London – how to afford it?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 complimentary Sweaty Betty in-store classes. So no, you don’t have to be rich to exercise in London!
  5. 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!

7 comments for “London – how to afford it?

  1. vijay k vijayaratnam says:

    What do you mean by mathematics of planet earth is it mathematics of geography or geology or oceanography or what else,looks like a broad theme

    1. You’re right, it’s a very broad topic. Students of our program deal with all aspects of our planet, mostly climate, weather and oceans. Take a look at my other post that explains what Mathematics of Planet Earth is: https://wwwf.imperial.ac.uk/blog/student-blogs/2017/02/07/what-on-earth-is-mathematics-of-planet-earth/.

  2. Good advice to all who are starting university.
    Manage your finances.

  3. Edwin says:

    Hi Paula
    Thank you for sharing such a good tips. I was thinking in, what is the money range for a comfortable and affordable accommodation? I will move out there in July
    Thank you

    1. Hi Edwin! It’s hard to say, it depends what you find comfortable, with how many people you’re ready to share and what distance from the campus you can accept. I’d say that something between 800-1000 GBP per month should give you a reasonable accommodation not too far from the campus. Good luck!

      1. Edwin says:

        Hey Paula, thank you for your reply. I meant by comfortable not living stressful. I’ve checked out your previous posts, so let me know if you know someone who would like to share a flat around South Kensington campus, I’d appreciate it

  4. Excellent advice on here, particularly cooking and exercising, and the false economy of renting cheaply. It’s tiring and often miserable traipsing into London on public transport, so well worth spending an extra 300 or 400 pounds to live closer to your base. A good way to earn income is freelance blogging or article writing about your subject of expertise, (whatever you are studying), which you can do on your phone these days, hard to get the gigs, but once you break into a job or two, it gets easier.
    Of course, being resourceful and working out how to survive on a budget is great exercise for the brain too! Keeps you sharp for your studies!

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