5 Ways to Save Money When Living in a Big City

Aug 03

Living in the big city has benefits. There’s culture, nightlife, and everything at your fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With that said, it can put a serious dent in the old bank account. Rent, food, gas, and monthly car payments pile up faster than trash on the sidewalk during a garbage strike. Use readily available cheap alternatives to live large in the city.

Use Public Transportation 


Image via Flickr by Cem K.

In Boston, Mass., there’s the “T” (stands for transportation, very cleverly). In New York it’s the subway. San Francisco, the trolleys. In every big city there’s public transportation ready to get you to all corners of the city. Usually, the subway stops hit all the big attractions anyway.

Take public transportation and save big time. Buy monthly or yearly tickets to save even more. In most cities you won’t need a car. Sell it and forget those lofty car insurance payments altogether. It will cost you big bucks just to park it anyway.

Renting an Apartment

New York rentals rates haven’t changed since rent control laws crafted in 1943. Thanks to these powerful laws, some apartments rent for much less than others. Yes, they’re extremely hard to find. Landlords find ways to flout these laws. So, if you find one never move out.

If you can’t find a rent control apartment, team up with some friends and split rent. Search for cheaper New York, San Francisco, or Chicago apartments at ForRent.com. Another option to consider, which most cities offer, is qualified rental assistance.

Shop at Thrift Shops


Image via Flickr by Orin Zebest

Cities are infamous for overpricing everything, even their second-hand stores. Yes, thrift stores in New York need to pay their rent. But do some real hunting and you’ll find discounted items in the Big Apple that won’t take a big bite out of your wallet. Avoid the Goodwill and Salvation Army brand-name thrift stores. Stick with lesser-known thrift stores like Housing Works (NYC) and locally owned shops.

For real deals, check out the newspaper for yard sales in ritzy parts of town. Find clothing, home decorations, records, shoes, books, and more at cheaper prices.

Clip Coupons

Competition between stores in the large markets of New York, Chicago, and other big cities is cutthroat. You can cut your way to serious savings by opening the Sunday paper. That’s a $5 investment in New York City, but shop smart and you’ll rack up much more in total savings.

Enjoy Free Fun

Cities always have free entertainment like music, art museums, shows, and exhibits. Take advantage; it’s all part of living the city life. You’ll also find plenty of people like you with limited funds but an appetite for fun. Connect with them and simply enjoy each other’s company. That’s still free.

If you enjoy big city life, don’t let the threat of high prices run you off. Get creative and use these tips to live cheaper in any city. It’ll make your experience much more of an enjoyable one.