A woman biking in the city on a bike lane

How to Live Frugally in the City

• Take advantage of public transportation options like buses, trains, cycling, and carpooling to save money. 

• Purchase used items from thrift stores or second-hand shops rather than buying new things to save money. 

• Shop for groceries at different stores to take advantage of discounts and promotions. 

• Buy local goods and services to support your local economy. 

• Take advantage of the city’s free or low-cost medical care options, such as free annual checkups and dental services.

Living in a city can be expensive. Although it’s a great way to experience all the city has to offer, it can be hard on your wallet. With a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness, you can find ways to save money while still enjoying all of the conveniences and amenities that come with city living. Here are some tips on budgeting smartly while living in the city.

Take Advantage Of Public Transportation

Public transportation is among the most reliable—and affordable—forms of transportation. Whether it’s buses or trains, public transportation can help you get where you need to go without having to spend a fortune on gas or find parking. Not only that, but many cities offer discounted fares for students or seniors, so take advantage of any deals your city might have. You can also try other means of going to work or just around the city, like the following:


Cities usually have dedicated bike lanes, making it easier and safer to cycle around town. Invest in a bicycle and use it for commuting or leisure rides. Aside from being a great way to save fuel, cycling can also be a great form of exercise. It also lessens your carbon footprint, helping the environment.

Walk or Carpool

If you live in a city with good public transportation options, there’s no need to drive everywhere. Walking is free and can also help you explore and take in all the sights the city offers. And if you do have a car, try carpooling—it’s an especially great option if you and your teammates live close by.

Purchase Used Items Whenever Possible

It might be tempting to buy new items all the time, but used items can often be just as good and far more affordable. Many thrift stores in cities offer gently used clothing and furniture at a fraction of the cost of buying something new. You can also look for second-hand appliances or electronics, which could save you a lot of money.

Shop Around For Groceries

If you live in an area with multiple grocery stores within proximity, try shopping around for produce and other items. Many stores offer discounts throughout the week or special promotions for certain items. You can also try the following options:

Buy Local When You Can

Buying locally will not only help support your local economy but can save you money as well. Look for locally produced goods and services and opt for them whenever possible. Some cities also offer discounts or incentives for shopping at local stores and businesses, so look out for those too!

A woman in holding a bag of fresh produce bought from a local market

Bulk Groceries

Opt for buying groceries in bulk when possible—it’s usually cheaper, and you get more for your money. Look for stores that offer discounts on bulk items, and make sure to only purchase the amount you need to avoid wasting food.

Take Advantage of Low-Cost Medical Care

The cost of healthcare can be a major expense for city dwellers. However, many cities have clinics that offer free or low-cost medical care. You might even be eligible for free health insurance through local programs. You can also take advantage of the following:

Free Annual Checkups

Many cities offer free annual checkups at local clinics or health centers. Take advantage of these if you can. Free checkups do not mean you won’t get quality care—the staff at these clinics are trained professionals, and you’ll still receive quality medical care.

Discounted Prescriptions

Look for pharmacies that offer discounts on medications, and talk to your doctor about getting generic versions of the medications you need. These can be much cheaper than name-brand drugs and work just as well.

A male doctor writing a prescription for a patient

Low-Cost Dental Procedures

If you need dental care, look for dentists who offer discounted services. Many cities have clinics or community health centers that provide free or low-cost cleaning, checkup, and other dental procedures. If you have been bothered by the gap in your teeth and have been hesitant to go for a dental implant due to its high cost, low-cost dental implants are also available to help you out. This way, you can still get quality dental care at an affordable price.

Following these tips can save money while still enjoying city life. With a little research and resourcefulness, you can find ways to live frugally in the city without sacrificing the things that make it great.

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