If you want to live in the city on a budget, there are plenty of ways to do so. I recently collaborated with Brittany from Pennies into Pearls on how we live debt free and on a budget in San Diego.
When I was paying off $35,000 in student loan debt, I had always dreamed of having an urban living experience. I found it hard to believe that one could live in the city while making a sub-par salary.
But then it happened.
I actually figured out how to live in a city on a budget while I was paying off debt. And I still employ these ideas as a debt free millennial. Here are five ideas to help you live in the city on a budget.
Check out this great collab video I did on city living with Brittany from Pennies Into Pearls!
Look for free or discounted activities
The perks of living in a big city is that there are plenty of fun and free things to do. There are a ton of discounted activities, too if you use Groupon or Ebates. San Diego has great weather all year-round so a lot of activities happen outside. A few things I like to do while living in a big city is to walk the local parks, walk along the harbor, or see a parade.
San Diego has this great parade called the Festival of Lights in December where people decorate their yachts and sailboats with Christmas lights. Spectators can bring lawn chairs and watch from the shoreline and it’s free.
I also looked for ways to have fun while getting out of debt. No matter if you’re in the big city or still livin’ that small town life, I think it’s important that you use the resources around you to live yo’ life. I truly believe there is a balance to handling your money like a boss and living like a boss.
Rethink your transportation
When Kyle and I moved to San Diego, we sold my car back in Kansas thinking we might need to get a replacement for me. Turns out, my first job here was within walking distance to our place. And as I walked a mile to work and back every day, I realized that only having one car between us wasn’t so bad.
There is another millennial, Perla Chase, she runs a blog here called Your Girl Chase and she doesn’t have a car at all. She takes an Uber everywhere or she gets a ride from a friend. I know what you’re thinking. If you were like me and grew up in the Midwest, you can’t imagine functioning without a car.
But honestly, it’s not that hard and when you live in a big city, there are Ubers and Lyfts aplenty. Plus, you are saving a ton by not having a car. Even if you have a paid off car, you still have to maintain the vehicle which costs money. This includes insurance, registration, gas, oil changes, tires, and repairs. If you didn’t have a car, you could potentially save hundreds of dollars within the year.
Get a roommate
We all know that living in a big city most likely means the rent will be higher. This is especially true for San Diego. A one-bedroom apartment averages $1,564 and a two-bedroom apartment averages $2,030 per month, according to SmartAsset.
I know a lot of us love the idea of living alone or having that Carrie Bradshaw studio, and you can totally have that. Just know that what you can afford on your own may not have all of the amenities that you want. It may be rough on the edges. The windows might be single-paned and you might have to deal with the homeless drunk outside.
If you can’t settle for that, consider getting a roommate. In fact, Kyle and I have done this twice since we live in a two-bedroom apartment. Not only does it help us out financially, but that person also gets the benefit of living in a bigger place that has more amenities.
“A two-bedroom apartment in San Diego averages $2,030 per month.”
Live in the city on a budget by shopping smart for food
As cool as it is to bop down to the local Whole Foods, it doesn’t work for those of us on smaller budgets. I actually try to avoid shopping for food downtown unless I have forgotten an ingredient (which happens more often than I care to admit).
Instead, I will actually drive out of my way to get a good deal. I once drove 15 minutes down the freeway to go to an Aldi. And that’s not even that far. I make it a point to hunt out the best grocery store with the best prices. Even if it means I have to drive a bit further.
Minimize to maximize
I have to give a shout out to Annie from The LA Minimalist on this one. If you want to live in the city on a budget, expect to live in small spaces. The best way to maximize a small space is to minimize what you have. Annie has a great Instagram account that talks about how to live in small spaces without stuff and it’s really encouraged me to get rid of things I don’t use or need. And when you do that, you’ll see just how much space you actually have.
If you have plans to live as an urbanite, I highly suggest using the minimalism method to free yourself of things. Only keep the things you truly love. Get rid of the sweater you have held onto for five years thinking you’re going to wear it again. You won’t.
Carrie Bradshaw ain’t got nothin’ on your budget-friendly city livin’!
If you have dreams of living in a high-rise, walking to work, riding a Bird to the nearest bar, or simply listening to sirens every hour, you can. And you can do it on a budget, too! I’d love to know if you have plans to live in the city, what are some things you are doing right now to make that goal a reality?
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