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Surviving in the city without a permanent job.

Living in the city is, obviously, very expensive and requires one to have a steady source of income. But, is everyone living in the city employed? I bet not because I quit my job a few months ago and I’m still living in the city freelancing. But how do I pull it off? How is surviving in the city without a permanent job even possible? And if it is, can you live a high-quality life and even manage to save a few coins at the end of the day?

It is possible and I will be sharing with you a few routines you need to follow. A good friend and colleague shared an article on the need for routine and you should read it to get more insight on what I’m about to share.

More than a year ago, I moved to the city after finishing my fourth-year exams. I would be working in a company based in one of the suburbs in Nairobi. This was a great opportunity to grow careerwise and I didn’t need to think twice about it, despite having established my brand online as a fulltime freelancer at the time. I wasn’t sure whether I was making the right decision because I had dreaded living in the city all my life. But because my colleagues were also moving out and we would be working together in the startup company, I made the gamble. I wasn’t sure of surviving in the city but I would soon find out. Starting from scratch and work my way to the top like most youths my age.

A few weeks in my new job and new environment, I settled in my residential apartment at the expense of all my savings. Yes, my savings account was empty and my account had an overdraft. Before moving to the city I had secured two projects from my freelancing clients which would last me two months. I wasn’t able to complete these projects which meant I did not get paid. Things weren’t moving in the right direction and I knew it. I literary lived from hand to mouth and this would continue for the next eight months. Life in the city was not very lenient on me and I never gave in either. I maintained the struggle and promised myself that I was going to hold on until I made it.

Then came the global pandemic that made it even worse. By then, I was on paternal leave so I didn’t quite feel the intensity it had on the company I worked in. Most companies in the region laid off a large percentage of their employees. The remaining received a pay cut of up to 50%. The global economy was collapsing the ripple effect on companies especially startups such as ours was adverse. A few people lost their jobs but my spot was waiting for me to report after my leave. However, my paycheck took a hit and reduced by 20% which was fair, or was it? Things got worse because we had to work from home after my paternal leave was over. The economy was falling and life was becoming unbearable.

The prices of most basic accessories shot up unprecedentedly. With a decrease in pay and an increase in prices, life wasn’t easy for typical citizens like me. I had to act fast and hard. I traced my steps back to my freelancing network. The prodigal son was back and this time I was resilient than ever. Working up to twenty hours a day, nothing was going to stop me. After a few weeks of sleepless nights and working unbelievably long hours, the financial status of my young family was afloat.

It was tough, I won’t lie, but eventually, I had a few essential bills under control. Work at my place of employment continued to be frustrating because clients continued to close their businesses. One thing led to another and I had to send my resignation letter to my boss. It was not an easy decision because the notion of surviving in the city without a permanent job freaked me out. But I had to do what I thought was right for me and for my young family. So, now I had no permanent employer yet I had recurrent and exaggerated bills to pay. One day after the other, one foot ahead of the other, I kept working hard and soon managed to turn things around.

The secrets?

Hard work and resilience. I had to work extremely hard to elevate myself from my then position. There was no shortcut. I couldn’t ask for help from anyone, or probably I did and it didn’t work out. But by understanding the gravity of my status, I knew that I needed to man up and get my life together. I took all kinds of jobs online whether they were worth the pay or not. Slowly, I accumulated one dollar after the other, and even when it was enough for one bill, I settled it and kept working because I knew that I was surfing through troubled times.

There are no shortcuts to these sorts of things. You have to understand your situation and do something about it. One thing I respect about the city and something that prevented me from giving up and going back to the village is the diversity of opportunities. I know my way around the internet and the prices are cheaper here compared to the village. The Internet is also reliable. I knew that this would save me from my current predicament. I used that and learned to use available resources and opportunities around me to my advantage. It is not as easy as it sounds and but if you don’t give up you will catch your break eventually.

The freelancing world is very unpredictable. One month you make a fortune and the next ‘rivers are dry’. 😁 Discipline determines how you survive. The quality of your life depends on your ability to earn and save for a rainy day. I had to learn how to spend as little as possible and save as much as possible. It was during this time I began thinking about health insurance among other types of insurance that would help me save on recurrent and critical bills for my family. I was learning new life skills and I credit this to hardships in the city. Surviving in the city is tough, but it toughens you to become a more skilled individual.

I might have mentioned it very briefly above but it all comes down to saving. Saving will allow you to live anywhere and make major moves in your life. It does not matter how much you save, eventually the little will accumulate and surprise you. There are a lot of opportunities and challenges equally.

Surviving in the city without a permanent job is possible. I have been at it for a few months now and I can confidently say that you can too. Life is expensive around here but jobs pay better equally. Minimize your spending, save the little you manage and eventually you catch your break. But it also depends on you, and your beliefs. If you believe you can pull it off then you can. Till next time, Adios.

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