New Geography has an article about how writers and their like are being priced out of the places where they used to live by gentrification and other trends:
Yeah, the last part is silly. “The authorities” in middle-America aren’t after people who write or paint, forcing them to live in a rundown “Brooklyn brownstone” to avoid the American Gestapo.
The rest of the article is about cheap places to live and shows a long series of dilapidated buildings, many unsuited for fixing up or to live in. Note at the end what the author does for a living.
To my mind, the article majors too much of finding cheap places to live and too little on finding some that are also interesting. Only an idiot would turn to “semi-abandoned muffler shops” for living accommodations when a less-expensive and already appropriate home is a block away. There are also places that, although cheap, a too depressing to live in if you’re not writing novels about depressed people and need illustrations of that.
In short, he seems to have swallowed a myth about where creative types lived in the past and is trying to impose that myth on today. What never worked isn’t going to work today.
That said, does anyone have ideas about where writers should live today, assuming they are free to move but constrained by the cost of living?
In Seattle, I coped for a time with the rising cost of living by taking advantage of a good part-time job market, especially ones that fit well with writing. I hated having to work after midnight doing inside security at events at a popular Seattle venue, but the job had a major advantage. Work typically started about 6 pm, when I was too tired to write anyway. The time it took cost me nothing.
I’m now living in a mid-sized college town where the cost of living is much less and discovering what things to do exist here. With a 27,000 student university a ten-minute walk away, there is intellectual stimulation. I now own a home, so I’m less troubled that the town is growing fast enough, the costs of renting or buying are likely to go up.
I’ve also toyed with the idea of living in an interesting big city far away, perhaps someplace still inexpensive in Eastern Europe or perhaps I could find a microscopic apartment, hardly bigger than the bed, up four flights of stairs in otherwise pricey London. There’s a lot in London I’d like to see.
What are your best places to live as a writer ideas?