Living Debt Free in a High Cost of Living Area

We live in one of the most expensive cities in the United States. Home prices continue to increase faster than most other major cities, but the high expenses don’t stop there. Utilities, transportation, food, healthcare, and taxes all on average are higher in this beautiful city. This post contains 5 ways to live debt free in a high cost of living city. 

Despite those odds stacked against our wallet, there are a lot of opportunities to save money and grow our side incomes while living in a high cost of living area. 


When living in a city with a high cost of living, it’s especially a huge help to know ways to save money. These 5 tips to save money when living in a high cost of living area will help you stretch your money.


What’s the cost of living like where you are?

Today I am going to share with you five ways to stretch your dollars while living in a big city on a budget. And how our family can live debt free at the same time! You will be able to walk away from this video today with a clear direction on what you can start doing today to help subsidize your expenses no matter where your live.

Leaving you with more room in your budget to spend where you value most!


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Before we dive in to these tips, I need to let you know about an extra bonus you get with today’s video! My friend Justine from Debt Free Millennials is also talking today about tips she has for living debt free in a high cost of living area. 

She is also a San Dieagan who has a great channel full of real life tips to help you live a debt free life and have fun along the way. So make sure to go give her channel a visit.


5 Ways to Live Debt Free in a High Cost of Living City

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel.



Use your resources or connections to find deals on housing

After graduating college in 2008 and 2009 hubby and I knew that we wanted to move back to San Diego where a large portion of our family still lived. So with no jobs we made the 18 hour drive back home from college. 

Through connections with people we knew we were able to both find jobs and a reasonably priced apartment to rent within four months of moving back. 

When we found out that our family was about to grow with a new baby, we were on the hunt for somewhere a tad bit bigger and safer to live. We let everyone we knew know that we were looking for somewhere to live. 

We mentioned it to friends, family, friends at church, and also posted it on social media. We also put in the hard work endlessly searching the classifieds for leads. Eventually the stars were aligned and we were blessed to rent a one bedroom apartment above the garage of a friend from church. 

Was it ideal? Nope. 600 square feet for a family of three and two dogs and eventually a family of four plus two dogs felt a little snug. But we made it work. The rent was a great deal and we were extremely grateful! 

When you are looking for a deal on your home to either rent or to buy, you need to make it known that you are looking and use your resources to spread the word. Then be patient and understand that your opportunity might not be the picture perfect scenario you were hoping for. 

Just remember to always be grateful for any opportunities that come your way. 


Take advantage of things like Groupon 

One of my favorite ways to save money that you find in big cities is being able to take advantage of discount sites like Groupon! You can find deals in a lot of cities all over the world, but in major cities there is definitely more options to choose from.

Hubby and I love using Groupon deals to lower the costs of our dates. Some of our favorites would be going on a high speed jet boat ride around San Diego bay or  playing tourist for a day and doing a self guided tour around downtown in a tiny little yellow go kart type thing. Both activities we saved over 50%!


Living in a big city can be expensive. Use these 5 tips to save money in a big city to help cut costs so you can spend your money where you value most. Living in a city with a high cost of living is hard, but using these tips to save money will make it a lot easier!

Free events all the time

Another cool financial benefit to living in a big city is that there is almost always something going on that is free or super cheap. This helps us continue to live debt free here, while still enjoying time with our family doing fun activities!

The average amount Americans spend on entertainment is just around $240 each month, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Well what if you did a quick Google search for your area and found something free going on instead of easily spending $50 this weekend going to the movies?

What could you do with an extra couple hundred dollars this year? I know you have some value based goals you would love to put that cash towards! 


Side hustle opportunities (Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, Turo)

There are also some great opportunities to earn a side income when you’re living in a big city to help supplement those high costs of living. 

I have a few friends here in San Diego that are able to earn an extra couple hundred dollars over the weekend doing gigs like driving for Uber, Lyft, or Grubhub. It’s easy and some like Uber Eats, can be done with kids in the car. 

Because of the high tourism here in San Diego, there are other opportunities like renting out your car through businesses like Turo. 


Live just outside the main part of the city

We just bought our first home in January of 2018. After 11 years of marriage it felt like the day was never going to come. The biggest challenge for us as first time home buyers shopping in such an expensive city was paying higher rents AND still trying to save up for the down payment. 

What we have learned is that it is crazy expensive to live within the city limits. So we decided to set our sites just outside of the city. Well, actually we are about 30 minutes from the city but still in San Diego County.

For the price we paid for our 3 bedroom house here in the mountains of San Diego on half an acre of land, would barely cover the payments for a two bedroom apartment in the City of San Diego with no yard at all. 

If your heart can’t leave an expensive city, you can significantly lower the cost of housing by looking in surrounding towns just outside of the city limits. 

These are all real life tips that our family and our friends have all used first-hand to make living in an expensive city a little less financially straining. I would love to know, where do you live and what have you done to live in an expensive city but still keep to a simple budget?

I know we have a lot of Pearls from New York, Canada, and Australia which are all really expensive places to live. So let’s hear it! What are your tips? Leave them down in the comments.

Make sure you go take a look at those comments yourself because our Pearls have a ton of great real life tips that offer so much value!

Thanks for stopping in. Talk to you soon! 




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    May 8, 2020 at 1:36 pm

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