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By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and What to Eat When You’re Broke
Common wisdom is that city living is outrageously expensive and filled with pricey pitfalls. But a savvy urbanite can save a lot of money by taking advantage of a lifestyle that is only available in more populous places.
Due to a medical issue, I’m living in a city apartment for the next year or so. While the higher rent is rather dismaying, when I sat down and really looked at my budget, there are a lot of ways to save in the city. And we’ve talked before about the importance of your attitude and your gratitude, so I rounded up a list of awesome, thrifty things about city life.
The very first way that city living can save you a fortune is that, in many cases, you can completely ditch your vehicle. Within a quick walk (less than 15 minutes) of my apartment, I can find two different grocery stores, a variety of restaurants and cafes if I want to eat out, a dollar store, three different liquidation outlets, a public library, and two very nice parks.
Your mileage may vary, of course, but the convenience of being able to use your own two feet for transportation is pretty nice. Not only are you saving money on the expenses of maintaining a vehicle, but you’re also getting exercise by walking and carrying your things home.
What if the place you want to go is too far away to walk to? You may be wondering about getting from A to B if B is further away than you’d like to go on foot.
For me, my health issue is mobility-related, so any walking I can do is pretty limited. I still find that I don’t need a vehicle because public transit is so accessible here. I am a two-minute walk from a bus stop that will get me anywhere in the region. Bus fare is cheap, and bus passes are great investments for folks who use the city bus frequently. Yes, it takes more time to get places, but I like to spend that time with headphones on, listening to music or an audiobook. Sometimes I like to read on the bus, and sometimes I just people watch. It’s actually kind of nice downtime.
On occasion I will also use an Uber or a Lyft if I need to get someplace faster than the bus will take me. Because of my central location, fares are usually lower than when I lived further away, and since I don’t spend money on car payments, insurance, and repairs, this works easily into my budget.
Every once in a while, I rent a car for a couple of days and run errands that I can’t easily manage without one. This is still far less money than maintaining a vehicle of my own.
3.) Time-saving convenience
Another bonus to city living is that a lot of shops offer free or low-cost delivery within a certain area. I can make purchases and have them at my door in very short order. I often do this with heavier groceries that might be tough to manage on my own. Things like canned goods, gallon jugs of water, kitty litter, and other weighty supplies are mine quickly and I don’t even have to spend the time going to the store.
Also, when I do need to go myself to run an errand, it’s nearly always close at hand and takes far less time to accomplish than when I lived further out.
4.) Access to more shops
As I mentioned before, I’m super close to two different grocery stores as well as a plethora of other options. A wise shopper can quickly identify which shops have the best prices on certain necessities and make the rounds to take advantage of those deals. When I am walking, I call this “hunting and gathering” because I work it into my daily routine to visit different shops on different days for the things I was planning to buy.
This DOES require some self-discipline, of course. It’s easy to get lured in by all the beautiful displays and interesting things you didn’t know you needed. I resolve this by bringing cash for my shopping in the amount I need for what I’m planning to buy.
5.) Free activities
Being thrifty doesn’t mean you don’t want to have fun. The great thing about city living is that there are constantly free (or very low-cost) activities. The public library, the local parks, and other nearby venues offer free concerts, festivals, and even outdoor movies in the summer. In the winter, the museums all have one day a week with free admission. When the weather is nice, there is yoga in the park every day at 2 pm.
If you pay attention, you can nearly always find some free or cheap local entertainment.
Heck, I can watch the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve fireworks from my patio – it’s the best possible seat available for things like this.
Are you a city dweller?
City living isn’t ideal for everyone, but at this time in my life, when I need to be near medical treatment, it’s far more convenient for me. It helps me to manage an otherwise difficult situation, and I’ve always been a person who was able to find the bright side.
If you are put in a scenario that may not be your ideal situation, you can make it better by looking for ways to use it to your advantage. And that’s exactly what I’m doing here.
Do you have other thrifty tips for urbanites? How do you save money in the city? Have you found ways to offset the higher rent by finding local resources or transportation?
Let’s discuss it in the comments section.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.