Read practical and easy-to-apply tips to help you thrive in London when the cost of living has a big impact on your finances and budget.
London is the beating heart of England, and it never fails to draw people to it with its exceptional culture, fantastic career opportunities, arts and vibrant energy. However, it is also an incredibly expensive city to live in, especially as the cost of living keeps soaring.
Even before the financial crisis started, London was costly. It sits at around £700 a month for a room rental in central London, and around £850 a week to rent a full house. Expensive food, cost of eating out, transport – it was always expensive.
Now, prices have soared more. Some household products are over 100% more expensive than they were a year ago, and utility bills are becoming almost unmanageable, even for those in high paying jobs.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. There are some easy hacks to help you make the most of your life in London, even with all the financial hurdles.
From finding accommodation that is more affordable, to exploring the treasures of the city for free, we have you covered. Let’s take a closer look at all the ways you can live in London for less:
Living in London often means facing the daunting challenge of navigating the city’s housing market. The rent and property prices make anybody’s eyes water, but there are some ways to make it work financially.
One way is to simply accept you will need to live in a smaller space. A cosy sanctuary in the city can be comfortable and practical.
It’s more able to work if you utilise facilities like local self storage. Self storage in London is readily available and is incredibly affordable. By using it for your seasonal items and larger items, you can be more comfortable in a compact space, and save money as a result.
It is also worth considering flat shares and house shares too, as they can give you the ability to live in a really good location at an affordable price, as well as offering a ready-made friendship group.
Lastly, consider areas that have cheaper rent prices. Croydon, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, Barking, Dagenham and Havering, Bexley and Greenwich and Harrow and Hillingdon all have the lowest average rent in London.
Using London transport can be really expensive, but there are ways to save. One way is to get an Oyster card, which can save you money if you use The Tube and buses every day.
It could also be a great idea to cycle, but be aware that it can be hairy cycling in the city, so you need to be well aware of how to cycle on roads well, and how to navigate busy traffic as you cycle. What some people do is cycle to a bicycle parking station and then walk to their location, cutting out the most chaotic part of the cycling where all the traffic is.
Alternatively there is also the opportunity to walk more in general, which is free, healthy and quite enjoyable too if you listen to a podcast or take more scenic routes to your location.
Apps like OLIO and Too Good To Go are incredible ways to get free or low priced food. These apps have been designed to help combat food waste, and give you the chance to enjoy all kinds of amazing foods at a really low cost.
You can also check out restaurant dining offers and promotions which could be; 2-4-1 deals, discount nights and meal deal options.
Lastly, get better at cooking at home. Many people struggle to afford to eat out at the moment, and cooking at home is essential for many to eat well without it costing lots of money. Learning to cook means you can enjoy better food at home.
Even better, consider splitting bulk food costs with flat mates and having a cooking rota. This way you get to try lots of different types of foods, get fed without having to cook every night, and you can save money.
London has so many amazing free places to visit, which is great news for your purse. Highlights include the Natural History Museum, the Saatchi Gallery and The British Museum. Green spaces like Regents Park are also wonderful to spend time in.
If you have free time, it is also good to wander around without a plan, so you can discover new, amazing places that aren’t as well known. Wandering around Brick Lane is particularly fun because of all the regularly changing street art.
You can expand your horizons by enjoying a day trip outside of London for the cost of train tickets, or petrol. The New Forest is only 30 minutes on the train from Waterloo and about two hours by car. There are lots of grazing animals, amazing flora and fauna and wonderful walks to enjoy.
Dungeness is another great day out, just 90 minutes from St Pancras (train and bus combined) or two hours by car and you can enjoy a beautiful beach, nature reserve trails and pubs for lunch if you do have a bit of cash for a nibble.
You can feel a little bit out of place in London without the same fashion budget as other people. The good news is that you can wear any style in London and look cool, because there is such fashion diversity in the city. This includes wearing second hand threads you might have found in charity shops, at car boot sales and even on Vinted. You can look amazing on a budget, you just have to spend a bit of time seeking out those bargains.
Living in London without lots of money is possible. Does it take more time and energy to thrive living in London on the cheap? Absolutely. But the result of your efforts mean you get to enjoy this vast, vibrant, bustling capital without having to have a massive budget. Your adventure can continue as you embrace a thrifty life in London, making memories that will last a lifetime.