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8 Ways to Save Money When Living in a Big City

Stacks of coins next to wooden house model and clock

If it's your first time moving to a bigger city, a big part of your lifestyle change will be how you handle money. In a bigger city, you can count on everything being slightly more expensive. This can especially be a problem if you're a student on a budget or a single parent with tight spending funds, etc. For people who might be planning to move soon and need some advice, we've put together this list of ways to save money when living in a big city.

Why is living in a big city expensive?

Big city living doesn't just mean staying at a property that can be found in such a city. It also encompasses all the usual living expenses like rent, bills, transportation, groceries, home upkeep, and more. The only difference is that these expenses are usually cranked up by at least twenty percent.

To give an example for better understanding, say you're moving to Manhattan; moving around in your own car to get from one part of NYC to another is going to use a lot more gas than having almost everything you need in a half-mile radius.

This is why you should do everything you can to save money when living in a big city.

Tip 1: Study up on the city you are moving to

Learning about the area you are moving to can be a big help when it comes to saving money. Make sure to look up what things will be more expensive when you move there, as well as what things have the potential to be cheaper. The point of this isn't to try and find ways to make expensive things less costly - it's to learn where your focus should be when it comes to saving, so you can have more money left over for the things you know you'll need it for.

To put this in perspective, here's an example. If you're moving to a city with many entertainment options and a booming service industry like Las Vegas or Los Angeles, the chances are that you won't be saving money when it comes to eating out. But if you're moving to a city with a good metro system like NYC, you know you'll be saving money by skipping out on owning a car.

Tip 2: Save up on the expenses of moving in

Saving money starts from the very beginning; this includes moving expenses. For instance, if you're moving away from home for the first time, even locals moving within a part of a big city such as Manhattan can be costly and time-consuming. When you boil down the gas and shipping vehicle renting expenses, it's much more economical to hire local Manhattan movers to get you there in no time. No matter where you decide to move, hiring movers can make the whole process become less stressful and much less expensive.

Tip 3: Don’t eat out a lot

Eating out and ordering pre-made food is the biggest money drainer when living in bigger cities. Treating yourself is fine occasionally, but if you need money, you should break out grandma's old cookbook. A simple sandwich takes three minutes to prepare, usually less time than you need to walk to the nearby deli. If you have a tight schedule, we advise preparing foods that can sit in the fridge and be microwaved for eating. Pre-made oatmeal is an excellent option for a cheap healthy breakfast.

This all mainly includes coffee shops. Making your own coffee is a lifesaver, especially if you drink it every morning.

Tip 4: Find your transportation of choice

We have touched on this previously in this article, but it's so important that it deserves its own place in it. If your city offers good public transportation options, the upkeep of owning a car isn't worth it. However, if the city you're moving to has bad or expensive public transportation coverage, having a car might be your only option.

A few other good savings options are bike riding, which helps with our health as much as our transportation, walking everywhere that you can walk, and less expensive taxi-like service options.

Of course, if the comfort of driving in your own car and having that space for yourself is very important, it's ok to splurge a bit. Just calculate what other things you should cut down on to make up for that money.

Tip 5: Be mindful with DIY projects

Do-it-yourself projects can be a great way to save money. If you know how to fix a sink, don't call a plumber to do it, it would just be a waste of money. If you're buying furniture that has to be put together, don't hire help; just be calm and follow the instructions. However, you should be careful about this. Call a professional if the task seems to be too outside of your comfort zone and skill level. It is always better to spend extra money on a sure thing than to risk it and end up with wasted time, money, materials, and energy. If you buy a hinge to fix a kitchen cabinet door and end up breaking the door, not only did you waste money on the now useless hinge, but hiring someone to fix an entire door is more expensive than hiring someone to replace a hinge.

Tip 6: Start an automatic savings account

A savings account can be a great way to always have some extra money on the side for a rainy day. This depends on the rigidity of your budget. A savings account is for you if you have some extra monthly income that you can't stop yourself from splurging with. However, if you are stuck living paycheck to paycheck, a savings account might cost you money.

Most commonly, there are two types of these accounts:

  1. A monthly deposit - This is where the bank takes a certain percentage of your balance at the end of every month and transfers it to a savings account;
  2. A direct salary deposit - This takes a percentage of your every salary into a savings account.

Living in a big city can be very unpredictable regarding financing. This is one of the best ways to save money when living in a big city because it prepares you for such unpredictability and lessens the chances of going into debt.

Tip 7: No more cable

In the past couple of years, cable has become a genuinely obsolete and way too expensive platform. You can get your news easily by following news outlets on social media and using their websites. As for entertainment, there are many subscription services available now that are much cheaper than cable.

In case you're worried about owning multiple subscription accounts, don't be. If you calculate the cost of cable, including all hidden fees and small print, you will see that owning five different subscriptions is usually still cheaper than cable.

Tip 8: Try not to be overwhelmed by personal financing

A big part of personal financing is that it can sometimes be very stressful, especially if you're new to it. It's always important to keep a cool head and good mental hygiene. There are great sources online that you can find to help you reduce things like anxiety through mental hygiene and real financing advice to ease your mind when it comes to saving money.

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The best ways to save money when living in a big city are the simplest

After all of these tips, you should be confident about your knowledge of the ways to save money when living in a big city. But all of this comes down to routine and habit. To be successful in saving money, you have to change your mindset. Whenever you have an option to buy something cheaper over something more expensive, choose the cheaper one. This includes branded and non-branded clothes, costly coffees, etc. We wish you luck in your new big-city life.


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