It’s a pretty common story, one that thousands of recent grads have experienced. You finished school, and maybe you’re tired of the city where you studied. Maybe you were raised in a small town like I was, and you feel that it’s time to start your adult life completely anew in an exciting city filled with opportunities and culture and different things to do. You’re a free spirit! So you move to New York or San Francisco or Washington, D.C., or any one of the number of urban centers that attract young professionals. Then, unexpectedly, you get slammed with the cost of living. Here’s how you survive it all:
1. Don’t be afraid to live in an uncool part of town and/or with roommates. You’ll save oodles.
Perhaps the biggest expense you’ll have when you move to a new city is rent. And in many of the hippest cities, the rent is just too damn high. On the other hand, you’d be surprised by what you can find if you spend lots of time looking.
In most big cities, public transportation makes the whole city very accessible, so don’t feel compelled to live in the coolest part of town. Check out the outskirts of the city, be sure it’s safe, and consider living with roommates. Taking these steps alone can save you thousands of dollars a year.
2. When going out, explore restaurants, bars, and clubs that are off the beaten path.
When you first move to a new city, you’ll probably ask around or do some Internet searching for places to hang out, eat, drink, and have fun. Invariably, you’ll be sucked in to the most popular places. While there’s nothing wrong with this, popular places in big cities carry with them a very heavy price tag.
Personally, the best people to ask for recommendations are local college students, who’ll direct you to the cheaper, and, in many ways, more interesting places. If you want to check out a restaurant, consider trying spots in ethnic enclaves, where you’ll eat authentic, interesting food, and it’s usually all pretty dirty cheap.
3. Learn to be okay with staying in a few nights a week.
Perhaps the main reason that you moved to a new big city is that you wanted some excitement in your life. Trust me, however, that the nightlife of even the coolest city can get pretty old. The City is definitely a consuming place that beckons you to come out and play constantly. But a little peace and quiet can be good for you emotionally, physically, and financially.
Personally, when I decided to try spending less money in Washington, D.C., where I first lived after graduating, all I did was commit to stay in, make my own dinner, and chill out by myself at least three days a week. This saved me hundreds of dollars, and I was able to complete reading books in a year than I had in the previous four years. I learned a lot about the world and myself, all by just staying in and relaxing.
By following the above mentioned tips, all of a sudden, D.C. wasn’t the exorbitantly expensive city it was for me when I first moved there. I could actually save money, and I was still having fun, in more careful moderation, which made those fun moments even more fun. No matter what city you live, you too, can cut corners without sacrificing too much excitement. Good luck!