Hey Skint pals,
As you know, I love to get out of the city to go camping, but I’ll always, always be a city dweller. I just can’t imagine not being able to walk to a coffee shop and to but a newspaper every morning. (My newspaper addiction has got me in some financial hot water over the years but I remain stubbornly compelled to buy one every day).
Recently though I’ve been thinking about the financial costs of living in the city v the country, after some good friends of mine recently moved out of London and back up to rural Scotland. In one fell swoop they went from a two bedroom city flat to being able to afford a detached house with tones of space and stunning views across woods and fields.
I live in Glasgow, where prices aren’t as crazy as London. They are, however, far far than in many smaller towns and rural areas. Plainly put, I could get a lot more for my money if chez Skint moved to a greener place. But Skint pals, I just know I never will.
I’m destined to be a city dweller all of my life and the only way to handle it is to use every trick in the book to ensure that I can still enjoy the urban lifestyle, even during the months when my finances are a poor as a churchmouse’s.
Temptation is everywhere in the city. On every corner there’s a department store flashing cosmetics like candy; at the end of your office block there’s a window displaying a gorgeous, designer handbag that whispers to you every time you pass. Even your lunchtime ventures to the sandwich shop are littered with inducements to buy a smoothie or a giant fruit salad or any number of other things that can sneakily sap £100 from your monthly salary.
So, what to do when the temptations of the city glitter in front of you but your budget’s looking tighter than your skinny jeans? Cheat. Get clever. Learn the shortcuts and the tricks that make city living on a budget not just possible but tons of fun.
- Do the Deals: Don’t pay full price for nights out. Don’t pay full price for dinner. Hell, don’t pay full price for any form of entertainment – that includes getting your hair cut, nails done and impromptu weeknight catch-ups with friends. Whilst we all know about the major deal sites like Groupon, often the ones more local to your area have more interesting deals because the know your city better. In Glasgow and Edinburgh, itison is the site that locals turn to for the most interesting events, such as Halloween drive-in movie deals in the park (because horror films are always more scary when you can look up and see a real full moon). In London, the SkintLondon crew promise fab adventures that’ll never cost more than a tenner.
- Love thy Neighbours: Whilst living cheek-by-jowl in the city brings its own trials (my neighbour is watching the football just now – I can hear it through the wall), it also makes life very convenient if you want to pool resources with those living around you. Whether its organising a rota with other parents in the street to take the kids to school or chipping in with nearby pals on the cost of a lawnmower which you all share, there’s a lot of clout when you’re part of a crowd. Money saving ventures like freecycle work best in cities too.
- Ditch the Car: No need to own a car in the city. Cheaper and easier to go for a mix of public transport, bike, judicious use of taxis and car clubs for those days when you really do need a run-around. Car clubs are a great idea in my book, summing up what I love best about city living. They’re convenient and feel very carefree to me – why shouldn’t cars be pay-as-you-go?.
- Steal the Style: Cities are a melting pot of ideas. When it comes to looking stylish for less, cities are the best place to check out the latest trends and then copy them on the cheap. Nothing beats riding the top deck of a bus through the city, clocking people’s outfits and allowing yourself to be inspired. Not only are cities the very best places to hone your magpie eyes, they’re the greatest for thrift stores, vintage shops and clothes swaps.
What do you think Skint pals? Are you fans of city living or all about the green green grass of the country? And if you’re an urban sort, what are your top tips for surviving and thriving in the city?
Photo credit: http://www.gdefon.com