Top Tips To Live The London Life On A Budget

I was born in Paris but moved to the countryside when I was seven years old. When I left home for university, I moved to fairly sized cities, which were also quite affordable. Thus, I did not get to experiment THE city… Until I moved to London! Oh, it was great… and painful! From paying €650 for a very central studio flat in Lyon or a €500 massive room in a two bedroom flat in Turin, to £780 for a room in a 5 bedroom flat in London.

And I have the feeling that my room is not that expensive compared to what many others get. But then, adds up the travel card… Just for comparison, a monthly all-zones travel pass in Paris is €76 while a monthly zone 1 – 2 travel pass in London is £131. Painful, I know.

Don’t get me wrong! I am not complaining, I love London. Which is why, despite the very high cost of living, I moved there! The thing is, moving in your dream city but not being able to enjoy it is a bit sad. You start questioning your choice. Does my salary actually allow me to live in London? Is it all worth it?! Should I reconsider? And so many other questions and after thoughts while actually…

… the only thing you need to focus on is how to defy the odds, prove all the clichés wrong and use some money saving hacks I am about to share with you! You will probably know a few of these already, but you might also learn a few more!

How To Live The Life in London On A Budget

Grocery shopping

  1. Buying in bulk online – Home delivery is the most convenient thing when it comes to groceries. You place the order online and wait for it to arrive. Sorting everything by prices on the website, you can find the cheapest items and save a lot of money. Buying in big quantities is also cheaper. Furthermore, since you don’t need to carry everything yourself, buying several kilos of pasta isn’t an issue. You always need pasta so it’s great to have some stock!
  2. Choosing generic brands – Famous brands are a safe bet, sure. You assume the products will be good. But most of the time, the only difference is the packaging. Ingredients rarely vary. When 500g of generic brand spaghetti costs £0.20 against £2 for branded ones, that choice is easy. Local stores don’t often sell generic brands while big stores and websites do.
  3. Getting loyalty cards – If a store offers a loyalty card, get it. Especially if it is part of a wider scheme. My Nectar card allows me to accumulate points when I shop online for groceries, train tickets, furniture, etc. which can be turned into vouchers. £5, £10, etc depending on how many points you get. Small savings here and there that add up turn into big savings.
  4. Visiting £1 and saver shops – Some items are expensive wherever you go. An alternative is to visit your local £1 shop or Poundland. Even the cheapest coffee will not be under £1 at your supermarket while you can find good brands in £1 shops! This specifically works for items such as washing power, cleaning liquid, toilet paper, beauty products, etc. which are always so expensive yet essential.

Rent, transport & work

  1. Choosing your flat – The issue with London is that rent is very expensive. Sad truth. Finding something affordable is possible if… you do not rush your search. Consider the size, furnishing, common rooms, conditions, location. Maybe you can move a bit further away from the city center while staying in the same travel zone. The most important is that you have a station not too far to get to the center fairly quick. Another solution is to find a flat that is for example at the beginning of zone 3 while the closest station is in zone 2. Cheaper rent, cheaper travel card. Worse case scenario, you go even a bit further away and walk a bit longer.
  2. Checking hidden costs – So you’ve found that flat located in a super cool area. The room is fairly sized, the common rooms are clean, shiny and nice. The price is good. It’s like, you’ve found the pearl! And then, they tell you that it does not include some or all bills. And you need to add a hundred pounds, maybe two hundred. Ouch. Always look out for prices that already include all bills!
  3. Getting your travel card – Pay as you go, weekly card, monthly card, you choose. If you take a monthly card but do not travel enough to break even, then it is money lost. Calculate how often you will travel for work, probably 5 returns a week. Plus the occasional going out or in town. If all that combined is still less than a travel card, just pay so you go. Money saved.
  4. Making lunch at home – Making your lunch box every evening can be tedious so the temptation to buy something at your local Tesco Express is very strong. Let’s make some calculations. A meal deal is £3, multiplied by 5 workings days, £15. 5 meals using 1kg (£0.45) of (generic brand) rice, 3 cans of ratatouille ( £0.70 x 3 = £2.10) and a bag of 6 apples (£1.50) make £4.05. A £10.95 difference, which will add up. Use the money saved for drinks, going out, shopping or traveling!

