Big cities like New York and Chicago are incredible, vibrant places to live. Rent might be higher, but in exchange, you have access to art, culture, music, food, and more.
The cost of rent and other small expenses from living in a big city can rack up fast. So planning and finding small ways to save money can help make big city living more affordable in the long run. To help you save, we have compiled five of the top ways to save money while living in the city.
No. 1: Live With Others
It’s a no-brainer, but often living in a big city means living with other people. Apartment hunting in cities like New York or Los Angeles can be tricky if you’re on your own. But the more people you have to split up sleeper costs like broker fees and moving expenses, the better off you’ll be. Having roommates can be a rewarding experience if you share common interests, values, and hobbies. But it can also be harrowing if you’re used to living alone.
Leave yourself enough time to explore options on sites like Facebook and SpareRoom. This can help you avoid the downsides of living with roommates you don’t know very well.
If you’re changing apartments or living spaces while living in a big city, ask around. You might be able to take over someone’s lease in a new apartment, to avoid paying the first month’s rent and more.
Are you more of a one-bedroom kind of person, but have to get a roommate? If so, consider finding ways to make your own life easier before you move in with roommates. Establishing house rules from the get-go can help you avoid conflict. And even avoid having to spend too much time with your roommates if you prefer solitude. If you can keep lines of communication available with your roommate, life will be much easier.
No. 2: Research Free Activities
The best part of big city living is access to cool, fun things. And the bigger the city, the more likely it is that there are free, fun events going on throughout the city all year round. Are you looking to stay entertained but don’t want to shell out a lot of money? If so, looking up free events in your neighborhood, events happening at metro parks, and promotional events by your favorite bars and restaurants. They are a win-win since you can save money while participating in things you enjoy.
Exercise is an activity that can often prove to be expensive. This holds even more true if you love attending workout classes or holding exclusive gym memberships. If you live in a city with ample green space and many fitness communities, consider taking the time to investigate leaving the gym behind. Instead, you can bike with groups, do free yoga in the park, and more to help you stay away from pricey classes.
If you can’t find many free activities that are to your liking, consider finding ways to make your current hobbies into inexpensive ones. Big cities often have secondhand shops galore for things like books, clothes, and furniture. If you’re a big reader or shopper, investing in pre-loved items can help relieve your bank account and will likely provide you with many great finds.
No. 3: Grocery Shop
Living in a big city means you’ll have access to tons of amazing restaurants, specialty food shops, and more. But one of the best ways to save money while living in a big city is to buy groceries and cook at home.
If you live in a city where grocery stores are few and far between, consider grabbing your essential items at local bodegas and convenience stores. Most of the time, you’ll be able to find everything you need and be able to support your neighborhood in the process. Grocery shopping in the suburbs is another way to avoid the higher costs associated with the city and still get the items you need.
If you’re more interested in shopping in full-size grocery stores, shop smarter to save money. You can food items in bulk that you know you’ll use and invest in large amounts of cleaning products and toiletries. This can save you trips, and prevent an inevitable CVS or Walgreens run in the future. Here’s more advice on how to save money on groceries.
No. 4: Utilize Public Transportation, Car Sharing, and Rental Cars
Paying for a parking space in a big city can often function as another rent-sized utility, taking a hefty toll on your funds. If your city has ample public transportation, taking full advantage of the transportation avenues available to you can be a great way to save. Often there are routes to get home fast that your city offers, that might not show up on Google/Apple maps.
If you’re an Uber or Lyft devotee, consider route planning when you’re out and about. This will help you to avoid being stuck in a position where you need to call a Lyft rather than hop on a train or bus.
If you ever need a car you can always use Zipcar, Turo, GetAround, or rent a car, rather than own one yourself. But if you really need a car, then you should try seeing if you can lower your car insurance.
No. 5: Stick with Your Budget
One of the easiest things to do in a big city is to stray from your budget. The allure of all the things you could want to do, all in one place, is a hard thing to ignore. If you’re serious about wanting to live in a big city in a cost-effective way, staying true to your budget is essential. The ultimate win-win is if you can master your budget, all while living in an urban and fun environment.
Looking for other ways to save money? Consider cutting the cord and getting into couponing. If you’re moving to a new city then you might want to save money on moving costs, and save money on your furry friend that you bring with you.