Whether you’re a recent college graduate or deep into the executive years of your career, living in a city offers its residents plenty of financial incentives.
GOBankingRates spoke to Matthew Alschen, CFP and wealth analyst at Round Table Wealth Management, about the economic benefits of city living from his own personal experience and from the counsel of a financial analyst.
Access to Public Transit
Alschen lived in a suburb for several years and knew the necessity of relying on and owning a car. Before graduating from college in New Jersey, Alschen received an employment offer at an accounting firm outside of Manhattan in Fort Lee. His apartment search centered around nearby neighborhoods with parking since he owned a car at the time. Eventually, Alschen found an apartment that checked off every box: clean, affordable, ample street parking and convenient to both shops and grocery stores and public transit if needed.
Alschen said the key phrase is “if needed” because at first, he really didn’t need or consider public transit.
“I used my car to get everywhere, including times I would visit friends in the city since it was never during rush hour,” said Alschen. “Life was good until having a car proved to be more of a luxury than a necessity.”
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As Alschen moved into another role at a different firm in lower Manhattan, owning a car become more and more inconvenient. Because he no longer needed it, he sold his car and took advantage of the buses and shuttles available in front of his building. Once he got accustomed to public transit and walking, the decision meant no more car-related expenses as an added line item in his monthly budget.
Individuals that live in the city may receive the same kind of accessible transportation advantages. You can travel by walking, biking or using public transportation like trains and buses to save money on gas, car insurance and maintenance costs.
New Career Opportunities
Living in a more remote area may make it more challenging to receive the same career opportunities afforded to those living in urban cities.
Alschen said he finds career opportunities to be plentiful in urban centers. He uses the example that in his industry, many clients already live and work in cities. The city itself is always a hub of activity. That leads to opportunities where individuals may network personally and professionally and easily reach their target community simply by living in the city.
In addition to career opportunities, living in a city also means close proximity to colleges and universities. Professionals who decide they would like to go back to school to pursue a new degree or advance their education may do so without needing to make a big move.
Proximity to Grocery Stores
Individuals living in a suburb might have one grocery store or a few eateries within walking distance, but most usually rely on cars and driving to reach the closest grocery stores and shopping centers. Not having close proximity to grocery stores may also result in buying in bulk at warehouse clubs or other stores to ensure you don’t need to continually make the drive back and forth to get everything you need.
Alschen, who has three Trader Joe’s locations on his subway line, said being close to grocery stores makes his life much simpler.
“I normally do not do bulk shopping, but I buy incrementally and as needed,” said Alschen. “Being that I live in a smaller space, I do not consume more than I can store.”
Living in a city usually means there is greater convenience to airport transit hubs for travel purposes. This saves travelers time and money spent on the road as they head to an airport to travel out of town.
Alschen said he uses his Metrocard to get to JFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport) and books an inexpensive rideshare ride if he needs to fly out of LaGuardia Airport.
Arts and Culture
While Alschen said initially arts and culture was not high on the list of priorities for moving to the city, the proximity and availability of arts and entertainment has grown to become something he not only appreciates but loves about city life.
“It’s become an almost essential part of where I choose to live. My quality of life has been greatly enhanced by the depth and variety of cultural events and attractions year-round,” said Alschen.
Overall, It Can Work to Your Financial Advantage
While the words “city” and “expensive” always tend to coexist, Alschen said living frugally, while it does require effort and deliberate planning, can be done.
City dwellers can always find ways to be resourceful in everything they do — from looking for events that are low to no cost to utilizing public transit and walking to get around — and use these strategies to keep overall monthly expenses low while enjoying life in their favorite major city.
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