5 Ways City Living Can SAVE You Money

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

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.

1.) Walkability

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.

2.) Transportation

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.

About Daisy

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 FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of TheOrganicPrepper.com, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

8 thoughts on “5 Ways City Living Can SAVE You Money”

  1. For shopping to walkable distance stores … hand carrying loads of whatever limits you quite a bit. A good work-around I’ve used for many years is a fold-up 2-wheel airline luggage cart. With a huge duffel bag tied to it you can come home with a hig load of groceries you wouldn’t dare try to hand carry. My 2-wheeled cart is rated for loads of up 150 pounds and lets me balance the load so I only need to use one hand to easily pull it. There are several such foldable carts on Amazon. Oh, while most of my routes are concrete paved … there are a few grassy patches which the cart’s two wheels can handle easily.

    If one’s store is far enough away to justify taking either public transportation or phoning for an Uber rider, that folding cart system can still be very handy on both the buying and the unloading end.

    –Lewis

    1. You’re right about the cart for hauling things. However, a word of caution: when we lived overseas and didn’t have a car, I used one of those portable trolleys to take groceries home. I tore my rotator cuff from repeatedly lifting it up onto the city bus.

  2. Perks of City living:
    1) In my city, people are always putting things out to the curb/sidewalk that they are no longer using. Free to anyone who wants them. It ranges from furniture, household items, clothes, books, bikes, jewelry, sports equipment etc!
    2) There are lots of yard/lawn sales.
    3) Thrift stores have great finds because it is where the well-to-do donate their clothes etc and you can buy things for a reasonable price.
    4) In a larger city, competition, keeps grocery prices lower than in a small town. More sales.
    5) Bike riding with a small trailer helps with errands.
    6) Some restaurants have a little stand, where, at the end of the day they put out fruits and vegetables that need to be used ASAP.
    7) Lots of “Little Free Libraries” (cupboard on a post), where you can leave and take books for free.
    8) Pantries on a post – with nonperishables in it for the neighbourhood, “Take what you need. Give what you can”.
    9) Community Gardens
    10) Easier to find like-minded people to become friends with!

  3. My city has a great system of bicycle trails that are also walkable. Our electric buses are always clean and they are free to ride. The 2 wheel carts work great on the paths, sidewalks, and on the buses despite this being Montana and we do get snow. I bought several of the reuseable grocery bags for shopping. If you are going to use the carts and ride the bus check first on the size limits, I enjoy the bus ride on Saturdays to the farmers market in the summer.

  4. My son-in-law lived in a city and used the bus system but had a bicycle for other appointments and such if too far from the bus. Busses here have bicycle carriers on the front and don’t cost extra. Buses only connect to direct routes so the bicycle added the ability to get around more of the city.
    As a kid living in Glendale, CA I rode a bicycle to school including crossing major roads in town. I had a basket for my books. It was easier than walking the route and much faster. I lived in town briefly as a wife and mother with two little boys. I used a tall wheeled basket to haul laundry to and from the laundromat. It worked fine and carried a lot.
    My son after his truck was stolen was living in a city for a while. He used Walmart grocery delivery.
    My grandson is currently employed as a Walmart shopper for curbside pickups that many handicapped or seniors are using. My small town doesn’t have delivery yet. There is a van you can call to get out and go shopping or pick up groceries. There is also a handicapped van and a senior citizens van to go to specific places and then home again.
    I’ve been blessed to live out of even a small town and have good friends who will take me places as needed but when my truck is running I take them or haul things for friends. Right now a friend is “my wheels” until I can get a new battery this month.

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