Simple ways to save money when you live in an expensive city

Living in a big city has many advantages – you get to have access to vibrant cultures, good jobs and great services. But there are downsides too, usually when it comes to the cost of living. New research has shown that people under 30 are spending almost half their earnings on rent, and in some cases even more than half in London.

So what can you do to try to buffer the cost of living? Here are some ways that you can make life a little less costly without having to drop your lifestyle too drastically.

Location, location, location!

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Finding the right place to live in any city can be difficult. The prices can vary greatly depending on which area and property you choose. Have a think about the must-have’s that are important to you in any accommodation. If you know you don’t want a far commute then you should pick somewhere with good travel links (although property very close to stations will command higher rents). Similarly, if having your own place is important, you might be looking at studio or one bedroom apartments, but shouldering the costs by yourself might be difficult. You might find it more economical to join a flat-share. This way you can get the benefits of having a nicer apartment in a good location, but split the cost between a few of you and it almost always works out cheaper than going it alone.

If you are in the fortunate position to own in a city and have room, consider getting a lodger or using Airbnb to make some extra cash.


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If you live very centrally you might not have the need for a car – if you find you don’t use it that often then consider selling it. You’ll save money on all the running costs and get some extra cash from the sale. If you find yourself needing access to vehicles think about joining a car club service like Zipcar, where you pay a yearly membership and can use the cars whenever you need. It takes away the stress of car ownership, so you get all the benefits without any worry or added costs.


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Having many top-notch restaurants on your doorstep can make eating expensive. The temptation to grab something tasty whilst you are out is constantly there, but you’ll soon find yourself feeling the strain on your finances. But the great thing about living in a city is the easy access to great ingredients, from all over the world. Cities like London have traditional and farmers markets galore. Also check out your local high-street, you’ll often find that they offer various greengrocer, butchers and ethnic food stores where you can grab a bargain.

Of course you might not want to cook everyday and fancy grabbing a bite to eat so look out for special pop-ups or food markets that are packed with food stalls selling amazing cuisines for around £6 – £12 a pop.

Time for fun

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Every major city will have things for you to do and many of them will be free, ‘you just have to know where to look to find them,’ says consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch. ‘Search your local newspaper’s online event calendar for local listings.’ Also search via the net to find out what’s going on a little further afield. It’s a good idea to sign up to sites like Timeout so that you get sent relevant updates about what’s coming up, so you never need to miss a thing!


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