5 Best Cities for Freelance Writers

Gabriel Feb 14, 2020

Freelance writers have it easy. Working on the move, no office required – with a flexible schedule that makes on-the-fly exploring almost mandatory. But where you work best has a lot to do with where you want to live at your best.

Some writers like to use their city as a muse, looking for larger-than-life landmarks and quirks of modern urban design that spark their creative interest. Others need the kind of solitude and quiet you can only find in small, old-school, out-of-the-way coffee shops, bars and bookstores. Where do you want to write? These five cities have a lot to offer the mobile wordsmith.

1. Derby, Kansas

At 1600 E Walnut Grove in this city in Sedgwick County stands a haven for writers. You can spend many a working hour uninterrupted nestled in amongst the shelves of history, classic literature and modern storytelling at the state-of-the-art Derby Public Library: explore the online searchable catalog of ebooks and audiobooks, or browse the regular roster of book clubs for all tastes, or get a ton of admin done by having forms and documents copied, faxed, printed, and notarized, to get a taste of how this venerable institution has truly kept in touch with the times.

2. Berkley, Michigan

This suburb of Detroit, along the Woodward Corridor in southeastern Oakland County, has a lot to offer: great schools, quality housing, safe neighborhoods. But it’s a short, walkable stretch on Coolidge Highway that appeals to writers. Start the day at 2847, with a bagel from insider’s favorite Elaine’s, then head to 2783, where you’ll find a collection of fine books, used and new – from quality fiction and literature, children’s books, small press comics and zines, and science fiction and fantasy – at Toadvine, before settling in at Folio, at 2838: a trendy co-sharing workspace that offers bike racks, high-speed WiFi, mail services, phone booths, free parking, and an open seating plan that starts at just $200 a month.

3. Holly Springs, Georgia

Inspiration is everywhere in this little city in Cherokee County. Find some peace to spark the imagination in amongst acres of fresh air available at three majestic natural parks – Barrett, J.C. Mullins, or J.B. Owens – take in the talks and performances on show during the annual Holly Springs Book Festival, hosted by the city’s Cultural Center, or feed the body and mind at The Butcher & Bottle, a rustic gastropub stocked with some of the area’s finest craft beers. But first, coffee: Alma Coffee is owned and run by a couple of 5th generation coffee farmers who use local knowledge and family farms in Honduras to deliver farm-fresh, eco-friendly beans right to your cup.

4. Santa Fe, New Mexico

New Mexico’s capital, in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo, is steeped in literary history. Ever heard of novelist Willa Cather? Playwright and essayist Mary Austin? Poet Witter Bynner? How about D.H. Lawrence, best known for Sons and Lovers and the infamous Lady Chatterley’s Lover? All of them were drawn to the rich history and cultural diversity of an area commonly known as the City Different. These masters of the written word found inspiration in the remote and rugged landscape of this city more than a century ago, and their creative colony is memorialized in the form of a regular Literary Landmarks Tour, which allows travelers to retrace their famous steps. 

5. Kalamazoo, Michigan

A spirit of innovation runs through this city in southern Michigan. Try the hand-roasted varieties on offer at Factory Coffee, taste the farm-fresh breakfast flavors at Food Dance, Crow’s Nest or Anna’s House, or try your writer’s hand at papermaking, printmaking, book binding, letterpress, creative writing, paper marbling, calligraphy courses and other open-studio workshops at Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. But better yet, channel your inner Hemingway at one of Kalamazoo’s many local, small-batch based breweries and distilleries – including Bell’s Brewery’s Eccentric Cafe, home America’s #1 beer.

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