How to Save in an Expensive City


Most Expensive Cities in the US

It’s a common practice for management to raise their employees’ salaries every year to account for the increase in the cost of living (COLA) to help them maintain their lifestyles. These raises are calculated off of a cost of living index, but are typically around 3% of your annual salary. That small increase can make a significant difference for some, while for others, it’s necessary just to get by.

The cost of living in high-demand areas like major cities can make a difference in something as big as your rent to something as small as a dozen eggs at your local grocery store. Just because the costs are high doesn’t mean you can’t save! We’ll take a look at some of the most expensive cities in the U.S., and we’ll explore how to save more!

Most Expensive Cities in the U.S.

From rent to the average cup of joe, the cost of living varies greatly among cities in the U.S. Here are the cities that top the list for the most expensive places to live in the U.S.1

New York line art skyline

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San Francisco

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San Jose

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Orange County

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Washington D.C.

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Ways to Save More


People often overestimate how much stuff they truly need versus how much they are used to having around. You may choose to rent a place just based off of how much stuff you currently own, but you should really be looking at how much of that stuff you can discard. Take a serious look at your belongings and take inventory of what actually matters and what you can do without — it may affect the space you choose next. If you can downsize, you’ll be able to save more for life events, travel and more.


Negotiate Your Rent           

Not all landlords are open to negotiating rent, but it’s always worth it to ask. Take a look at what other apartments in the area are going for and see if they are competitive. If they are, go through the amenities that come with your apartment — will you use them? For example, if your apartment comes with a parking spot but you don’t have a car, talk with the landlord to see if they will lower the monthly cost if you don’t need the space.


Take Advantage of Your Busy City

There are many convenience-based businesses you can take part of in your free time to make some extra funds on the side. Residents of big cities (and sometimes small ones too) can take advantage of on-call ride shares like Uber, dog walking with Wag! and renting out space through AirBnB. These app-powered businesses let you work however many hours you’d like, whenever you’d like. The flexibility makes it less like a chore and more like a convenient way to pad your income.


Use Alternate Transportation

While not every major metropolis has award-winning public transit, there are viable alternatives even in the worst scenarios. If the weather allows, choose biking! Not only is it good for the environment, it’s good for your heart health and financial health. Look up used bikes on Craigslist to save if you’re in the market for a new bike.


Bored? See Your Tax Dollars at Work

Going to the movies could cost you and a friend over $20. Add on popcorn and snacks? You’re talking a big night out for your wallet. The parks department in many major cities will sponsor free events throughout the year. Check out the website of your favorite museum for free days. Your city might also sponsor movies in the park, live music and more — check out your park district’s website for a calendar of events.



1CBS News. (February 6, 2014). 10 most expensive cities in America. Retrieved March 31, 2017, from

Barbara Davidson


Babs is a Senior Content Writer and financial guru. She loves exploring fresh ways to save more and enjoy life on a budget! When she’s not writing, you’ll find her binge-watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos!