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Two years ago my partner and I made the decision to give up our Victorian-era home and move into a downtown apartment. Our decision was confusing to many of those closest to us; we were bombarded with questions about why we would want to move from a house into a small, cramped space in the bustle of downtown.
There are a lot of misconceptions about living downtown: it’s unsafe; it’s noisy; it’s more expensive; it’s not as clean. Unless you’ve experienced it, you may hold some of these vague notions in your mind. Perhaps the most surprising fact is that by moving downtown, we started saving more money than we ever expected.
Not convinced yet? Take a look at how we did it:
Rent vs. Mortgage: By moving, we cut our base housing costs by $500 a month. While the space is smaller, it’s ample enough for our needs. Along with the simple cost of a mortgage, we also removed the costs of lawn care, trash removal, and maintenance, saving another $300 a month.
Utilities: Where you choose to live will determine your utilities, of course, but most apartment buildings will pay some of them. A unique advantage to living in a high rise – as opposed to a traditional three or four story building – is that there are 10, 20, or more floors between you and the ground. That’s a lot of people heating their apartments in the winter and cooling them in the summer. Coupled with the insulation of fewer outside walls, it lowered our heating and cooling costs dramatically – to the tune of $100 less on our monthly electric alone.
Car Care: What would you pay to not have to drive in rush hour and park downtown? How about the price to not have to ride a commuter bus? By moving to within walking distance of work, we cut our commuting costs down to zero. And since our car is no longer racking up milage, our maintenance and gas costs have decreased as well. That’s another easy $100 or more each month.
Entertainment: You might think we’d spend more on entertainment. After all, we’re mere blocks from several theaters, an orchestra, a jazz club, and a host of glittering restaurants. The reality is that it’s far easier to take advantage of last minute deals when you don’t face the hassle of driving downtown and finding somewhere to park. We can get rush seating at the orchestra and theaters, grab a one-day only special from a restaurant, or see a $10 show at the jazz club with very little notice and no preparation.
These are the biggest ways we’ve saved so far, but there’s even more we could be doing to save money by living downtown. We’re considering giving up our car entirely and renting a car when we need to leave downtown. Because we live, work, shop, and play all in one area, our needs for a car are few.
Living downtown is not a lifestyle for everyone. There are more considerations than money, and serious things to think about before moving. But if the specter of spending more is all that’s keeping you from packing up and moving into the city, think again.