My neighbor recently borrowed a weed wrench from the city we live in to cut down some annoying plants that grow near our place (buckthorn if you're plant savvy). Borrowing this from the local rental store would have certainly cost him a few bucks. This got me thinking about other ways a person can save money through their city or town. What does your hometown provide its residents free of charge (or at a reduced rate) – that might end up costing you if you didn't live there?
Here's a brief list of some of the things that I came across where I live and others I've heard municipalities offering to their residents:
- Internet. Here in Minneapolis, you can get free wireless service just by being a resident. Unfortunately, it doesn't cover where I live – but it is definitely a nice bonus for those living in and around the city proper. I know other cities are doing this too – and even Google is helping to get cities “wired”.
- Places to work out. In my hometown, there is an indoor field house which is great for the cold winters. You can walk/run inside when the temperatures get unbearable and you need to get “out” (even though you aren't really outside).
- Property info. Whenever you go to buy or sell a home, it's useful to know what others in the area have sold for and other pertinent property information. You can get most of this through your city office (or county) for free – and most often – online.
- Entertainment. In the summertime, there are loads of activities and events being offered by cities/towns everywhere. From carnivals to parades, to musical events, there is no shortage of things to keep you and your family occupied with no out-of-pocket expenses.
- Equipment. Like the weed wrench that was being offered by my hometown – there may be other tools and equipment your city may offer free of charge or at a nominal fee. Doesn't hurt researching or inquiring with a city admin.
- Disposal services. A lot of municipalities have places for you to drop off used electronics, motor oil, toxins and other miscellaneous waste.
- Advice/Education. Our city has its own “forestry division” where residents can obtain information regarding various landscaping questions and seek general counsel about their plants and trees. Many cities/counties offer similar services where residents can get expert advice on various matters without having to pay. One can also sign-up for community education classes that are cost-effective and cheaper avenues to learning a new skill/or advancing a hobby.
- Housing. If you are a person who is struggling to make ends meet and/or need housing, many cities/towns offer subsidized housing to individuals meeting certain criteria.
Are there other ways you have been able to save money through your hometown?