How to save money when moving to a new city

Moving to a new city is all about coordination and good time organisation. The only rule of thumb is the more time you give yourself, the better. Additionally, there are many smart things you can do to smoothen out the process of moving. One of the primary problems people face is managing their budget during this period of transition. This is what causes bad surprises at the end of the month and no one wants their memory of first moving to be tainted with the struggle of having to count every penny. Ideally, you should book your accommodation in advance so you can start organising your arrival in the city. About one third of your wage should go towards your rent. You can cross reference multiple articles you read about neighborhoods in the city and check the apartment building and location using street view on Google Maps. Always keep in mind the season. If your are going to study abroad, do an internship or work, it is important to consider that some periods of the year are busier than others. For example, towards the end of August and start of September. Nevertheless, here is a list of things you can do prior and upon arrival to ease of your budget!

Put your emergency kit together

Your emergency kit is not your medical kit, it is your kit of everything you need on a daily basis. Before leaving your country of origin it is a good idea to buy a fresh supply of your basic products, cremes, toothpaste, disinfectant, etc. Why? Well first because you don’t necessarily have time to buy all of it on your first day but also because in that way you can buy them in the stores you are familiar with which you know offer discounts or interesting deals. Upon arriving you might not be aware of which supermarkets offer the best deals on these types of products, this leaves you some time to figure that out which brings us to the nest topic: Research!

Research, research, research

This might seem to be a given to you, but sometimes people don’t research their destinations enough. Others do but tend to miss out on some things. The clue is to think about what information you would have liked to know when you were moving to your city of origin. What didn’t you know when you first moved there and what would you have liked to know? The chances are that you will want to know these things about your new destination too!

Research the different transportation methods. What are the supermarket brands available in that country or are there local markets organised in your neighborhood or near your university/office? Going to the market and sourcing your vegetables and fruit from local suppliers means you can both help the community but also save some money on fish and meat. If you’re into fitness, then you might want to research the parks in your neighborhood to see if they are runner friendly and if they have an open air fitness center. This could save you a lot of money as you don't really have to pay for a gym subscription. Finally, moving in to a new accommodation, even furnished, requires some decorating. If only to make it feel a little more like home. IKEA is of course always a good idea, but if you are not agile with tools, don’t have any or don’t know anyone that can help you, you might have to hire someone to build it which costs money. Also check local selling platforms and stores. Each country has its own Craigslist. You could also check Facebook groups by searching for terms such as ‘Second hand in X city’ or ‘Re-selling in X’, whatever your city is.

Speak to locals

It is very important to gather information from the people who know everything about the city. What could take weeks to figure out yourselves, might just be solved in a 2 minute conversation with a local. Prior to your departure there are already many ways of speaking to locals. If you are a student, we suggest you ask as many questions to the international office of the university. Or even better, join the your university's Facebook group and get in contact with other students directly. In that way you are sure to get student friendly advice. If you’re not a student, Facebook is still a great starting point. There are millions of groups which represent millions of communities, for example “English living in Madrid” or “Baseball players in London”, by finding a community which resembles you, you will not only be gathering information from locals, but also speaking with like minded people who you can potentially start friendships with!

Test runs

Now that we have spoken about things you can do before leaving, let’s talk about what you can do upon your arrival. Even if you have done your research thoroughly it is important you test it out. Try the different ways you can commute, check the different supermarkets that are available, see which drug store or chemist is closest to you, etc! Basically all things you will need to do on a daily or weekly basis. This is important because sometimes even if an option is slightly more expensive, it might be worth it if the cheaper option is further away or just the least convenient to get to.

Take advantage of free tours

Finally, free tours are available in most large cities and are often given in English. Even if you are not very interested in learning about the history of your new city, tours are a great way to be guided around the different neighbourhoods, get to know more about the culture and customs (really important as this will affect your lifestyle a a lot), but also find some cute cafes and restaurants, parks, libraries, etc.

To conclude, there is a lot of thought that goes into preparing for a trip and even more upon arrival. The slogan “don’t leave to tomorrow what you can do today” could not be more appropriate. You have made a life changing decision and it is important that you make sure you do everything for it to go smoothly. If only because the more you are organised, the quicker you can get settled down and the sooner you can start enjoying your new city and having the best time!

This article was written in collaboration with Housing Anywhere.