Shopping & other treats

  1. Accessorizing instead of buying – I love treating myself to new things but let’s be honest, do I need a new little black dress? Not really no. Am I bored of the one I have? Yes, for sure. Maybe I can jazz it up with different shoes, jewelry and bag for a whole new look? Or watch tutorial on how to transform basic clothing and accessories into something different?
  2. Selling unwanted items – If you want to make space or get rid off unworn items, you can sell them on second hand websites or apps. Mercari, Vinted, Depop, to cite a few. It might not sell immediately, but you can still get a few pounds back.
  3. Visiting your local library or swapping books – Any book lovers amongst you? Me too! Despite not having space nor money for new books, I keep on buying more! Next time, before placing a cheeky order on Amazon, check out our local library. They might have the book you were looking for! Otherwise, you can arrange some book swap with friends, relatives, bloggers or even strangers!
  4. Going out for less – One drink, two drinks, three, four, etc… it adds up and it is expensive. And you also have to pay entry to the club! God damn it, breaking the bank are we?! If you don’t want to pay to get in, get there a bit earlier. Some clubs do free entry until 11pm, other until midnight. Sure the atmosphere is not set yet but you did not pay and you can chill like you were at the pub until the party really starts! Or you find a promoter that will have you go in for free or cheaper and drink for free!

BUT most important of all

  1. Knowing your spending capabilities – Before deciding to spend your money or do anything, make sure you actually know what you can spend. No one forces you to save money and you can spend it all on booze, parties and clothes. Your choice. But just so you know, if something happens and you don’t have anything in the bank to soften the hit, then you are in big troubles. You don’t need to save a lot each month. Just a bit. Calculate all your necessary expenses against your monthly salary, assess what you’ve got left, what you can use for fun, to treat yourself and what you can save.
  2. Learning to say ‘no’ – There is nothing shameful about being broke. If you don’t have money, don’t be ashamed. Not being able to afford something is a pretty good reason to say ‘no’. Because if you say yes, you’ll spend money you don’t have and will be in big trouble. Sometimes, being pragmatic is just as good as enjoying yourself… but it can actually save your ass. Truth be told, I know what I am talking about! Whether you don’t want or can’t, do not be afraid of saying no.

I guess you need to have some sort of discipline but you don’t have to be super strict with yourself. We’ve all have a different behavior towards money and all feel differently about how we spend it. Do what works for you, enjoy life in the big city. However, remember that even though treating yourself feels amazing, once money is gone, it is gone, there is no going back. Great fashion, amazing experiences and crazy night outs don’t pay the bills. If something happens, having a little something saved aside will save you a lot of stress!

Shop the outfit
Jacket – Primark
Dress – LOTD*
Sandals – Single Price*
Clutch – Forever 21
Earrings – Happiness Boutique*
Sunglasses – Boohoo
Watch – ADEXE Watch London*

What do you think of these? Do you already apply some of those tips? Have they been working for you? Do you have any more tips for us? How do you manage life on a budget in a big city?

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.

See you soon,
Love,
Corinne

*Some items featured in this post are gifts from brands.

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29 Comments

  1. candice
    September 20, 2018 / 7:09 am

    These are super helpful tips! thanks for sharing

    Candice | Natalya Amour

  2. September 20, 2018 / 10:58 am

    Oh, i love the pair of shoes, so cute with multi colors! What a genius way to match it with pink and blue.

  3. September 20, 2018 / 12:33 pm

    Good to know! I doubt I’ll ever live in London, but I want to visit, and I’ll keep these tips in mind. I always love to save. You look wonderful in this outfit!

  4. September 20, 2018 / 2:03 pm

    I know that London is a very expensive city to live in. That’s why I chose to live on the coast, where rent is so much cheaper and London is just a train ride away. I think England is expensive in general. I always look for offers when I do my weekly grocery shopping and sometimes buy in bulk to save money.

  5. September 20, 2018 / 3:00 pm

    I have heard that London is a rather expensive place to live, so anything to save money I assume would be great. Really, many of these tips can be useful anywhere to save money!

  6. September 20, 2018 / 4:03 pm

    These are such good tips! I always buy my food in bulk, it’s so expensive in the south, I’m just outside of London and it’s so expensive!

