, combined with its beautiful neighborhoods and diverse population, makes this a city worth considering.
11. Los Angeles, California
Song writers, screenwriters, and creative and technical writers alike are drawn to Los Angeles. While art is center stage, creatives of all kinds find their place here.
With a median rental price comparable to New York City and an average writing salary of under $50,000, it won’t be every writer’s #1 option.
But if your hustle matches your love for the city and its creative environment, it’s worth getting acquainted with its writing communities and top publishers.
12. Asheville, North Carolina
If you’re looking for a city south of the Mason-Dixon line that has great bookstores and a culture all its own, look at Asheville, NC. Check out Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe or sip an espresso or glass of wine at Battery Park Book Exchange while you scan the shelves.
Check out Firestorm Books & Coffee, which hosts events and writing workshops by and for queer authors, tarot circles, and community services.
Add the town’s beautiful setting, its literary history, and the supportive Writer’s Workshop, and it may just be where you’ll want to spend the rest of your life.
13. Saint Paul, Minnesota and its “twin,” Minneapolis
Saint Paul is the smaller of the Twin Cities and has its own variety of bookshops and cultural festivals. Right next door, you’ll find the Minneapolis Institute of Art and Guthrie Theater.
Both cities host a variety of writing groups and events, including the annual Minnesota Writing Workshop.
Add to that the lower cost of living and the general impression that people love living here, and it’s understandable why so many writers and other creatives brave the Minnesota winters. And with all the coffee shops, maybe you will, too.
14. Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is considered the brilliant-people capitol of the U.S., with MIT and Harvard within its limits and situated near Boston (where famous YA fantasy author Rick Riordan lives).
If you’ve always wanted to live on the east coast, but you’d rather steer clear of New York City, you’ll find a lively writing community here, along with lots of quiet places to buy new or used books or just to sit and get some writing done.
15. Detroit, Michigan
Many writers and artists have moved to Detroit because of the low cost of living there, but the city has far more to offer than that.
Whether you’re looking for inspiration through art, food, or music, you’ll see the variety of all three reflected in the resilient people who live here,
As locals would say, “Once a Detroiter, always a Detroiter.” Wherever you come from, this city works extra hard to make you part of its evolution into something the whole community can be proud of.
16. Livingston, Montana
Described as the “northern gateway” to Yellowstone National Park, Livingston, Montana and its surrounding area has more professional writers per capita than New York City, Los Angeles, or any other literary hotspot you can think of.
Many of the top writers in the country live within 100 miles of this picturesque town surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Writers here can enjoy the social scene at the acclaimed Elk River Books, where writing and the outdoors support each other.
Best Cities for Writers in Europe
Now, we come to some of the best cities for writers outside the United States, some of which (we hope) will surprise you.
17. Edinburgh, Scotland
The first UNESCO City of Literature, Edinburgh has a rich literary history. As the former home of literary giants like Sir Walter Scott, Muriel Spark, and Robert Louis Stevenson, this Scottish city has plenty to attract writers from around the world.
Keep in mind that internet access is one of the few things that cost more in the UK than in the U.S.. And parking is expensive enough that using a taxi is often more affordable.
But if you’ve always wanted to live in Scotland, Edinburgh has several expat organizations that will help you get settled.
18. Dublin, Ireland
The birthplace of James Joyce, Dublin has literary tradition goes back thousands of years to when monks would carefully transcribe sacred texts.
The Dublin Writers Museum celebrates his work, along with the whole spectrum of Ireland’s literary history, beginning with Irish poetry and Celtic storytelling.
The Abbey Theater (founded by W.B. Yeats in 1903) is another draw for creative expats, along with St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where writer Jonathan Swift acted as Dean from 1713 to 1745.
19. London, England
Few places are as full of literary landmarks as London. While the rental cost is higher here than elsewhere in the UK, it’s still considerably lower than New York City.
Take advantage of London Walks’ lively themed tours through the city. Explore Shakespeare’s or Dickens’ London and take the Literary London Pub Walk. The more you get out and explore, the more you’re likely to find creative inspiration.
20. Berlin, Germany
Not only is Berlin one of the most affordable European cities to live in, but, according to Lone Wolf Magazine, Germany is one of the most socially supportive countries in the world, designed so that no one (including a starving artist) can fall through the cracks.
So, if you’re looking for an affordable creative community in a place rich with beauty and history, Berlin is a worthy option to consider, as long as you’re willing to learn German.
21. Medellin, Colombia
Once considered the most dangerous place in the world to live, the second-biggest city in Colombia now attracts creatives from all over the world — thanks to its low cost of living and its new reputation as the world’s most innovative city.
According to British travel writer Lisa Imogen Eldridge, you can share an apartment with gorgeous views, a pool, and security for about $257 USD per month. You can even have organic food delivered to your home for roughly $25 USD per month.
Add a fast WiFi connection and loads of great cafes to work from, and you’ve got an ideal living situation for a writer on a budget.
22. Paris, France
This list wouldn’t be complete without Paris — quite possibly the most literary city on Earth. Writers and other creatives throughout the centuries have come here to be inspired and shaped by its storied past and lively atmosphere.
Early in the 20th century, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein, among others, left the U.S. for Paris as part of the “Lost Generation.”
Writers in Paris today can still feel their influence and enjoy what they were looking for, especially in the lively bookshops and cafes of the Latin Quarter and the Left Bank.
23. Chiang Mai, Thailand
With its friendly climate and low prices, this city in northern Thailand has earned its favored status among freelancers and digital nomads. According to Forbes Magazine, rents start at around $100 USD per month. And food is both extremely cheap and tasty.
Add to that the extensive network of entrepreneurs in the city and the ease of making profitable connections at meet-ups and conferences, and you have an ideal place to build your writing career while keeping your expenses low.
Where Do Most Writers Live?
It’s hard to answer the question, “Where do most writers live?” But with a bit of hunting and scouring, we can make an educated guess at the top three:
- Livingston, Montana
- New York City, New York
- Los Angeles, California
Thanks to the internet, writers can live where they want and work remotely, but many choose to live near New York City or Los Angeles.
A more difficult question to answer is “Which country has the best writers?”
In 2019, over 45.8 thousand writers lived and worked in the U.S. But many writers end up leaving the U.S. for more affordable or more historic locales. And other countries have celebrated writers of their own.
It’s not so much a competition as a numbers game.
What city inspires you to write?
Now that you’ve looked through 23 of the best cities for writers to live and work, which ones appealed to you most? Are you looking at U.S. cities, or are you thinking of taking up residence in a different country?
Think of what you want most in the city you choose. Make a list of everything that comes to mind and look through the list again.
Then narrow your choices down to the ones that have what you need, before you zero in on the options that get your imagination working on the possibilities.
Might be time to pay a visit.