While Vancouver is known for being one of the best cities in the world, it’s also known for being one of the least affordable cities in the world. We pay a lot to live in such a beautiful place, and unfortunately it adds up quickly in bills and stress.
With gas prices and real estate costs through the roof (figuratively, anyway), can we afford to live here? Is it possible to manage without taking on extra jobs or living in a shoebox? Here are four ways to ‘trim the fat’ on costs while living in Vancouver:
Say no to bars and restaurants (and save $480/month)
Do you buy something from your local coffee shop every day ($4-8)? Do you go to the bar every weekend ($30-50)? Do you dine out with friends or your partner multiple times per week ($40-100+)? While Vancouver is definitely a hot spot for eating and drinking, costs can add up quickly if you’re worried about paying your bills.
Let’s assume you spend $4 on one coffee a day, dish out $40 at the bar every weekend, and dine out twice a week at $25 per meal. If you cut out these three things for 30 days, you’ll save at least $480. That can go a long way after a few months.
Instead, make your own coffee in the morning (or drink it at work if they have a machine). Plan your meals for the week. Go grocery shopping so you can make appetizing dinners at home and bring your own lunch to work. And forget about those drinks at the bar–you can find more wallet-friendly ways to spend time with friends.
Cut down on subscriptions (and save $50/month)
These days, we have more subscriptions than we think. Netflix ($10-17), internet ($30-50), and phone bills are only a few of the common ones many of us pay for monthly. Look at your itemized bills to see how much you’re spending. Did you go over your usage last month? Internet and wireless providers sometimes match new promos for loyal customers. Maybe you don’t need Netflix right now, and maybe you don’t need such expensive home internet. Do you still pay for cable? It’s time to cut back on those subscriptions.
Downsize (and save $500/month)
When it comes to renting an apartment in Vancouver, the struggle is real. 22 percent of renters spend over half their pay cheques on housing, which unsurprisingly is higher than the national average. If you can move to a smaller place–even if it’s just for a year or two–you can save a lot. It’s important to not live beyond your means. The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment at $2100. Try to move away from the city centre and downsize to cut down on rent and utility costs. And if you have too much stuff, storage lockers start at $____, which is much easier on the budget than spending an extra $500-800 a month to live in a bigger apartment.
Ditch the car (and save $1000+/month)
There are many reasons to not have a car in Vancouver: parking ($100), insurance ($150), gas (cost varies), and maintenance (unlimited) come with some of the highest prices in the country. If you’re leasing the vehicle, your monthly costs are even higher. If you can get rid of your car–or at least park it on private property and cancel the insurance for a few months–you can save hundreds if not thousands per month. Car-sharing programs like Car2go and Zipcar, combined with a decent public transit system, gives you plenty of alternatives for getting around.
If all of the above applies to you, you could save over $2000 a month. Invest that money now, and see where you are in a few years!