If you’re planning on living and studying in London this year, then it’s important to understand the cost of living. It’s an expensive city compared to many places in the world, so you need to ensure you are financially prepared for your time in London. The currency is the British pound so it’s a good idea to check the exchange rate of your own currency before you calculate your living costs.
If you’re a student you’ll have access to discounts which could lower your cost of living, but you’ll still need to manage finances carefully. Transport and accommodation are particularly expensive in The Big Smoke, but savvy shoppers can reduce the amount they need to spend on food and entertainment.
On average, let’s take a look at how much you’ll spend in London on basic living costs.
The price of accommodation in London varies hugely due to location. For example, a room in a shared house in zone 1 of central London can cost double the price of a room in zone 5 or 6. There are also a multitude of accommodation options specifically for international students including student accommodation, renting from a private landlord or living in a homestay (or “host family”). A room in a shared property with other tenants would cost you between £500 and £700 per month in the least expensive areas, while homestay accommodation starts at £135 per week.
If you are looking to rent a whole property, then the approximate cost of a 45m2 (480Sqft) furnished studio in a normal (less expensive) part of London will cost in the region of £1100 per month, excluding bills (utilities etc). The same studio in a more central or affluent location (zone 2 for example in say north or west London) might cost upwards of £1600 per month excluding bills. In either case you might want to allow around £150 per month for bills (gas, electricity, council tax, water etc).
Food and Drink
We recommend putting aside about £70 per week for your basic grocery shop including household items and toiletries. Of course, this depends on how expensive your taste is and you’ll always be able to buy cheaper options from discount supermarkets. Eating out and socialising is also pretty expensive in London – the average pint costs £4.50 and you wouldn’t get much change out of £100 when dining out as two in central London.
Once again, there are cheaper places off the beaten track but you have to make the effort to find them. A great way to save money on food is by opting for a meal plan. If you’re staying with a local, you can pay a bit more each month to include homemade meals each day – it also takes the stress out of cooking!
The transportation system in London is very well serviced but it certainly isn’t cheap. When using the bus or the underground, it’s usually better value to buy a month’s travel pass rather than buying single tickets each time you travel – but it depends how often you use public transport. Most people living in London have an oyster card, which allows you to top up and use the balance against travel journeys.
Find out more about living in London and the homestay accommodation available from HFS London.