Moving is stressful. Moving to a more expensive place is hella stressful. But try not to panic; it’s possible to move and still live within your means, and at a rate you’re more comfortable with. By adopting a new, super-frugal mindset, you can save yourself major bucks, despite a hike in rent, and plug into your new community without spending all of your extra cash.
Here are some easy tips for saving money on a daily basis, finding affordable housing and transportation, and keeping your budget in check when you move to a city with a high cost of living.
1. Don’t Choose The Nicest (Or Second-Nicest) Part Of Town
Live in the part of town you can actually afford, is safe, and has the closest average rent to what you’ve been used to paying. Housing costs are going to be higher than you’re used to, so you have to really do your research before signing a lease. Check into every possibility so you know for sure if you’re moving into the most affordable place.
Don’t forget to check on the amenities included. Does the apartment building have a gym pass, free parking, or any other perks? Is that rented house close to work — and of equal importance, shopping areas? Write a list of all the pros and cons of each place so you can compare. One apartment might cost you less in rent, but more in transportation. You have to look at the whole picture if you want to keep costs as frugal as possible.
2. Don’t Eat Out All The Time
It’s unbearably tempting to try every single restaurant in your new town, but that’s just going to drain your bank account. Instead, eat in as often as possible, and set a limit to how many times you can eat out a month. Try to limit dinners out to once a month, and lunches out to once a week. This way, you avoid spending oodles on dinner, and instead can try out restaurants during the cheaper lunch hours.
If you know you’ll struggle with this, assign a restaurant budget to yourself. Pull out a specific amount of cash each month for you to use solely for eating out. This will help you determine if you really really want to order the $17 shrimp salad or go for the cheaper lunch combo so you can go out to eat again next week. Promise yourself that you won’t use your card(s) to pay for restaurants, take-out, or impromptu happy hours. This practice helps you become more aware of how much you spend on food and alcohol so you can save your money for the important things, like new shoes.
3. Take Advantage Of Free Events
The best way to explore your new, expensive city is to try out the free activities. Public places, like parks and libraries, are great for this. Libraries typically host events for free, like book clubs or classes (plus, you can get a library card for little to no money instead of dropping cash at Barnes & Noble all the time). Parks, museums, and special one-time events will allow you to meet new people and become familiar with your new surroundings on the cheap.
You can also try to make costly events free if they pertain to your work. Ask your boss if the company will pay for local networking events, conferences, and seminars. Most companies will, because it benefits the company in the long-run. Hey, the worst your boss can say is “no.”
4. Workout For Free As Long As Possible
Exercise studios often offer free classes to newbies. When you move to an expensive place, it can seem impossible to afford a gym or studio. However, you have the one-time opportunity to use those free classes. Traditional gyms, as well as yoga, Pilates, barre, and spin studios, normally let newcomers take classes and use the space for a week free of charge. If there are a lot of these places in your area, you could easily exercise for free for at least a month. This also allows you to test out different exercise environments and attitudes so you know which place is the best fit for you and your budget.
5. Say “Yes” To Free Food
You should always, always, always treat yourself to any free snacks or drinks provided at your place of work. Don’t be a snack hog, of course, but don’t feel cheap for eating oatmeal from the community office pantry instead of bringing your lunch. It might not seem like it helps that much, but in the long run, it adds up.
6. Travel Smart
Use public transportation if available, drive as little as possible, and walk or bike when you can. Gas is a major expense when you’re driving your car around all the time. Unless you live in a place with public transportation, driving is necessary, but you can cut down on gas prices by driving less or carpooling every chance you get. If you can walk somewhere, do. If you have a bike, ride it. Call Uber instead of a traditional taxi (depending on where you live). Transportation is one of those expenses you don’t notice, so it’s imperative you become mindful of it when you move to a more expensive place.
7. Get A Roommate
Living alone can be peaceful, but paying all of the rent and utilities on your own is not. Moving is already going to cost you more. You might as well make it easier on yourself by finding a roommate to help out. (And no, your dog or cat does not count.)
Terra is an Arkansas-based writer who spends her free time obsessing over her planner, debating between working out or eating, and singing to her dog, Gatsby, even though he hates it. She also writes for Earn, Spend, Live blogs here.
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