In most cases being a creative means you can be anywhere and figure out a way to make it work, but there is no denying that there are some places within the U.S and the World that have vibes, atmospheres, and opportunities that are very beneficial to photographers, models, writers, stylists, make-up artists and more. Sure, it’s nice that we live in a pretty social world in 2018. There are so many great online groups that help match creatives. The Hub is an incredible tool to use if you are looking for others to meet, work with, and bounce ideas off of. Yet, there’s still something about being in an environment full of artists, collaborating, communicating, and inspiring each other to be better each day.
It’s possible for this to all happen online, but if I told you that there are affordable places for creatives to live where you can wake up go to a coffee shop and sit with people who are working on their art, their passions, and then at night you can hang out, grab drinks, talk about your dreams and help each other make them happen – wouldn’t you want to live there even for a little while?
I have wanted to write a novel forever, but where I live I have to work a “survival job” as I call it in order to pay my bills. I don’t have the time, or energy it seems at the end of each day to sit down and bang out 10 chapters. And maybe this is what separates the goods from the greats, but I feel like if I was somewhere that I felt I could really be myself and survive doing what I love to do then I could write my masterpiece. In the movies they make it all look so easy. People move to big cities like San Francisco, New York, LA, and Chicago on a whim and somehow make it work. While this could happen it’s not the most likely case. Millenials and creatives in general need more affordable places to live and work in. Try not to despair when you can’t afford to pay over $2,000 a month to share a small apartment with three other people. I mean if you want to do it then do it, but know that there are many other options that many of us overlook because it isn’t our dream city.
Below are 10 of the best affordable places for creatives to call home:
1. Salt Lake City, Utah.
Median 1BRM Rental: $780 per month
It’s more than just a creative town it has many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, some incredible skiing opportunities, and some prime locations to photograph and find inspiration to write that next chapter. Salt Lake City is also one of the screening locations for films participating in the Sundance film festival, widely considered to be one of the best independent film festivals in the world.
2. Ashland, Oregon
Median 1BRM Rental: $650 per month
Arts, education, and adventure give Ashland an edge over other cities and towns. Only 15 miles from the California border, Ashland boasts 300 days of sunshine a year with a culturally sophisticated, yet small town vibe. It’s the perfect place to start fresh. Not only will you be apart of a college town, but you will be living in a well-loved tourist destination due to the popularity of the music, theatre, and dining here. It’s very outdoorsy and has a remarkable Shakespeare Festival every year.
3. Providence, Rhode Island
Median 1BRM Rental: $1,310 per month
Providence gets a reputation for being a town for tourists and Ivy Leaguers and while this is certainly true there is more to it than that. It’s similar to living in a vacation town that will still have plenty to do when the vacation is over. The city is filled with painters, sculptors, performers, and other artists communities that would all be right at your fingertips if you were to move on in. Providence also boasts some delicious food like falafel, kebab, and curry joints that rival NYC. And in the summer you have the Water Fires, which are pretty magical.
4. Oakland, California
Median 1BRM Rental: $1,198 per month
It’s still possible to find a decent rent in Oakland. And if you make it there the vibrancy of the art scene is infectious. Oakland is the hippier, edgier, twin to San Francisco. You’d be surprised at all you can find here and with a short commute across the Bay you can have all the San Francisco your heart desires.
5. Kalamazoo, Michigan
Median 1BRm Rental: $624 per month
With the city’s cost of living being 15% lower than the National Average you may not need to pick up that second survival job to supplement your income instead of focusing on your art. Because of the creative community, Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo, and Western Michigan University creatives should find no problem finding support within the community.
6. Austin, Texas
Median 1BRM Rental: $1,200 per month
The Lone Star State’s creative capital. Austin has some of of the world’s best live music venues and performers. Not to mention two world-famous film and music festivals, street art galore, and great independent book stores, and one of the world’s premier literary and cultural archives. With the economy booming you’ll have no trouble landing a job that will give you some freedom to roam.
7. Fort Collins, Colorado
Median 1BRM Rental: $758 per month
Fort Collins still has under-the-radar affordability and with it’s great views, dispensaries, and college-town lifestyle you cannot go wrong. It truly present the full Coloradical experience with hiking, fishing, biking, skiing, rafting, and road tripping. It’s a fraction of the coast of places like Denver, Aspen, or Vail and this is where you can do your own thing and be who you want to be. Fort Collins is also home to some of the best breweries in the state and has great places to meet other creatives such as yourself.
