One of the most daunting things about studying abroad for me was hearing about the huge financial burden I was inevitably going to incur. When I would tell my friends and family that I was studying abroad in London, one of the first things they would say is, “How are you going to afford that?” However, I’ve managed my spending while still having fun exploring the city. Here are some of my best finance tips:
If you’re anything like me, you can never have enough clothes. After my first trip to Oxford Street, I realized that shopping at department stores in London is very expensive and not sustainable long term. If you’re looking for more affordable options, I highly recommend thrifting. London has amazing thrift stores and charity shops all around the city, with some of my favorite curated spots in Brick Lane and Covent Garden.
In general, don’t forget to bring a tote or bag when shopping in London. Most places will charge you to buy a bag, so an easy way to save a bit of cash is to remember to carry around an extra bag.
I’m from the suburbs of Illinois, where public transportation is basically nonexistent. You can imagine my shock when I was suddenly surrounded by underground Tube stations and a seemingly endless amount of double decker buses. Overall, I have found commuting in London to be safe, clean, and easy to navigate. The only downside of London’s public transportation is its price. I quickly realized I was spending 5-10 pounds a day just to commute to school and back home via the Tube! Although the bus is slightly cheaper, I needed to find a better long-term solution for getting around the city.
To save some money, I applied for Transport for London’s Student Oyster Card. Since I’m studying at a London university, I was able to save 30% on a monthly travelcard, which gives me unlimited bus and Tube rides.
Prior to coming to London, I had never budgeted. I mentally kept track of my spending habits. However, I realized that if I didn’t start recording my spending in London, I would be in a lot of trouble down the road. Giving myself a weekly allowance for things like food, transportation, and activities made me more money conscious and helped me cut down on frivolous spending. I no longer had to feel guilty for spending money on a night out because it fit within my budget.
If you make a clear and easy-to-follow budget, you should be able to live in London without overspending. Good luck exploring the city, and I hope you found some of these tips useful!