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There are a lot of advantages to living in a city. Cities offer a wide variety of people, foods, art, work, cultural, experiences that most small towns do not. They also offer convenience. In a city running out to the store isn’t usually a big deal. Residents rarely have to drive for hours to be able to shop somewhere that isn’t a grocery store. There are also far more options for health care and treatments than exist in rural areas. That said, there is one big disadvantage that comes with living in a city: city life is expensive.
Whether you’re living in Dallas, Chicago, Portland, New York, LA, Seattle, Washington DC, etc, you will spend more than you do if you were to live in the suburbs or rural areas of those same states. That said, there are some things you can do to reduce your cost of living.
Reduce Your Utility Costs
If you are lucky enough to live in a state that has deregulated its energy industry, take advantage of the expanded market by shopping around. For example, if you’re living in Chicago, shop around to find out which Illinois electricity suppliers are offering the best prices in the city. You can save a ton of money just by switching providers.
Even if your city is still subject to state regulations, you can reduce your bill by calling your power company. Ask them about each of the fees and taxes levvied on your bill. Many companies will waive these costs if you ask them, especially if you can prove that they are charging you more than they should.
And, of course, there dozens of different ways to reduce your energy consumption no matter where you live. Choose the methods that work best for your living situation!
When you live in a city, roommates are just a way of life. Unlike what you might have seen in pop culture shows, the need for a roommate doesn’t just disappear once you hit 30 or get full time employment. Having roommates makes life cheaper for everybody. You’ll share the rent (or have portions of your mortgage payment covered), and the utility costs. If you have a good relationship with your roommates, you might even be able to share the costs of food and entertainment. After all, why pay for three Netflix subscriptions when Netflix allows people to set up multiple profiles on a single account?
Of course, when you do share your living space you want to thoroughly vet every potential roommate. Do not simply let your gut guide you. Run as thorough a background check as possible. Ask for references. Better yet, work your social network first–everybody knows somebody who is looking for a new place.
One of the most popular tips for helping people save money is “use the library instead of buying books at Barnes and Noble!” This is a fantastic tip, but why not take it a step further? Pick up your city’s local free weekly newspapers and scour them for free entertainment.
For example, in the summer, most city parks offer free movie screenings. The movies won’t be new releases but the experience will still be fun. Community centers and coffee shops often host independent musicians. Go to readings at the bookstore or your local library. You can also find a bunch of different local Twitter accounts that are dedicated to letting people know about free or low cost entertainment options.
Yes, you read that right. Volunteering is a fantastic way to give back to your community, a great way to network and–if you can score the right gig–a great way to get free access to opportunities that might have otherwise cost some major bucks. For instance, volunteer as an usher for your local art house theater or concert hall. You’ll get to see all sorts of great A-listers in exchange for cleaning up before and after each event or for tearing tickets.
Yes, living in cities is more expensive than living rurally or suburbanly. The great thing about city life, however, is that you have a lot more options available to you if you need to reduce your cost of living!