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John

March 21st, 2024

Managing life on a student budget in London

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

John

March 21st, 2024

Managing life on a student budget in London

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

When I first moved to London, I was shocked at how expensive things were. Compared to where I’d been living previously, it felt like I couldn’t step outside of my flat without losing money! It took me a few weeks to adjust, but I’ve found that by making conscious consumer choices and taking advantage of being a student, costs are definitely manageable. For me, living in London on a student budget comes down to four key factors, which I’m happy to share:

1. Socialising on a budget

If you want to save money, it’s important to be smart with how you socialise in London. Going out with friends to restaurants and bars on a regular basis can be pricey — especially in the city centre. I’ve found that cooking together at home is often the most affordable option whilst still being very fun. Sometimes pop-ups or street food options can also be the less expensive way to enjoy London’s culinary scene if you do some research on what’s available.

Also, it’s possible to spend time with friends without spending any money on food and drinks. Most of London’s world-famous museums offer free entry, like the British Museum, The National Gallery, or one of my favourites, the Imperial War Museum. Furthermore, there are beautiful public parks and gardens. I enjoy walking by the London Zoo’s monkey enclosure, which can be seen from the Regent’s Park paths. My friends and I also enjoy some of London’s lesser-known public spaces, like the British Film Institute (BFI) in Southbank. These all can be great places for sitting and catching up or possibly finding unexpected excitement.

2. Saving on transportation

London has wonderful public transportation. The London Underground is quick and easy to navigate, making it a convenient way to explore the city. I love the bus, which also provides a wonderful view of London’s streets and skyline. Uber Boat allows you to travel quite quickly through River Thames, which can be great if you’re trying to get somewhere like Canary Wharf. These options are all far less expensive than driving or taking a taxi. Of course, utilising public transportation is also smart if you’re thinking about your carbon footprint.

That said, costs add up. Taking the tube twice per day can start to hurt — especially if you’re crossing through different zones. That’s why I highly suggest walking or biking when possible. Though it’s most feasible if you live in central London, a long journey every once in a while can be a great way to discover new places, clear your head, and get some exercise in.

3. Discovering deals and discounts

Fortunately, students enjoy lots of deals and discounts in London, so make sure to keep a lookout. From two ODEON cinema tickets for £10, inexpensive 16 to 25 National Theatre tickets, free English National Opera tickets to council tax exemptions, we can take advantage of countless chances to save money.

It was embarrassing at first, but I’ve worked up the confidence to ask for student deals and discounts whenever possible. Though my efforts have been rejected more than a few times, it’s worth trying. My gym, Boots, and even H&M Home have provided discounts when I’ve asked. This is a good reason to carry your student ID card with you!

4. Finding job opportunities

For many people, part-time work can be an effective way to make London more affordable whilst boosting your skills and CV. LSE offers many job opportunities: student blogging, LSE Students’ Union positions and postgraduate teaching roles, etc. Personally, I’ve enjoyed my time as a student blogger and teaching through LSE Springboard. There are many employers outside of LSE which are happy to accommodate students, including restaurants, think tanks, or tutoring services.

Working through university isn’t possible for everyone. Your studies should always take priority, and it’s important to consider your mental and physical wellbeing before you commit to long-term employment. If you’re an international student, you must keep your visa requirements in mind.

Conclusion

Whilst these methods have worked for me, ultimately you’ll need to find what works for your own lifestyle. Keeping track of expenses, building a budget, and sticking to it is a great place to start. Student life in London can be both fun and affordable.

About the author

John

Jack is an MPhil/PhD student in the Department of International History, researching the history of diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. Outside of his studies, he's currently trying to eat food from every country in the world while staying in London.

Posted In: Money

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