City Survival: How to live in an expensive city and save money.

Published by SuccessHackr. Read the full article at

Having lived in Birmingham for three years before moving to the promise land, London, I almost keeled over and died when comparing expenses. I used to be able to go down to the local pub in Birmingham and get a pint that would rarely exceed three pounds (sometimes two for £3, hollaaaa) but in London, when I’m preparing to pay for a couple of beers I’ve got – at the very least – a tenner in my hand. I once went to a pub near Kew Bridge where I got a double gin and tonic at the barman’s recommendation (keeping in mind an elderly lady had just asked me if I was homeless) and do you know how much it cost me? £36. THIRTY-SIX POUNDS. I took the glass, obviously, because I assume they’re free game at that price.


Whether it’s London, Bristol, Oxford; or further afield to New York, Tokyo, Paris, and Sydney- you can assure yourself that any city that promises fun and success, will also promise to relieve you of all your money. From living in London for a few years, I’ve watched the rapid gentrification of each area; which is great when combatting knife and gun crime, but not so great that it seems to be pushing out families who’s hometown has been London for generations. With these cities leading the economical climates across the world, housing prices have soared- and it’s not the rich bankers who are being affected.


So, how can you save money when you’re barely scraping together your rent every month?


  1. Having a savings account in your current account


After having fraud on both my bankcards last October, creating a savings account within your current account is one of my nifty ideas that I, obviously, highly recommend. When I called up Barclays to ask why I couldn’t buy my 15 reduced-price-maple-pecan-pastries (see point 3), the lady on the other end of the phone asked me if I’d ‘been to LA high street recently’, and that when my answer was that I’d never even been to California, she confirmed to me that there had been fraud on my card. Slightly bewildered by the question she’d asked me, I was left wondering- is there really only one specific high street for the whole of Los Angeles?


By doing this, you can’t just withdraw money from the cash machine- you have to log on to online banking with that adorable card reader they give you and transfer the money back in to your main current account. So, if you do this, you don’t just help to protect yourself from fraud, but you also protect yourself from you, specifically, drunk you. Before you go out, you can transfer most of your money in to your current-savings account, so that you don’t spend September’s hot water on a £36 gin and tonic. You are welcome.


  1. Travel.


According to an article in City A.M ‘[in 2014] the median salary in inner London was £34,473, which works out to an hourly rate of £16.57.

In a year’s worth of commuting, that would clock up to £1,773’. In comparison, New Yorkers face similar issues in concern to rising prices, and according to The Guardian, in 2015 ‘New York’s minimum wage [was] $8.75 an hour [… which means that] those earning minimum wage in the city have to work the equivalent of 13 hours just to be able to buy a monthly transit pass’.


When I was working a temporary job in central London, I had to commute for over an hour on the way there and then on the way back. This, by the way, was on the Bakerloo line, where a cloud of dust appears every time someone sits down, and where it seems more than likely that the authentic looking 70s décor looks so authentic because it is the genuine article. I spent about £45 a week just using the underground to get to work- one of these weeks collided with when I had fraud on my bankcards so I was forced to do some barrier jumping, something that made for some very sweaty and frightened journeys.


So, how do you cut down on travel costs? Bikes are your best friend- although I don’t recommend cycling through central London – or central any city – if you are inexperienced on a bike. I feel it’s appropriate to repeat my mum’s favourite words here: ‘always wear a helmet’. Also, I didn’t realise this until I lived in London, but everywhere in Zone 1 is literally next door to each other- so just walk it, lazybones. The phone app ‘Citymapper’ will even tell you how much money you save if you walk instead. I want no excuses New York, Sydney, and Paris- I’ve just checked, and Citymapper is available to you, too.



  1. Supermarket’s reduced section


Now, I don’t know what supermarkets they have across the world (whoever made Lidl and Aldi are heroes) but the reduced section is vital in spending really little money on good food. Obviously, sometimes, the reduced section may be made up of slightly obscure fruits (guava, I’m talking about you) and a cheesestring, but allas! Sometimes you hit the jackpot and there are avocados and chicken kievs galore.


‘I have survived on the reduced section in Tescos for the past five years’

                                                      – A genuine quote, from a genuine friend.


Now, this may seem like a joke, but honestly this is such a great way to reduce your food expenses way down, because those pennies and pounds really add up.



  1. Lentils


Yeh, you heard me.


If you’re really struggling with money, these bad boys are nutritious, and with some seasoning, they’re damn tasty. Not just lentils though, but there’s a whole variety of inexpensive pulses and beans out there; you may be poor but you’ve never looked so good. If you remember anything on your way to getting your dreams crushed in one of these fabulous cities, then remember this: lentils save lives.


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