7 tips for living in one of the world's most expensive cities on a tight budget

7 tips for living in one of the world's most expensive cities on a tight budget
PHOTO: AFP

There's no shortage of buzz around the entrepreneur who's raised millions of dollars or just sold their start-up, but what about the struggles it often takes to get there?

Zack Schwartz, co-founder of MoreMate, a social and dating location-based app, is still on that first part of the journey. Nevertheless, he's found a way to live in one of the world's most expensive cities - but it's not easy.

While his team is based in Bangkok, the American expatriate moved to Hong Kong in an effort to meet new investors.

"I have a lot of friends and meet a lot of people who say, 'Wow that's so cool what you're doing,'" he said referring to his life as an entrepreneur.

But looks can be deceiving, he admits.

"I can't even go out to see a friend, because I'm afraid that splitting dinner with them is too much money for me," he said.

His start-up is young and the little income it generates is put back into the business, meaning his personal income is minimal.

Schwartz recently shared 7 tips for surviving cash-strapped:

#1 Negotiate prices

Schwartz said if you're willing to stay longer-term, you can often get a better discount. "I went on Airbnb and tried to negotiate a lower price since I was staying long-term," he said.

#2 Be flexible

But sometimes long term doesn't work out. Within one month, Schwartz said he's lived in four different housing arrangements since arriving to Hong Kong. "I'm basically living out of a suitcase," he admitted.

If he finds a better deal, he picks up and moves. For the hostel he was staying at when talking to CNBC - which resembled a laundromat - he was paying between $20 to $30 per night, he said.

#3 Find a side hustle

Schwartz has booked himself for several modeling gigs that gets him paid. "It provides great flexibility for me and it doesn't require much time," he said. "I'm able to get cash-flow in here, and there."

#4 Embrace local, cheap food

Burgers might not sound like a luxury for most, but for Schwartz, it's currently, "out of the question."

He said embracing local cuisine has helped him survive in Hong Kong.

"Even if you can't read the menu - and I have trouble reading the menu with my limited Chinese - I just point and say, 'hey I want that noodle dish', and be happy with what I get."

#5 Forget about a co-working space

Schwartz said he's been kicked out of cafes after staying too many hours. Now, he uses public libraries which offer a high-speed internet connection.

Co-working spaces are "out of the question" as they are too costly, he said.

#6 Ditch the gym membership

"I'm not going to pay $200 for a gym membership," he said. Instead, he uses his own body weight and finds local parks and even public gyms with free classes.

#7 Avoid unnecessary costs

Buying bottled water from time to time may seem like an innocent expense, but Schwartz warned against that. "To save on those costs, I bought a water filter so I could just use the tap," he said.

This article was first published on CNBC.

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