Best Cities for Writers to Live and Write In

If you understand fiction, you must have noticed this ironic truth: There’s more fact than fiction in fictional books.

Elements of the environment in which an author resides end up trickling into their literary works. The cities in which writers live greatly influence their work—and elements like ancient history, culture, local festivals, and other aspects of life offer inspiration to authors in living in that city.

And there are many places with rich cultures and things of great historical importance that writers can visit to suck in the inspiration that such cities emit. You can either visit or permanently move to one of these places.

Before we take a look at some of the best cities around the world you—the writer—can live in, let me briefly explain why you need to travel.

best cities for writers to live and write in

Why You Need to Travel as a Writer

Any writer needs to expand their worldview. You need to be knowledgeable in a lot of issues affecting the world now and events that may have shaped the world in the past.

Most of the famous writers have used experiences accumulated from traveling around the world. Some of them traveled out of their own volition, while others were exiled. But regardless of the factors behind their travels, the history they heard, the culture they saw, and the food they ate in these foreign places greatly surged their inspiration and probably, improved their content.

Sometimes, you need to travel just to get away from a busy city, clear your mind, and get your soul settled to write the next best thing.

two writing buddies standing on a gray pavement
Two writing buddies stand on a gray sidewalk.

At a Glance: The Best 5 Cities for a Writer

  • New York, USA  
  • Paris, France
  • Los Angeles, USA
  • London, England
  • Melbourne, Australia 

Best Cities for a Writer in the US

New York

a writer sits against a window, the empire estate building in the backdrop, for inspiration.
A writer sits against a window, with the Empire State Building in the backdrop, for inspiration.

New York just has to be on this list, a major financial and cultural center, which also happens to be the capital of the world publishing industry.

However, this isn’t a city you travel to if you want to clear your head—it’s expensive, too crowded, and too busy for you to relax.

Pittsburgh

‘The City of Steel!‘ That nickname on its own attracts a lot of curiosity. It’s an attractive city for both writers and readers—it’s brimming with writing communities like and has enough indie bookstores.

The rental prices aren’t bad either.

Portland, Oregon

It’s a big beautiful city that lies among the mountains. Apart from its natural beauty, Portland boasts of Powell’s Books— which is an excellent resource center for independent authors—and well-established literary organizations.

powell's books in portland, oregon
Powell’s books in Portland, Oregon. (Image credit: Adam Jones, Ph.D., on Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Its writing community is active and supportive, which, despite the rental prices, is something that will be attractive for any budding writer.

Los Angeles, CA.

Everyone in the entertainment industry wants to go to LA. There’s just too much glamour and money in the capital of the global film industry.

If you’re a scriptwriter, why wouldn’t you want to live in Los Angeles?

central library, los angeles public library, ca
LA Central Library. (Image credit: “Central Library, Los Angeles Public Library, CA” by Ellen Forsyth on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

However, LA isn’t all movies and celebs; there are cafés, the LA central library, and the beach! Too many places to inspire a writer.

Best Cities for Writers in Europe

London, England

hyde park, london, england
London’s Hyde Park is a great spot for writing and getting creative ideas.

London is my favorite, not only because of its modern history, but the writers that have shaped literature like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen, William Blake, just to name a few.

London isn’t a cheap city to live in, but it’s not the most expensive. With all the great architectural beauty, vibrant intercultural atmosphere, and rich history, I wouldn’t expect it to have low rental costs.

Edinburgh, Scotland

skyline of the city of edinburgh
Skyline of the city of Edinburgh.

This city was home to some of the greatest names in literature like Sir Walter Scott, Muriel Spark, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Not just that, Edinburgh is the first-ever UNESCO City of Literature, confirming it as the city for writers.

And, just like London, Edinburgh has stunning architecture and a lot of historical buildings that give you a story every time you look at them.

Paris, France

the eiffel tower in paris, france.
Paris has been the home and frequently the subject of the most prominent writers, poets, and playwrights in French literature.

Honestly, who doesn’t want to go to Paris?

This is the liveliest and most inspiring city on this list and possibly the most sought after by creatives from around the world.

If this city could attract writers as big as Ernest Hemingway and James Baldwin, it can attract anyone.

The city of light is choke-full of bookshops, bars, and cafes. Too much inspiration and too many sites to see like the Eiffel tower, the elegant shops and cafes of the Champs Elysées, the University of Paris, and countless others.

Prague, Czech Republic

strahov library in prague
Strahov Library in Prague.

Another UNESCO City of Literature on this list, Prague was home to Franz Kafka, a writer from whose name the term Kafkaesque was born.

