The cost of living in many cities is rising rapidly. Rental costs have increased to the point that many residents can no longer afford housing. However, these areas also hold more job opportunities for entry-level employees than less expensive rural or suburban areas. Therefore, it’s crucial to learn how to live on a modest salary in a high cost of living area. Continue reading for some tips on living and working in an expensive city.
Live out from the city center. You can save significantly on housing costs by living in the suburbs or neighboring towns. It may not be the glamorous city lifestyle you envisioned, but it’s practical for a modest budget. You’ll be spending more on gas and car maintenance so be sure the savings in housing offsets your additional transportation costs.
Carpool. It’s likely some of your neighbors, friends or coworkers commute to the city, so ask around to see if anyone is interested in carpooling. You’ll save a lot on fuel and maintenance costs over time, especially if you have several people in the carpool.
Ditch the car. If you really want (or need) to live in the city, you may save a lot of money by getting rid of your car. Owning a car in a dense urban area can get expensive, since parking is limited. Walk, bike, or take public transportation instead. Most, if not all, of what you need should be relatively close if you live in the city so a car becomes an unnecessary expense.
Get a roommate.Whether you live in the city or the suburbs, a roommate cuts your living expenses in half and can create a little breathing room in your budget. Depending on how pricey your city is, you may need more than one roommate. Worried about dealing with bad roommates? Read our advice for choosing a good roommate.
Create a budget, and stick to it. Having a budget can help curb your spending and allow you to pay all your bills in full and on time without going completely broke. Start off with your most important items (housing, food, utilities) and work your way down to discretionary spending. Since you’ll probably be estimating at first, research costs online so you’ll have the most accurate figures. Don’t forget to figure in emergency or unexpected expenses that inevitably pop up. For some budgeting help, read The Budget Kit: The Common Cents Money Management Workbook
Take advantage of free entertainment options. Going out to restaurants, movies, bars or clubs every week can get expensive. Invite your friends over to watch a movie, attend free concerts, and visit free/low-cost museums. Entertainment costs can be more easily managed than most expenses, so cut back in this area to make room for more important things like savings or paying off debt.
Living in or near a costly city requires financial and lifestyle sacrifices for most people. But the advantages of living in a city, including better career opportunities, can make the trade-offs worth it.