Money saving tips for expats in London
Expatistan recently compiled their index of the world’s most expensive cities and maybe unsurprisingly, especially for those already inhabiting the British capital, London came in first place. It is notoriously expensive for tourists and Londoners alike. However, with a little forward thinking your move to London doesn’t have to leave you feeling squeezed.
Location, location, location
A high proportion of what you earn in London will be expended on accommodation, but there are ways to make it a little less painful each month. Whether renting or buying, where you choose to live is crucial in order to get the most for your money.
There are still excellent areas of London that won’t eat up all of your income, yet still offer everything you could possibly want and need, and with the city’s public transport system most places are well connected. Areas outside of the very centre will be your best bet: Acton, Brixton, Camberwell and Peckham are areas on the rise, with comparatively ‘affordable’ housing and plenty of selling points.
Getting from A to B
When deciding where to live, you should also take into consideration your commute to work. Living as close as you can will reduce the amount of money that you are forced to spend on travel; which in London can at times seem a little ridiculous. London can be a walkable city and this would also be an excellent way to get to know your new home, while looking after the pennies.
The ubiquitous Oyster card is an integral part of any London dwellers kit, as it can be used across the public transport network, including trams and riverboats. Individual ticket fares soon add up but an Oyster card will help you keep track of how much you are spending and gives discounted fares.
Although the tube is the fastest way to get around the city (when there are no line disruptions, that is), it is also the most expensive. If you can, consider taking the bus which is much cheaper and also offers a great way to see where you actually are.
Things to do for free
It can be possible to make the most of living in one of the most exciting cities in the world without it costing you the earth. On arrival into London, you will inevitably be eager to explore everything your new home has to offer so it’s fortunate that many of the city’s museums are free. This includes big-hitters like the National Gallery and the Natural History Museum; a great way to spend a rainy day and it won’t cost you a penny.
Native Londoners don’t get ripped off, it’s visitors to the city that fall victim to the exorbitant everyday costs. So don’t let yourself be taken for a fool, even when you are still finding your feet. The free daily newspapers often have offers for West-end shows and discounts for other attractions, you just need to know where to look.
Going out doesn’t have to leave you in the red either. Many of the capital’s nightclubs have nights that you don’t have to pay entry, or that entry is free before a certain time.
Although your new life in London may be a little hectic, taking the time to eat in or make food to take out with you, means you won’t get bitten by high restaurant prices and outlandish takeaway rates; especially in the tourist-targeting centre. Although food costs in London are higher than in many other cities, you can endeavour to find deals at larger supermarkets rather than relying solely on the convenience of their local express stores.
If you can’t resist going out for a bite or a coffee, avoid the high street chains, they are prohibitively expensive. Try a smaller, independent cafe, it will be an excellent way to meet real people and support your local businesses.
Above all, budgeting is the key to living in London, or any other of the world’s major cities for that matter! London is full of temptations to spend your hard earned cash, but resist. Of course, enjoy the opportunities that London has to offer but be selective about what deserves your money. With a little bit of extra planning, living in London really doesn’t have to break the bank.
Do you live in London? Share your money saving tips in the comment section below!