How to survive an expensive city on a budget


The cost of living in cities like New York and San Francisco are higher than ever. Rent and daily expenses burden everyone living in these metropolitan areas, whether you’re a recent graduate or a working professional. Follow these next few tips to survive on a budget and be smart with your money.

Create a budget and track your spending.

First step: sit down with your bank account, and calculate your total income, expenses (both flexible and fixed), and savings. By doing this, you’ll have a general sense of your weekly or monthly budget. Some people suggest the 50-20-30 plan: allocating 50% of income to necessities, 20% to savings, and 30% to other lifestyle choices. If you’re strategic about that last category (entertainment, shopping, dining), you can reduce that percentage even more. Shop at flea markets and thrift stores, get a public library card, go to museums on free days, and take public transportation or walk. Simple, smarter choices like these can help you stick to your budget.
track spending

Find a side hustle.

In today’s day and age, more and more people work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Some side cash never hurt anybody, so if you have any free time, find another job. It doesn’t have to be an official gig; rather, it can be something small that works for your schedule and lifestyle. If you’re a gym junkie, work at your favorite studio or gym for a free or discounted membership. If you like dogs and want to be more active, get on Wag. Babysit for your cousin. Anything. These small, word-of-mouth opportunities can help pay for that drink at Happy Hour and relieve your spending budget.

Cook for yourself as much as possible.

No doubt, you’ll be tempted to frequent the many high-end bars and renowned restaurants these cities have to offer. While you can splurge at times and treat yourself when a friend or parent is visiting, restrain yourself from eating out every day. You’re probably paying $x/month for your kitchen, so you might as well make use of it. Use coupons or get discounts at your local grocery store or find cheap, fresh produce at a farmers market. Cook dinners and pack lunches. If you can’t find the time to, then go to a bodega or grab cheap street food. And don’t even think about Seamless or Uber Eats.
cook at home

Reduce subscriptions.

It’s easy to forget what services you’re paying for every month, especially if payments are automatic. Start paying attention to your monthly bills, and identify services you don’t really need and costs you can cut out. Do you need both Netflix and Hulu? How much do you actually use Amazon Prime? You can also ask your roommates or family members for joint subscriptions and memberships, which reduces costs for everyone.

Live at Common.

For the average American, housing costs are the single biggest drag on budget. Avoid paying for the high broker’s fees as well as all the hidden costs of moving by living at Common. At one all-inclusive rent, you can live in the heart of New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. without stressing about your budget. Not only will you get your own fully furnished, private bedroom, but you’ll also enjoy the beautiful shared spaces, amenities, and community events.

Living in an expensive city on a budget is difficult, but not impossible, especially if you choose to live at Common. Learn more about our homes here.

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