Moving is exciting. Budgeting is stressful. Moving to a new city with a higher cost of living while trying to stay within budget is a unique combination of exciting and stressful. You want to explore the new city and discover your new favorite spots, restaurants and shops, but you also have to follow the rules of your budget.
From choosing the best neighborhood suitable to you and your budget to gym hopping until you find your favorite gym, here are six rules to stay on budget in a new city.
1. Don’t choose the trendiest part of town.
Most cities have a nice, trendy neighborhood where everyone wants to live, but this neighborhood is often the most expensive to live in. Instead, choose a neighborhood that is safe and affordable. You may not live in the most popular neighborhood, but with a lot of research, you can to find a neighborhood close-by that is more affordable and is often similar to the most popular neighborhood. For example, many young people moving to New York City want to live in Brooklyn, but you can find more affordable, just a bit less trendy neighborhoods in Queens and the Bronx where your money goes a lot further.
Unless you move to a city that is spread out and requires you own a car, choose an apartment close to public transportation to help cut out all expenses of owning a car. Use public transportation, or if you’re going somewhere close by, walk or ride a bike. Many cities have bike sharing programs that are a big money saver. (Whatever you do, avoid falling into an after-hours taxi trap that can quickly ruin your budget!)
3. Attend Free/Discounted Events
Most cities offer free events such as outdoor concerts, plays, and festivals. Instead of buying a ticket to attend an event, check out a free event. You get the same experience, and you’re saving money. Many cities also offer low cost event memberships, letting you buy deeply discounted tickets to shows and concerts. In New York City, for example, check out Club Free Time’s offerings.
4. Take Advantage of Public Spaces
Explore parks in your new city. Check out books at the public library. Spend a day at a public museum. You can also take advantage of free classes or clubs that public libraries and museum offer, which is a great way to meet people in your new city for free.
5. Gym Hop
If your new apartment doesn’t have a gym, try different gyms nearby to find the one you like best. Most gyms offer newcomers a certain number of free classes, personal trainer sessions, or a certain number of days to use the equipment in hopes the newcomer will become a member. You won’t be able to gym hop forever, but you can take advantage of free workouts until you exhaust all the nearby gyms.
5. Limit How Often You Eat Out
Trying new restaurants several times per week is enticing, but eating out too often is expensive. Set a limit to how many times per month you can afford to eat out including breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Lunch is often cheaper than dinner, so you might limit yourself to two dinners out per month and four lunches out per month. Another way to stay in budget is to limit how much money you can spend at restaurants per month; this way, it may be easier to avoid eating out if it’s the middle of the month and you’ve almost hit your limit. Also, utilize discount coupons and daily deals as you try out your new neighborhood’s offerings.
If you want to go out with your friends or new coworkers, make sure you go out during happy hour. Most places that have happy hour serve food and drinks at a discounted price. This way you can eat, have fun with your friends, and save money.