I recently moved from the suburbs to a major city. I have always had a love for the city; from the sound of roaring traffic and the crowds of people to the sense of community that comes with living in an urban environment. The cost of living downtown can be expensive, but there are some creative ways to help keep the cost of living and playing within your budget.
City Shopping on a Budget
Unlike suburbia where your life is filled with grocers, big-name department stores and a Target within a 10-minute drive, shopping in the city offers local deals, culture and unique retail spots in an exciting atmosphere. I know how much we all love our big box deals, and I can personally say that not having a Target within a 2-mile radius of my apartment building is heartbreaking.
However, farmers markets are a great place to find the necessities on a budget. You can find fresh, organic, homegrown goods at reasonable prices. One tip for visiting the farmers market is to go an hour or two before closing time; vendors usually don’t want to travel with a surplus of goods, so you can usually get a great deal.
When shopping for clothing, you have the ability to shop for unique styles from one-of-a-kind boutiques. One thing I love about shopping local are the relationships you build when shopping small businesses. Your shopping experience changes from the impersonal checkout line to chatting with the owner about neighborhood events and gatherings. The downtown setting can also be a great place to shop for home décor. Visiting your local flea market or vintage shop allows you to snag a unique piece of furniture at a low price and upcycle your bargain to a new modern statement piece.
Entertaining on a Dime
In the suburbs, the local movie theater seems to be the usual Friday night hangout. However, living in the city allows you to explore and be entertained without spending that $10 on a movie ticket There are endless possibilities for entertainment when you live in downtown setting. This can be something as easy as taking an evening bike ride around the city with a friend, which usually costs next to nothing, unless you stop for ice cream on the way home! If you’re the artsy type, check out a local music venue or art museum; you’ll usually be able to find a well-known band playing or a traveling exhibit.
One of my personal favorite things about living in the city are the free community activities to get involved in. Like most cities, Detroit offers many events like “Yoga in the Park” where you can relax and enjoy nature with friends and engage with members of your community. There are also social gatherings such as holiday parades, music festivals, and wine/eatery events. Check out your local community resource center; they can offer some worthwhile tips and pointers.
Cash-Saving Commuting Alternatives
Living in a city, you’ll realize that driving is inefficient compared to walking or biking any day of the week. Another money-saver is the local bus system or mass transit. For only a couple dollars a ride, these are cost-effective alternatives when you need to travel within or outside the city or are commuting on rainy days. Driving your vehicle could also be another method of travel, but when you’re living in a downtown setting, many things are within walking distance. Add some extra steps to your pedometer and try eliminating the expense of a vehicle by walking, biking or using cost-effective city transportation.
The next time you think about moving to a downtown area, think of all the possibilities you’ll have to explore: parks, getting involved in your local community, supporting small business and still saving money at the same time. Take a trip to a major city this summer. See what places like Detroit, Chicago, downtown Cleveland or New York City have to offer – you might fall in love and find yourself living the city slicker life.