Have you always dreamed of living in an urban mecca like New York City, Chicago, or San Francisco? Are you afraid that money will hold you back? What if you’re already living in a city like this and have been all your life? You may still be feeling the burn of high prices on nearly everything. City living isn’t for everyone but if it is your cup of tea then we’re here to help. Check out these tips for living on a budget in the big city.
How to Reduce Rent in a Big City
Contrary to popular belief, changing your living situation is one of the easiest ways to cut costs if you live in a big city. I know, I know. Everyone says it’s super expensive to live in the city. While that may be true, there are also a lot more options than you might think. While you may not end up with a large, pristine apartment for the money you spend, you can do things to make sure that rent doesn’t eat up your entire paycheck. For example:
Get a Roommate
Yep, the quickest way to cut down rent is to find a roommate. It’s often much cheaper to split the price of a two bedroom than to pay for a studio or one bedroom on your own. And you don’t have to stop at one roommate – why not several? You may find a great 3, 4, or even 5 bedroom apartment to share. While this may sound crazy, you’ll likely find that big city work and social schedules make it unusual for everyone to be at home at the same time. And it’s much easier to split utilities and chores when there are several other people in the mix.
If you’ve looked into this and still can’t meet your cost requirement, you may want to consider sharing a studio or one bedroom with one other person. Just make sure that you will be okay with having a lot less personal space and not having a room to call your own. At worst, keep this as a temporary measure if you’re just starting out.
Move to a Less “Cool” Neighborhood
Why is it so expensive to live in big cities? Because there are more people trying to live there. The same goes for neighborhoods. If you’re trying to move into the most sought-after neighborhood in your city then get ready to pay more for less space. By simply choosing a neighborhood that’s further away from the action or deemed as less “cool,” you can save yourself a ton of money on rent and probably even end up in a nicer apartment.
Choose a Less Updated Apartment
Couldn’t care less about a nice apartment? You’re in luck. Maybe you just have to be in the coolest neighborhood or hate the idea of commuting. You still have options. Save yourself some money by signing a lease on an apartment that is smaller and devoid of some modern amenities like a dishwasher. If you’re just looking for a place to crash, this might be the best option for you.
How to Earn More Money in a Big City
What kind of hours are you working? In big cities people tend to work longer hours. However, this isn’t always the case. So if you’re off at 5pm every day or have otherwise predictable hours, get a side hustle to earn extra income. Big cities typically offer more options for generating extra income. You may even find jobs you’ve never heard of before! Were you a babysitter in high school? Try nannying. Nannies in big cities can make upwards of $20/hour. The same goes for tutors (who honestly can make even four times that amount). Like dogs? Well, you may not have seen many dog walkers where you come from but in a city where no one has backyards, dog walkers are vital. So do a little research on your talents and interests and you’ll probably find abundant chances to earn some extra money.
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What if you’re one of the many who work more hours than you can barely handle? A side hustle is out of the question. So what can you do? Work for a raise. That may seem impossible and, for some in this economy, it may be. But there are things you can do to attempt an increase in income. Don’t just go to your job each day and accomplish what you’re told to do. Find new ways to add value and increase your worth. This could include learning new skills to make you better at what you do or even pitching new projects and ideas to your boss. By thinking outside of the box and finding ways to add value, you’re showing your company that you’re not just a typical worker trying to clock in and collect a paycheck. This won’t guarantee a raise but in expanding your skills and challenging yourself to do more for your company, there’s really nothing to lose.
How to Have Cheap Fun in the Big City
Yes, there are a ton of things to do in a big city and, yes, they can often cost a lot. If you’re trying to get front row seats to the ballet on opening night or want to spend Friday night at the trendiest new restaurant, you’ll pay top dollar. But there is a way to enjoy these same activities without breaking the bank.
Take advantage of free events
Big cities aren’t only known for performing arts and big ticket events. There are plenty of fun, quirky, and free things to do! Lots of big cities offer green space in the middle of it all so plan a picnic with your friends and relax while taking in the sights. You can also check out street fairs that tend to move from block to block during the summer, free concerts and movie screenings, art openings for up and coming artists, and so much more. Grab your local events magazine or bookmark their website to stay up to date on what’s happening.
Attend during off hours
So you really want to see the newest play or exhibit at the museum? Go during off hours. A quick look at the venue’s website will likely show you First Fridays for Free, donation based weekdays, and so on. Almost all museums and other venues offer a less expensive ways to enjoy arts and culture. The same goes for restaurants. If there’s an expensive restaurant that you just have to try, go at lunchtime. Many five star restaurants offer prix fixe prices during lunch so you can enjoy the same food on the cheap. And if you have to see that opera on a Friday night? Go for the nosebleed seats! Maybe you won’t be front and center but you’ll still get to experience the event in person and have some money in your wallet when it’s over.
Look for deals
One thing a lot of people forget about is that a bigger city has more retailers and therefore more competition. What does that mean for you? Lower prices! Skip the big name stores you know and love. Independent retailers are great places to get used books for $1, mani/pedis for $20, and a whole new outfit for under $100. Just venture out of the tourists spots and you could be amazed by what you find.
It’s true. You can live on a budget while enjoying big city life. All you have to do is a little research and thinking outside of the box. But hey, you might end up discovering things you love about the city that you’d never have known about otherwise!