There’s a lot of life in London, but it’s notoriously expensive to live in the British capital city. If you’re considering moving to London and you’re looking for budgeting tips, or you already live there and are trying to find ways to manage your cash better, then it is possible to reduce your spending. From housing to entertainment, you do have options. From the biggest costs to the smallest, here’s how you can save money even when you’re living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Get your budgeting right, and you might even be able to put some money aside every month!
By far the biggest expense when living in London is where you live. Rental prices are extortionate, and there are regular horror stories about expensive bedsits for rent that are smaller than a cupboard under the stairs. If you’re not earning a CEO’s salary, then you’re going to need to know how to get the cheapest places to live. This can change depending on area trends, but you’re best off sticking to the outer boroughs. Avoid the more affluent spots like Muswell Hill or Crystal Palace, as these are famously more expensive than even more central spots. Look for ‘up and coming’ boroughs, and do regular checks on the cheapest places to live in London. Some tips:
- Don’t rent near tube stations, as these are going to be the most expensive accommodation options in every borough.
- Negotiate with your potential landlord.
- Avoid estate agents wherever possible.
- If you can cope with sharing, look for a room rather than your own flat. This can cut your rent by hundreds of pounds a month, but you will have to get used to sharing a kitchen and bathroom.
- If you’re willing to do the groundwork, you might even find free accommodation in London!
- Have your rent deposit ready. If you need to get a loan to cover a large deposit, make sure that you are approved before signing any rental agreements. If you think that you might not get approved for a deposit loan, head online for some guidance. If you are struggling with debt, you can read this debt consolidation guide to see how you can save money.
Thankfully, if you stick to supermarkets and do not eat out, then your weekly food shop isn’t going to cost you more than it does anywhere else in the country. As supermarkets fight to stay competitive, you can always reduce your food bill by taking in some shopping tips. It’s worth downloading a couple of apps too, especially the ones that will give you an alert when a restaurant needs to get rid of food at the end of a shift. These food waste apps could be a great way to enjoy some restaurant food without the cost.
3. Going Out
Of course, if you’re living in London, you’re going to want to get out and explore the shops and nightlife. Obviously, you’re going to need to be smart about this, as the price of beer alone is enough to make a northerner have a heart attack. Luckily, there are plenty of activities that you can do in London that won’t cost a penny, and from open-air shows to casual strolls around the Natural History Museum, it is possible to enjoy more of what London has to offer without breaking the bank.
It’s always worth remembering that if you go to a restaurant then water is always free, and some restaurants in the capital have a Bring Your Own Bottle policy, so you can get yourself a cheap bottle of wine from the supermarket and not have to miss out.
Some more going out tips:
- There are some truly beautiful parks in London, and these are a great place to take a casual stroll or relax on those rare, sunny days.
- Walking tours are usually free, and all you have to do is be at the right place at the starting time. This is a great way to explore the more unusual side of the city’s history, and you get a good walk too.
- For cinema lovers, it’s clever to invest in a membership card for your favourite picture house. It’s also worth signing up for Showfilmfirst, which will send you alerts when there are free cinema screenings close to you.
Even for the most low-cost activities, you’re still going to have to travel. This is often an expense that takes newcomers to London by surprise, and it’s easy to watch the cost slowly rise if you are buying bus or tube tickets every day.
It’s definitely not a smart move to have a car in London, as it’s been shown that it’s one of the most expensive places in the world to keep one parked and running.
Make sure that you get an Oyster Card if you plan on travelling or commuting more than three times a week. If you’re travelling much more than that, then a Travel Card is a much better option, and by getting one that covers a week, month, or even a full annual card, you could be saving a lot more than you expect.
Top Travel Tip: Get a Bike – Cycling is hugely popular in London, and a second-hand bike is going to be much cheaper than any other form of travel. You don’t even have to buy your own bike, as there are plenty of Santander Bicycles available to rent for the day. Make sure that if you do rent a ‘Boris Bike’ that you only use them for thirty minutes at a time. This could keep your travel costs down to just £2 a day.
Yes, it may be more expensive living in London than anywhere else in the country. However, with some forward planning and a commitment to being a little more frugal, you can still get to enjoy the hustle and bustle of one of the most spectacular cities on earth, and your savings don’t have to suffer either.