Compared to other big cities, Chicago isn’t nearly as expensive, but this doesn’t mean cheap. According to BestPlaces, Chicago’s cost of living is 117.8, compared to the national average of 100. The biggest factor in cost of living is housing. Transportation is also much more expensive when compared to other cities throughout the country.
Despite its high cost of living, there are many things you can do to reduce your monthly expenses so that you have more money to put into your savings account or towards paying off debt. Keep reading to learn about the many ways you can reduce your cost of living in the Windy City.
Despite #Chicago's high cost of living, there are many things you can do to reduce your monthly# expenses and reduce your cost of living in the Windy City.Click To Tweet
As stated above, housing is one of the most expensive costs you’ll incur as a Chicagoan. According to Zillow, home values in the city are expected to increase 4.3%. This is great news if you already own a home. For buyers, increasing home values often mean increased list and sale prices. The median list price of homes in the city is $319,500 while most homes sell for $264,600.
Rent is not much cheaper, averaging around $1,750. While you may have very little control over the housing market or what apartment complexes charge for rent, you do have a say in where you decide to live. Like most cities, downtown Chicago is the most expensive area to live in, so to cut costs, you can simply go a few miles in any direction and spend a lot less money.
Some of the least affordable Chicago suburbs include:
- Lake Station
By living in one of these suburbs, you can save hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars on rent and housing fees. The good news is that you can live in one of these areas while still being within good distance to downtown.
Utilities are likely to be your second highest expense when living in Chicago. For a 912 square foot home, you can expect to pay around $118. Larger homes can cost well above $200 for heating, gas, and electric costs. While you don’t have much say in what energy companies charge, you have great control over how much energy you use on a daily basis.
For example, you can save money by simply turning off lights when you aren’t using them. Switching to energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs is another way to save a few dollars on your energy bill. Other money saving options include:
- Unplugging devices when not in use
- Using timers and power strips
- Switching to a smart thermostat
- Using energy efficient appliances
- Repairing leaky/drafty windows and doors
Aside from energy costs, your monthly utility bill will also include services like internet, cable, and phone. There are several different providers in Chicago that offer these services. This means you can search around for the best price before committing.
Are you unsure of where to start your search? You can find the best internet providers in Chicago on Digital Exits. The site gives information about each provider and offers pricing data so that you can determine which provider best meets your needs and budget. Before choosing a provider, don’t forget to contact those you’re most interested in to inquire about discounts and promotions. This can save you tons of money each month!
Aside from home and utility expenses, you’ll also want to factor in the cost of getting around. If you have a car, you’ll need to pay for a City Vehicle Sticker. This is an annual expense that is priced based on the size of your car. For example, a regular-sized vehicle costs $85.97 while a SUV will cost $136.54 annually.
Along with these costs you’ll also need to pay for gas, repairs, and maintenance. Though gas prices were once soaring, they have slowly declined. Most Chicagoans are paying around $2.25 per gallon at the pumps.
To save money, you could minimize use of your vehicle and use public transportation to get around. Chicago has many options for public transportation, including bus and subway services. The Chicago Transit Authority offers an unlimited monthly pass for $100.
Compared to the price of gas and other vehicle fees, it seems much cheaper to use public transportation when possible. You’ll also find carpool and bikeshare services around the city. These are especially useful if you live and work in the downtown area.
It’s no surprise that living in a big city like Chicago is expensive. But, there are ways you can reduce your cost of living to offset those expenses that you don’t have much control over. Be sure to use these tips to lower your monthly living costs so that you have more funds available at the end of each month.
Have you considered living in Chicago?
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