Let’s face it: living in London is expensive. It might sound scary, especially that for some of you the first year of the university will be also the first year when you have to be fully responsible for your finances. Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Here are my survival tips.
- Find a good accommodation. This is the key, since paying rent will be your biggest expense. Remember that you’ll also need to cover bills – and you might underestimate how high they’ll probably be. Having said that, I must stress: don’t go for the cheapest option. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. And cheap rent usually means a big distance from Imperial, which leads me to my second point.
- Consider transportation costs. Sometimes it’s better to pay more for a room closer to Imperial, because commute expenses can easily add up. Make sure you get a 16-25 Railcard and link it to your Oyster card, which might reduce the cost of rail and tube journeys even by one third. And seriously consider cycling – it’ll save you A LOT of money.
- Start cooking. If you eat out every day, soon you’ll call your parents begging for extra money. If you’ve never cooked before, fear not, it isn’t as hard as it seems. When I first moved out, I couldn’t even cook pasta. I’m still not an excellent chef, but I’m getting better with each meal. My tip: on Sunday night prepare food for the whole week. Cook a lot of pasta/rice, add some veggies, pulses, sauce (even store-bought), sprinkle some nuts and herbs – and you have a few meals ready in 15 minutes. If you have a freezer, you can even freeze a few portions, so that when you come home tired, instead of ordering pizza you’ll just defrost one of your meals. Cheaper and healthier.
- Use Imperial’s sport facilities. Did you know that you can use the gym for free (excluding £40 induction fee)? If you prefer fitness classes, it’s £14.50 a month for unlimited access – way cheaper than anywhere in London. You can also go running or cycling completely for free. Or attend one of the complementary Sweaty Betty in-store classes. So no, you don’t have to be rich to exercise in London!
- Drink less alcohol. A pint will cost you more than a burger with fries – choice is yours.
Of course whatever you do, London won’t get cheap. However, I believe that studying at Imperial College and living in the centre of Europe is worth it!