How to live in London on a student budget

Elena Cotton·26 February 2018·5 min read
How to live in London on a student budget

Living and studying in London can be many things- exciting, fast-paced, full of opportunities… Unfortunately ‘cheap’ is not one of those things. But is London as impossible to financially navigate as everyone says (yes Leeds/Manchester snobs, I’m talking to you)?

Whilst in general London is more expensive- especially when considering rent and travel costs- it is still doable. Our great capital was recently voted as the most cost-effective city for students, so if you know all the tricks of the trade then you should be A-okay. Check out these handy tips to save you dollar bills and ensure you have the best uni experience possible.

Accommodation

Housing is one of the key expenses for anyone living in London, and as a student this can be a tricky area to make work. On average, LSE estimates that you’ll spend about £500 per month on accommodation, although this strongly depends on whereabouts you’re looking to go. This can make second and third year slightly more difficult as you’re friendship groups will likely disperse depending on who can afford what. However, this provides a great opportunity to explore more of the city by visiting your (semi) distant pals. Also, crime rates are lower in areas that are less densely populated by students, so whilst it might be more expensive initially, at least there is less chance of having your laptop and Xbox nicked.

In London, rent for student houses is, on average, £120 per week. Having said that, London-based students do get more funding from student finance. Students based outside of London, living away from home, can be entitled to up to £11,002. Whereas students based in London, living away from home can be entitled to up to £11,354. So, when you breakdown the figures, if you’re clever with your housing choices you shouldn’t be too hard done by when looking for a roof to live under.

Travel

Yes, you will pay more on buses and the tube than the £1.50 Magic Bus you’ll find in the North. London, however, is much bigger so of course you’ll spend more travelling around. Luckily for you, there is a 30% discount available for students using the tube and bus. Also, there are cycles lanes literally everywhere so get yourself onto Gumtree and you can find a pair of wheels for around £50. Plus, it’ll keep you fit and healthy- saving money by avoiding those hefty gym memberships.

Food

Eating out is more expensive than other unis (especially those in the North). LSE also estimated that students will spend between £50-300 per month on food, almost double that of the average for Northern students. Yet, again, the beauty of studying in London is that you have options. Your weekly shop can be halved by swapping your Sainsbury’s order for Lidl. Also, bulk buying items from places like Asda mean you can split delivery charges with your housemates.

When it comes to eating out, Unidays offer some great discounts on a number of branches. This includes 20% of Pizza Hut, 20% off Byron Burgers and 25% off Chiquito.

Things to do

Ultimately, part of being a student in London is accepting that you’re going to go on less nights out than your Newcastle-Manchester counterparts. However, this in itself can have many benefits. One, you only ever go on nights out you really want to go to- you can’t afford to do otherwise. Two, you are living in one of the world’s greatest hubs of arts, music and culture. There are countless museums, galleries and performances that you can attend for free. Plus, many paid-for exhibitions offer substantial student discounts. If you fancy a bigger night on the town, lastminute.com offer tickets to critically acclaimed West End shows like Wicked for as little as £12.99. In essence, you’ve got options.

So, although studying in London can seem like an impossible financial pipe-dream, the reality is much different. There are so many options and so many ways to find cheap deals and discounts that if you really have your heart set on our bustling capital, you shouldn’t let the price tag put you off.