If you’ve just arrived, you might be feeling a little daunted by the cost of living, especially if you are on a very tight budget. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to ease your transition to the big smoke and ensure you have the time of your life.
Be real when you’re looking for accommodation:
Okay, so that penthouse flat overlooking the Thames is probably not going to be an option, but there are some great ways to find affordable accommodation near the heart of the city. The most affordable way to live in London is to find shared accommodation or a room for rent. Many family homes advertise rooms for rent and this can be one of the best ways to meet an English family and immerse yourself in English culture.
Yes, you can go out and enjoy yourself
One of the best things about London is that even though it is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, it is also one of the most diverse. Whether you are looking for a cheap meal, cut price tickets to a show or a night out on a budget, you can usually find what you need easily and quickly. Almost every suburb of London is home to the good old ‘greasy spoon’ cafe for example. Here you’ll find the great full English breakfast for under a fiver including a huge mug of tea and a round of toast.
Cheap nights out in the capital can range from underground comedy clubs in the heart of East London to free street entertainment down on the South Bank. Many restaurants allow you to bring your own bottle or booze (BYOB) and offer great deals on food.
Buying household goods on a budget
More and more big brand low cost stores are opening in the capital. If you need household items such as furniture, ornaments, cleaning products and lightbulbs, shops like Wilkinsons are a haven for those looking to save money. If you need to deck out your wardrobe, Primark and H&M are the places to go. You will be amazed at how much you get for your money. With sunglasses starting at just £1.50 and a pair of shoes costing £5, you can mix with the best fashionistas in London without blowing your cover.
Reduce your travel costs
The smart people in London walk or cycle. London Transport prices are forever on the rise and being caught in a black cab during rush hour can eat up your travel budget extremely quickly. If you can walk, do it. It’s a great way to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the city and it will help you to become acquainted with your local area. In fact, in a few short weeks of walking different routes, you will probably know your way around London better than people that have lived there all their lives.
Exchange your money wisely
As a newly arrived expat, it’s likely you’ll need to make an international money transfer. When exchanging currency, look for alternatives outside the high street bank. Banks typically apply markups of up to 5% away from the real exchange rate, building in a raft of hidden fees. It pays to shop around, and you’ll end up saving with an FCA Authorised and Regulated foreign exchange specialist. Always pay attention to the exchange rate rather than any other marketing gimmick of 0% commission and compare the fees that are applicable before you agree to any exchange or transfer. Five minutes’ research could make all the difference to how far your money stretches.
Enjoy London for free
As the saying goes, the best things in life are free and London is no exception. A picnic in Hyde Park, a trip to the Science Museum or browsing at the Tate Modern will not cost you a penny, but you’ll still have a great time.
About the author: Daniel Abrahams is a keen personal finance writer, startup mentor at ABC Startups and the Co-Founder of OPP award-winning comparison website, MyTravelMoney. Recently, the company launched its innovative new international payment product live on CNBC, CurrencyTransfer.com
Image credit: Thinkstock