Riding the Montague Crosstown folding bike in Boston.

I heard something interesting on the radio this morning – Boston is now the 5th most expensive city in the U.S. to rent an apartment. Average rent for a 1-bedroom is now $1620. This is due in part to the mess the housing market is in right now, and more people are choosing to rent, rather than buy. This means that vacancy levels are at an all time low, and the scarcity of the product (rentable apartments) drives up the price…thank you laws of supply and demand.

So what can you do if you live in a city like Boston, where rents are ever-rising and you find yourself squeezed a little more each month to try and cover your living costs? Since there’s not a lot you can do about the rent in your apartment, unless you’re willing to pick up and move, you need to start looking for ways to save money in other areas. For anyone who lives in a city, cutting out or reducing vehicle usage is a good place to start.

The Montague Fit leaves the building for the morning commute.

Urban centers, where rents tend to be highest, are also great for cycling because everything is usually pretty close together. Commutes are in the area of 5 miles, not 40 miles, and other things being equal, it’s faster to hop on a bike and ride to work than to battle rush hour traffic in the car or wait for public transportation. And cycling is also substantially cheaper than owning a car.

If you’re interested in learning more about what owning a car actually costs you, you should take a look at this website, The True Cost of Driving. It lays out not just direct cots to the driver (gas/insurance/parking/etc.) but also indirect costs that we pay for with tax dollars. While we can’t all just abandon our cars overnight, we can reduce the amount we use them by riding our bikes more. And for city-dwellers, folding bikes are a great option – they can be stored inside (making them safe from passing bike thieves) and since they fold, they can fit just about anywhere, which means you’re not giving up valuable indoor apartment space to store your bicycle.

It’s sad but true that a folding bicycle won’t actually reduce your monthly rent, but you can definitely make rising costs of living more manageable by taking a second look at your budget and your lifestyle and deciding where to make changes. If you don’t need to drive everyday, or can drive less by keeping a folding bike in your trunk, that might be a good place to start.

Has the economy affected your transportation choices? Do you ride more now that other costs (e.g. rent and fuel) are on the rise? Do you notice that cycling saves you money each month? Tell us how it is for you!