The Best City To Live In If You're A Writer

Writing can be a tough job no matter where you are located. Deadlines, finding inspiration, and making a living with words can be a challenge. Add in the possible struggles of fitting your writing endeavors around family obligations and/or other employment. Though writers can be found everywhere, including the tiniest little one-stoplight towns and remote wooded cabins, they seem to flock to cities and urban areas for a number of reasons. No matter the genre or type of writing you do, cities are often hotbeds of literary culture, community, and opportunity not found in other regions. 

Whether you are a journalist, a novelist, or a poet, or you write for the web, some cities stand out as friendly places for wordsmiths more than others. There are a number of regions throughout the country that excel at providing an excellent habitat for writers in the wild. We've highlighted a few of the top recommendations as well as which is the most highly touted city for writers in the U.S.

The South: New Orleans

Coming in at #7 on Authority Pub's List, there is no doubt that New Orleans is a hot spot for literary culture, having boasted the presence of some of the greatest American authors who either lived or spent considerable time amid the rich culture of the French Quarter. They include William Faulkner, Truman Capote Tennessee Williams, and Kate Chopin, as well as contemporary authors like Anne Rice (via New Orleans). Today, writers in all genres from mystery to poetry join them in finding inspiration among the wisteria-lined streets and gas-lit corridors of this beautiful city. 

NOLA is also home to rich cultures of food, visual art, and music, making it a great place to live. Although it has slightly higher living costs than elsewhere in the south as an urban area, it is still more affordable than other urban regions to the north and west. The Mississippi River delta and surrounding swamps are great for nature-loving writers, while the cafes, bars, and other aspects of nightlife offer endless inspiration and distraction from writer's block. 

The Midwest: Chicago

Chicago boasts over 200 years of literary culture, including famous writers that lived in all of its many neighborhoods. Saul Bellow, Nelson Algren, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Carl Sandburg all called the Windy City home. Today, Chicago is home to a pocket of writers everywhere you look, as well as some great support and community in places like the Poetry Foundation and the American Writers Museum. The region also hosts some of the top academic institutions for writers, including Columbia College, The School of the Art Institute, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago. 

Almost every night of the week, you will find literary readings, open mics, workshops, and lectures/discussions in many of the independent bookstores, cafes, galleries, and bars in the city. This includes what many consider to be the original home of slam poetry at the Green Mill Lounge. While the winter weather is definitely for the heartier sort of writer, the abundant greenspace, lakefront, and amazing architecture, food, and entertainment make it a great place to live. According to Authority Pub, writers in Chicago earn 30 percent more on average than writers elsewhere in the US and pay far less in living expenses than comparable cities like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Alternative midwestern cities that are great for writers include Minneapolis/St. Paul and Detroit.

The Southwest: Austin

Austin, Texas often scores high in rankings when it comes to spots for writers, artists, and other creatives. With a rich cultural scene that sprouted and bloomed in the 1990s, Austin includes great cultural events like the SXSW Festival (particularly intriguing if you are a screenwriter) and literature-focused institutions like the University of Texas. Austin's charm is buoyed by its relatively affordable living costs and reasonable rents. The colorful and creative vibe of the Southwest cannot be beaten, and neither can the weather if you like it warm and sun-filled all year long. 

According to Writer Access, writers in Austin make up to 50K per year on average and take advantage of the great scene of readings, workshops, and related events. In addition, the many coffee shops, bars, and bookstores provide great places to write indoors and outdoors under the sun. Another Southwest locale that is recommended for writers is Taos, New Mexico.

The West Coast: Portland

Portland is often cited as one of the best cities for creatives. While rents and home prices are on the higher end overall, they are far more affordable than other Pacific Northwest locales like Seattle (which also makes Authority Pub's list at #4). The rainy and cloudy climate of the Northwest would seem to be a perfect place for writers as it sends everyone inside to take advantage of cozy coffee shops, bars, bookstores, and other places where people love words. 

In addition, the beautiful landscape, from forests to roaring beaches, cannot be beaten, particularly if you are looking for nature as inspiration or are fond of activities like hiking, camping, and climbing. Portland hosts a number of literary greats like the mammoth and famous Powell's Books, The Portland Book Festival, and the Mountain Writers Series (via The city has been home to writers like Ursula LeGuin, Chuck Palahnuik, and Cheryl Strayed as well. 

East Coast: New York City

It may be no surprise that NYC takes Authority Pub's #1 spot, as well as many other lists (including Rentberry and Kindlepreneur) for great cities for writers. Despite having one of the highest costs of living in the country, it also happens to be the center of the U.S. publishing industry, which means if you are a writer looking to network and make connections that make your job much easier, New York is the place to do it. It is also top-notch if you are looking for employment opportunities in publishing, advertising, and journalism. 

New York's numerous boroughs offer their own flavor of literary culture, from the bustling publishing holds of Manhattan to smaller open mics and workshops of Queens and Brooklyn. NYC offers something for writers in every genre and field, including cultural institutions like the Poetry Society of New York, The New School, and the New York Public Library, as well as countless other institutions that support and provide a community for authors. 

If you love urban vibes and northeast living, but aren't quite famous enough to land those lucrative publishing contracts that allow you to live there, consider Philadelphia or Washington D.C., which also regularly make the lists of great homes for writers. Philadelphia deserves a shout-out for a rich legacy that includes Edgar Allen Poe and Louisa May Alcott, as well as a great culture of music, food, and visual beauty of the city and its surrounding region.