Most people who study and finish college will be left with that big ‘what now’ question hanging over their head. For some people, this question will have never entered their mind and will have had a set plan from the moment they stepped onto their university campus.

New York New York in Las Vegas
Werner Kunz via Compfight

Deciding what you do after university is a tough decision, do you move back to the town you grew up in for familiarity and a decent paying job or do you move to one of the big cities to compete with many other graduates. For those who have lived in a big city or been to university in an urban area this transition might be easy, but here are my tips on stretching your pennies in the city.

1. Eating Out

Eating out is a great social occasion and even more rewarding if you’re a poor cook, but realistically most people can’t afford to eat out 2-3 meals seven days a week. While being summoned by your friends or co-workers who may or may not make as much money as you can be tantalizing it isn’t always the worst thing to say ‘no’.

As with many indulgences, the more you tend to do it the less you tend to value it and eating out is no different; especially if you plough a few hours of your wages in to a sub-standard dining out experience. If you have friends in similar financial straits then utilize offers made by Groupon, Living Social and local establishments which may be offering promotions. You get to enjoy the social aspect of eating out whilst not living beyond your means, plus you may uncover a gem which you will fondly return to.

2. Travel

Getting to work can be a nightmare in a big city and even smaller cities with underdeveloped road infrastructures can be victims to heaving amounts of traffic. Cars aren’t particularly cheap to run anymore. When you consider increasing prices in insurance, maintenance and fuel it suddenly becomes a lot less appealing to have a car. Most big cities have developed public transport systems which should help you get from A to B easily.

If there are underground rail systems or subways then travel becomes easier as you won’t be dealing with traffic. I recommend cycling if possible. You can get a good quality second hand road bike and ride it around the city and even use it on the weekends for leisure.

Take a look at Craigslist to find the ideal second hand bike. It could add an extra ten minutes to your journey but could add an extra ten years to your life. Car pooling with other employees and chipping in for fuel is also another viable option for saving money. If the city you live in has lane dedicated to car pooling then your commute should be even quicker.

3. Having Fun

The advantage to big cities is that they possess a lot of diversity in terms of the entertainment on offer and invariably different price points. It makes sense to utilize the public entertainment venues such as museums, galleries and even local parks/zoos. Many of these public places are often free or require a small donation and it can be a great way to explore the city you have just moved to.

It’s worth checking out the local advertisements online or in-print to see what is going on in town. Many of these events also have promotional prices attached so you could save yourself money while enjoying yourself. is a good tool for discovering what events are on near you and you can decide what you would prefer to splash out on.

4. Your Living Situation

If you’ve ever lived in a big city before, you know that finding a place which suits your tastes, fits in with your budget and is close enough to work can be a nightmare. Some cities such as New York have very prohibitive rental prices and the space you are awarded for it isn’t particularly appealing either. Getting a mortgage is probably too big a step both financially and mentally in terms of commitment so here is where I will offer my advice.

Find a place which is accessible to your work by however you travel. Unless you work at home this is where you will be spending the majority of your time anyway. Even if it isn’t in the most lavish neighborhood, as long as you feel safe and comfortable that is all that matters. In terms of furnishing you can decide where you want to push the boat out and where to reign yourself in.

Buying a nice comfortable bed which is new is a good idea, but with so many people moving in and out of the city you will often find that people have to sell their stuff in a rush or will even offer it for free or next to nothing. Your apartment may not look like a catalog or brochure, but if it has character and it’s functional then that’s just as good right? Sites such as Craigslist and second hand mall are perfect for these types of bargains and you can even get the thrill of negotiating a better deal!

Adam Porteous is a social media executive for Stanton Fisher Ireland who has traveled, studied, lived and worked in the USA, UK and elsewhere.

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