How to Be Financially Stable While Living in a Big City

Big city living has its perks. You’ll have access to top-tier options when it comes to nearly everything. From well-funded public transit systems to some of the very best job opportunities around, calling the city home is an experience that’s virtually unrivaled.

If you’re thinking about buying a house in a metropolitan area, though, you might have noticed that living there can be expensive. The median cost of a home in notoriously pricey cities like Los Angeles sits around $826,500.

Even in more reasonably priced major cities like Washington D.C., the median home price is still $672,000, and this isn’t even accounting for other cost-of-living expenses like food, transportation, and utilities.

Those who want to enjoy the most that big cities have to offer will need a way to do so without going broke. The following tips should provide you with some direction on how to make it while maintaining your financial stability.

Finding a Place to Call Home

Far and away, one of the greatest expenses of city life is the cost of shelter. If you’re going to stay financially stable in the city, you’ll need to consider what you’re going to be able to afford.

If your preference is to buy a home and lay down some roots, you have your work cut out for you. Home markets are often competitive within the city limits, and rising housing costs have made the barrier to entry that much tougher to cross.

Ask yourself, will you have enough for a down payment?

What about the additional costs associated with buying a home, like getting an inspection, or closing costs?

And this is all in addition to the fact that recent crises have thrown a wrench in the usual home-buying process in many areas. It’s going to be a long haul, so you’ll want to make certain you’re able to navigate the entire process without sapping your funds dry.

You’ll be doing yourself a favor if you can price out your home purchasing power well ahead of time, then use that figure to determine if trying to buy in the city is the right move for your current finances. You may learn that one area is out of your range, but another city that you hadn’t had on your radar is a much better match financially.

Of course, purchasing a home is not your only option if you feel the city is calling your name. You might instead rent a place to stay, such as an apartment, which is often a good option if you’re younger and not keen on settling down just yet.

Again, getting an idea of what you can afford is a wise first step. Generally speaking, you don’t want your rent to exceed 30% of your monthly income if you want to keep your finances steady. If you learn that you can’t cover the costs alone, it’s always worth trying to find a roommate who will help you shoulder the price of renting a spot, at least temporarily.

Stretching Your Dollars to the Max

There are plenty of ways you can make a limited income enough to sustain yourself. It will require at least some degree of sacrifice, however, and may also necessitate you to change some of your usual money-spending habits in order to compensate.

For example, you might be holding onto expenses you don’t need, like your car. In the city, it’s generally easier to get around on foot or via public transport, so you might be able to nix your car payment and insurance and put that money toward other expenses.

Alternatively, you could try cutting back on expenses in the home by canceling subscriptions, planning meals (and cooking at home), and shopping for your goods at the thriftier locations around town.

If you need help finding out what you can eliminate from your budget, there are plenty of apps out there that can help you analyze your spending habits and pinpoint the superfluous.

Starting That Side Hustle

On top of cutting back, you can also try to bring in some more money to help keep your finances in order. Let’s say, for example, you own a small fixer-upper property out in the country somewhere, and you’re planning on moving to a larger city for a job opportunity.

With a bit of effort, you could turn that property into something worthy of listing on Airbnb, after which you could rent it out as a vacation spot to help fund your adventures in the big city.

Don’t panic if you don’t have an extra place to rent out, however, as major cities usually offer plenty of other potential side hustles available to attempt.

You might decide to give package or food delivery a try if you have a spare set of wheels and a few hours in the evening or on weekends.

Alternatively, you may see what opportunities exist in your area for dog walking, babysitting, running errands, or whatever else you can do without committing yourself full time.

Bringing It All Together

Living in a major city may be expensive, but if you’re savvy, you can find ways to minimize your expenses, maximize your income, and fund your metropolitan adventures without hassle.

Remember that your greatest expense will usually be housing, so start by doing everything in your power to find shelter that falls well within your budget.

From there, it’s usually a matter of cutting small costs here and there while finding some low-intensity ways to bring in extra money. Bring that all together, and you should find city living to be much more manageable than you ever thought possible.

Dan Matthews is a freelance writer with a penchant for financial wisdom and solid research. You can find him on Twitter @danielmatthews0 and LinkedIn.

Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.