    Love, Amie ❤
    The Curvaceous Vegan

  7. September 20, 2018 / 4:39 pm

    These tips are so helpful as I may be moving to London soon. Your tips about accommodation and travel are definitely going to help! I also think it’s a good idea to treat yourself every so often so If you can do that for a good price it’s even better!

    Eve | http://www.evemorganinteriors.com

  8. Joy abou zeid
    September 20, 2018 / 5:00 pm

    Well i wish i read that post before i decided not to move to the uk 😛 very nice post, useful!!

  9. September 20, 2018 / 6:09 pm

    These are great tips Corinne, I definitely agree that generic brands are just as good and can save you so much money. £1 shops normally have fab bargains too. Great post and you always find the cutest outfits! I love your shoes too, so fun & colourful <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  10. September 20, 2018 / 6:23 pm

    Making lunch at home is always a good idea. Not only does it save money but it is healthier.

  11. September 20, 2018 / 6:46 pm

    These are some great sounding ideas, I can imagine it is hard sometimes to live in London and be on a budget as it is such an expensive area.

  12. September 20, 2018 / 7:19 pm

    Some of my friends who are born and brought up in London UK say the same thing like you. It is a really helpful post for those who want to shift there.

  13. September 20, 2018 / 7:23 pm

    I’ve been thinking of visiting London and of staying there for a while and living on the budget would be something just for me. Can’t wait to check out your tips to make my stay more affordable and pleasant! 🙂

  14. September 20, 2018 / 7:53 pm

    These tips are amazing! Especially the ones about house hunting. Finding places including bills is an absolute must, and what you said about zone 2/3 for tube stops is such a great tip x

    Sophie
    http://www.glowsteady.co.uk

  15. September 21, 2018 / 12:19 am

    I never associate budget with London, but I guess it can be done. I love Lyon– would love to live there one day.

  16. September 21, 2018 / 12:19 pm

    Oh you say! These are great tips and I’ll second you about knowing your spending budget. Even before one starts shopping, it’s important to access available resources. As well learning to say no can be so important !

  17. Jessica Taylor
    September 21, 2018 / 1:48 pm

    Thanks for these tips! I’ve always wanted to travel to London but I was afraid I’d never be able to afford it!

  18. September 21, 2018 / 2:29 pm

    Love these tips. I actually grew up as a child in Londons so it brings back some wonderful and fun memories.

  19. September 21, 2018 / 8:26 pm

    Great advice. I never realised the London Underground cost so much monthly. Buying food online is a great option, it really saves.

  20. September 21, 2018 / 9:05 pm

    This is perfect timing as I will be in London this coming week! I cannot wait – thanks for all the tips.

  21. September 22, 2018 / 6:18 am

    Wow, this is such an interesting read with so many helpful tips. I visited London last year and yeah that city ain’t cheap! Love the idea of choosing your flat wisely and never forget to check hidden cost that could burn your wallet. Thank you for sharing this, dear!

  22. September 22, 2018 / 8:01 am

    These are some great tips that I’m sure will help those out who are looking to move to London! Buying groceries in a bulk seems like a great idea! xx

  23. September 22, 2018 / 12:20 pm

    Great ideas! It’s always good to know our priorities so that we can allocate our budgets well and live a disciplined life. 😀 whether we live in London or elsewhere. 😀

  24. September 23, 2018 / 8:22 am

    These are great tips. Love that you said, “learning to say no”

  25. September 25, 2018 / 8:02 am

    Great Suggestion. I never realized the London cost so much monthly. Buying food/clothes online is a great option, it really saves alot.

  26. Prerna
    September 26, 2018 / 9:54 pm

    Such a relevant post as I’ve heard that London is damn expensive. And can only imagine how expensive it would be for people living there. Love your suggestions. On a sidenote, love your pompom slipons.

  27. October 1, 2018 / 11:22 am

    These are all such great tips. Making my own lunch saves me so much money every week! I’d be spending so much otherwise. The travel card is also a great shout and a rail card too! If you pair it with your oyster you can get discount on fares too. So it’s great to have. Thanks for sharing x

  28. Kiwi
    October 11, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    First I wanna say I love your pom pom colorful pumps. Great tips on how to live in London on a budget some of these can apply to the US

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