There are plenty of important factors to keep in mind when it comes to finding the perfect place to live. But many of these factors, such as location and style, come secondary to the one consideration that is usually non-negotiable: price. For many people, finding the lowest cost of living is the primary element used to make a decision about whether or not a new home is the right fit.
If you’re a budget-savvy consumer, chances are that finding a way to lower your cost of living is important to you. That’s where we come in! We’ve rounded up our top tips for finding the lowest cost of living in your area, so that your hard-earned cash can stay exactly where it belongs: in your wallet!
Lowest Cost of Living: Remember, Cost of living goes beyond rent
First of all, it’s important to realize that cost of living is not the same thing as rent! Sure, rent plays a pretty significant role. But if you want to cut your total cost of living, it’s important to consider the other smaller expenses that add up over time, such as cable bills, electricity bills, groceries, and fuel for your car.
For instance, let’s say you live in an apartment building with very low rent, that’s located in an overall expensive neighborhood. Even though your rent may be low, other factors such as dining, entertainment, transportation, shopping, health and beauty care, and utility bills might be sky-high thanks to the trendy and overpriced location.
Lowest Cost of Living: Get out of the city
Urban areas that are in close proximity to bars, restaurants, shopping and offices tend to be on the pricier side. It’s no secret why: everyone wants to live there, so they’re willing to pay a premium. Don’t be one of those people!
Instead, look for locations just outside the city center; close enough that you can still commute comfortably when necessary, but far enough away that your living costs will drop substantially.
Lowest Cost of Living: Find a roomie
Roommates are key when it comes to lowering your cost of living. Not only can you slash your rent in half, but you’ll also be splitting bills and other expenses. If your new roomie is as broke as you are, you could even have shared meals several nights a week. You both pitch in for groceries, and you both get to enjoy a fresh home-cooked meal. Win-win!
Lowest Cost of Living: Define “nice to have” vs. “need to have”
Determine which “optional” housing features you can live without, versus the ones that are worth splashing out on. For instance, is it a deal-breaker if your apartment doesn’t come with it’s own washing machine and dryer? Not necessarily, but be careful. Using public or communal laundry equipment will be pretty cheap, but renting your own for your apartment won’t be. In fact, if you’re renting for more than a year, it may actually be cheaper to buy!
Think about what features are necessary versus just nice to have before you set out looking for your new home, and you’ll have a clearer picture about whether the associated living costs actually match your budget.
Lowest Cost of Living: Consider a move
If you’re living in one of the most expensive U.S. cities like San Francisco or New York City, moving to a more affordable city until you gain some extra financial cushion may be a smart idea. Check out Forbes’ list of most affordable U.S. cities for some inspiration.
And don’t think that just because a city is cheap, that it’s not a fun place to live! There are some true gems on this list, like Greenville, South Carolina and Austin, Texas. Consider it an adventure!