Home is always so much more than just a building. What makes a place your own is how it enriches and supports every aspect of your needs. It’s the environment you choose to inhabit. It’s the community you not just join but have a hand in building. This is why it is so important to take the time to make the best decisions for you. For many in the LGBTQ+ community, homes tend to be in bigger cities. This is largely a result of the prevalence of positive opportunities offered by city living.
Yes, there is some progress in smaller towns, but you’re unlikely to have the same amenities, relationship prospects, or opportunities you’ll find in a city. Yet, city living comes bundled with some challenges. The most prevalent of which is how city living can impact your financial health.
Let’s take a moment to look at how you can approach a move to the big city in a budget-conscious and sustainable way.
City Living Requires Financial Vigilance
The higher cost of living in cities means each new expense has the potential to push the boundaries of your finances a little further. This can easily spiral out of control. It’s therefore important to make certain your approach is subject to regular financial vigilance. This doesn’t mean counting every penny in a way that adds more stress to your life but rather empowering yourself to make more informed plans and decisions.
Let’s face it, knowing your financial state isn’t always comfortable — how many times have you felt the pang of anxiety when waiting for your bank balance at an ATM? But it gives you greater control over your life and helps you plan ahead. In a world where LGBTQ+ people are less likely to be homeowners, this commitment to financial awareness can be instrumental in helping you buck the trend and save for a downpayment. There are tech tools to help you to do this. Some of them are relatively straightforward, like banking apps that give you real-time information on your balance and messages when payments are made. You can also utilize simple accounting software, like Quicken, which can help you track the flow of your income and expenses or Intuit Mint which also gives you access to your ongoing credit score.
Before you make the move to the city, this financial vigilance can help you make the best possible start. It shows you what you can afford now and whether you’re likely to be able to maintain this. Whether you’re purchasing or renting, you should take the time to plan well in advance. Your rent or mortgage, and also the furniture you’ll need to buy, are likely to be significant expenses. Use your knowledge of your financial state to create a savings budget that suits your priorities. If you have a long timeline to prepare for the move, the 50/30/20 Rule can be practical. This is where 50% of your post-tax income goes to needs, like rent, utilities, and groceries. Thirty percent goes to wants, such as entertainment. The remaining 20% goes into savings. However, if you’re on a tighter time scale, it can be worth setting up automated savings with your bank that takes a larger percentage of your paycheck and keeps it aside for your move.
Location and Timing
Some cities will obviously be more expensive than others. Especially in cities like Nashville, with a rapid growth rate, it may seem that city living is outside of your budget. However, moving to a city is often about making compromises. Look outside the central metro areas, perhaps in neighborhoods currently undergoing development — unfinished or renewing neighborhoods spots can mean you can get a home at its lowest price point while improvements are being made. This doesn’t mean you should be engaging in or supporting the gentrification of, but be open to routes of affordability. One of your compromises might be living a commuter distance from central areas — this will generally mean you’ll find homes you can afford and still have practical access to the communities you value.
Another often overlooked factor in finding the right property is time. In general, the current climate is considered a good time to buy a property — both as personal property and as an investment. Interest rates are relatively low, and fewer first-time buyers are looking at the market. Federal and state governments often offer tax breaks to encourage homeownership, too. But alongside the general opportune moments, real estate is subject to seasonal fluctuations. Apartment prices can tend to rise in cities in the lead-up to new semesters due to the demand from university students. Winter is often the cheapest time to buy a home, as few people want to move during colder months, but the trade here is usually less inventory available. Take time to research the market fluctuations in your target city, and incorporate house hunting at slower times of the year as part of your moving plans.
Saving and Investing
For many people looking to move to a big city, savings and investments can seem like unattainable goals. However, they are essential to make certain you can both weather the hard times and have some sense of financial stability. As such, it’s worth taking the time to understand how you can succeed in your goal of city living.
Yes, working a percentage of your income for savings into your budget is a primary aspect of this. But it’s also about knowing where to put your money. Financial institutions have not always been friendly to gay couples, but there is an increasing movement for ensuring you can both find quality investments while also making sure the capital is put toward LGBTQ+ family-friendly businesses and organizations. One of the good points about city living is there is often greater access to information through the local community about investment schemes and organizations. Take time to talk to neighbors and friends, seek insights and experiences, and get recommendations about the relevant financial advisors and investment businesses.
Living in a big city can be a way to connect with a thriving community. However, you need to put some focus into maintaining financial literacy and researching where and when you can locate affordable properties. It’s not an insignificant amount of work to put in, but it’s essential for finding not just a house, but a home.