Prague has a rich history and is a city full of stunning architecture, museums, and cultural hotspots.

There are stories on every street of this beautifully cultural and commercial center, plus technical writers are paid well in the Czech capital.

Rest of the World

Melbourne, Australia                                                  

Melbourne boasts of vibrant literary culture, and its literary organizations—like Australian Poetry, the Small Press Network, Express Media, and the Melbourne Writers Festival—support a diverse range of writers.

It also boasts a successful and active publishing industry, a culture of independent bookselling, and the highest concentration of community book clubs in Australia.

state library of victoria
The interior of the State Library of Victoria.

Melbourne is also home to Australia’s oldest public library: the State Library of Victoria, which was founded in 1854.

This is a city built for writers.

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Rio has everything! Food, soccer, Copacabana Beach, and the famous Christ The Redeemer.

There are a lot of cool bars and restaurants that serve you the spirit of Rio and but you should visit them later after you visit the beautiful, stunning, and incredible cultural heritage site: the Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading.

Cusco, Peru

Cusco was made for writers: A city in the Andes Mountains, formerly the capital of the Inca empire, and a city that marries contemporary and old architecture.

It is one of the best cities in South America for a writer to visit.

When you’re not writing, you could climb Huayna Picchu Mountain or visit the world’s highest navigable body of water: Lake Titicaca.

lake titicaca
Peru’s Lake Titicaca is awash in bright colors.

Whatever you do or see in this city, you’re going to find something to write about.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of the second-largest country in South America: Argentina.

This city is one of the many cities around the world in which you can find distinct European influences on culture—and some neighborhoods in this city still show Italian influences.

Buenos Aires, the shopping capital of Argentina, has a vibrant nightlife and cafes that serve a bit of the country’s history.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand. Its yearly festivals (including the Loi Krathong and Songkran festivals) and low rent prices make it an exciting city for freelance writers and digital business owners.

It has a vibrant cultural atmosphere and tasty food that is more than cheap. You can come back with a couple of stories from a setting as colorful as Chiang Mai.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

ho chi minh city
The view of Ho Chi Minh City at night.

Ho Chi Minh City has history buried beneath it and erected above its ground. This city was formerly Saigon and was the capital of French Indochina.

This is a place where you go to discover history’s face still showing its face through amazing food, French and American influences, and unique cultural experiences all around the city.

The cost of living is not high and the city’s history and current state offer a lot to write about.

Other Great Places  for Writers

  • Stone Town, Zanzibar.
  • Queenstown, New Zealand.
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands.
  • Barcelona, Spain.
  • Bruges, Belgium.
  • Gaborone, Uganda.
  • Dohar, Qatar.
  • Florence, Italy.
  • Havana, Cuba.
  • Jaipur, India.
  • Kigali, Rwanda.

How to Travel at a Lower Cost

Look for inexpensive destinations

If you’re going to a city like New York, you should be ready to take a good amount of dollars out of your pocket, but traveling shouldn’t always be costly. By choosing less expensive cities, you ensure that the only stress you’re going to have to endure is writing-related, not financial. The US and Europe have a couple of inexpensive destinations, but SouthEast Asia, South America, or Africa have lower rental rates and food prices for most westerners, hence the cost of living is relatively inexpensive.

Travel in the off-season

One obvious trick involves taking advantage of a time when there is less travel. Less demand means low rates and you can save yourself some dollars.

Stay in a rented apartment.

You can stay in an Airbnb or rented apartment and save some money. This way, you can also cook some of your meals; thereby, some more money. Safety is always an issue when you go to an unfamiliar city, so you should always make sure you use verifiable means of booking your accommodation.

Tips for traveling on a budget.

What’s Stopping You from Travelling?

As a writer, you’re free to write from anywhere—that’s the beauty of this profession. This gives you the license to go places and still be able to churn out thousands of sumptuous pages. And traveling, for a writer, isn’t just a vacay, the places traveled are also a source of inspiration and contribute to the growth and success of a writer.

You can go to special cities in literature like Edinburgh—which is a UNESCO City of Literature —or go to a city full of unwritten stories like Zanzibar. You could, perhaps, visit a city by the ocean and enjoy conceiving a great story while basking in the sun, on the beach.

Wherever you choose to go, know that the experience you get from traveling—whether positive or negative—will have a huge positive impact on your writing.

About Jessica Majewski

Jessica started off as an avid book reader. After reading one too many romance novels (really... is it ever really enough?), she decided to jump to the other side and started writing her own stories.

She now shares what she has learned (the good and the not so good) here at When You Write, hoping she can inspire more up and coming wordsmiths to take the leap and share their own stories with the world.