The Pros and Cons of Living in a City

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San Francisco Skyline

Excitement to make a big move can sometimes be distracting from the fact that you’re about to transition to a major US city with high rent prices and higher costs of living.

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There are many advantages to big city living, and of course, there are some disadvantages that come and go. Let’s start with those!

Cost of living

While salaries tend to be higher in major cities, this doesn’t always help with the high cost of living. There are definitely many expenses one may incur that one might not otherwise have to deal with when living in a big city, as well as prices of regular items being higher due to the higher concentration of people and therefore higher demand.


Many major cities share one thing: noise levels. In NYC, for example, it’s next to impossible to find an apartment that doesn’t have traffic, horns, sirens, and more right outside the window. While some major cities have more residential neighborhoods, these areas tend to still have a noise level higher than that of a suburb.

Lack of space

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Many apartments in larger cities, especially SF and NYC, are extremely small. Also, it’s fairly unusual to have any space outside of your apartment or home, like a yard or lawn. Living in a city typically means having to get creative with space, and being ok with sharing a few walls with neighbors.

Now, onto the good stuff. There are so many ways living in a big city can drastically improve your life.

Meeting new types of people

I hadn’t realized how stereotypically “New Jersey” I was until I moved 2,500 miles away. Since moving to San Francisco, I have met so many different types of people who have had extremely different life experiences than I have, something I didn’t really get a chance to do on the east coast. The thing about expensive cities is that they tend to be that way because they have more opportunity, more demand. This brings so many different types of folks to town to mix and mingle with.


Living in a major city makes it very difficult to be bored or not have anything to do. Whether you’re into bar hopping, trying new types of food, comedy shows, art museums, or Disney movie sing-a-longs, there’s almost always something going on.

Public Transportation

Although SF Muni has ruined many a morning and the BART is no NYC Subway, living in a major city provides many reasonable transportation options. Although some routes take longer than others, there isn’t really anywhere I can think of in the city that I couldn’t get to using public transportation if I really wanted to.

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Big Events

Adele or Springsteen going on a world tour? In need of a live baseball, basketball, or football game? All of the best artists and teams pass through the biggest and most populated cities, so you never have to worry about making a long journey to see your favorites or discover someone new. Also, having major sports teams around adds many fun outing opportunities.


Everything is more expensive in San Francisco, but this means that employers are (usually) going to adjust salaries accordingly.

Everyone is in the same boat

There are times when my friends and I will get creative and take a few weeks of planning fun activities that don’t involve spending money at all. There are so many different ways to take advantage of a major city without spending a dime: window shop, check out cheesy tourist locations, explore a new neighborhood and its street art, go for a walk/run, or just sit on a bench and people watch.

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