8. Seattle, Washington
Median 1BRM Rental: $997 per month
Seattle is known for its role in the small independent film scene. With a great creative demographic, this is the perfect place to connect with fellow Hub members, grab a coffee, and talk ideas. Then check out a bookstore, or a trendy bar and have a fun night out. The next day head into the mountains for up to Cape Flattery for some stunning photo opportunities and sessions. With over 5,000 jobs in the film industry you’re bound to find something available.
9. Nashville, Tennessee
Median 1BRM Rental: $1,110 per month
In Nashville the people are nice and friendly, the BBQ is to die for, and the affordable housing market is plentiful. In East Nashville, an art hub across the river, you can find many visual artists making art everyday and spending their mornings among each other in popular coffee shops such as Barista Parlor. With great music, delicious food, and plenty of people to get to know this could be the best place to launch a new idea.
10. Beaverton, Oregon
Median 1BR Rental: $945 per month
Just outside of Portland this is a more affordable option to be close to the art scene without breaking the bank. Portland has strong community support and a wide range of creative disciplines from theatre to painting, and from photography to publishing the city certainly has a lot to offer. Not to mention the adorable coffee shops and abundant open mic nights. It’s hip, fun, and trendy enough that you won’t get bored. And you will meet a ton of Hub members both in Oregon and Washington so that’s a win. The popular jobs are Beauty Copywriter, Photographer, Graphic Designer, Part Time Content Writer, and Communications Specialist. Also it’s just a road trip down the stunning coastline to get to California.
I know these places sound great, but a lot of creatives feel it will take them months or years to save up enough money to move somewhere new. That doesn’t have to be the case. You can still remain on a budget and put aside money that will allow you to make it somewhere faster. All it takes is a little planning, small sacrifices, and will power. No one said it would be easy, but if moving is something you feel will help you grow as an artist and as an individual then you should without a doubt go for it.
Here are 4 tips to save money fast:
1. Make a list and stick to it
In terms of expenses, I find most of my money goes towards unnecessary food. I’ll eat out often with friends, buy drinks at dinner, pick out whatever I want grocery shopping and then complain when I don’t have enough money at the end of each month to do the things I actually want to do. Next time you run to the store go armed with a list. It might take some time to prepare beforehand but it will save you in the long run. Decide what you want to eat during the week, and try to avoid going out all the time because it really adds up. Lists also help you avoid buying things that end up being a waste.
2. Remove your credit card/debit card numbers from online accounts and if possible wait 30 days before a purchase
When we have all of information stored on sites like Amazon, Best Buy, etc. it makes it so easy to pick out an item and simply click buy. If the info is not saved it forces you to take the time to dig that card out of your wallet, or if you are in bed trying to make a purchase you have to get out from under the covers, walk across the room, and retrieve your wallet. It’s sad but this simple task deters most of us from making those impulse purchases. Also waiting 30 days allows you to avoid stress buying and spending money on products that you could either find cheaper somewhere else at a later date or don’t really need at all.
3. Calendar Challenge
For example for the first week March put away $52, then the next week $51, and then week three $50 and so on. This might be tough at first but once you get through a year you will have $1,378 saved up that you could use on whatever you want. You can start this at anypoint and do as much money as you see feet. You could do it daily, weekly, monthly whatever you feel is right. Putting aside a little a week in a savings account helps to. I do this and you’d be surprised how you forget about and then get excited when you see what you have saved.
4. Reduce or eliminate your cable bill
Most of us don’t even really use cable anymore other than to watch the news. So perhaps you could change from a premium plan to a more basic one. Or eliminate it all together and just watch Netflix or Hulu or neither. Watching less tv gives you more free time to do productive things and cuts down on your electric bill. Double savings.
Next time you are checking out places to live research these 10 towns and in order to save some money try to follow these tips. Nothing is ever impossible all of us creatives just need to get innovative with the ways we save our money. And before you know it you’ll be hitting the road to your next hometown, ready to meet new people and further advance your career.