London is an expensive city. There’s no getting away from it. But many people are born and raised there, and more decide to move there for their career. It’s the hub for many things, from creative arts to banking. If you want to make something of yourself, London is often the place to go. But you can spend a long time struggling to make enough money to feel comfortable. Wages can sometimes be higher, but it’s often still not enough to match the cost of living. If you need ways to save elsewhere in the country, you definitely need a few methods to cut costs when you live in London.
Save on Transport
When you live in London, you’re likely to be moving around a lot. A lot of people can’t afford to live close to where they work, which means commuting every day. Fortunately, London is a big city with a huge public transport network, so you don’t need to own a car. You also don’t need to use cars – so avoid taxis if you can. It’s always best to use buses, trains, and the tube, unless you don’t have any choice. Get Oyster card as soon as you can because it will save you money on your journeys and make travel easier. You might also want to consider cycling. Remember too that sometimes walking between two tube stops is quicker than actually taking the tube.
Find the Right Place to Share
Finding somewhere to live in London can be a nightmare. You’ve likely seen the horror stories of people advertising tiny rooms, beds shoved next to washing machines, and even sheds in people’s living rooms. It’s difficult to find somewhere affordable, even if you do the obvious and avoid living too close to the centre. The best place to search for rooms to rent is almost always online. There are various websites where you can look for rooms, or for people to team up with to look for a property together. Sometimes there are unusual ways to save too, such as living somewhere where the property owner might need some support or child care in return. Be careful when you’re looking, though. You don’t want anyone to take advantage of you or to end up in a sticky situation.
Turn to Free Events for Fun
It can be really tough to have any kind of social life when you’re strapped for cash. You can feel like you’re barely scraping by when you live in London, so going out can be off the table. But if you find yourself getting bored at home, you can often find free events you can attend. It might mean paying for transport, but you can still save on whatever you choose to do. If you want to find a fun event or activity, just search for free events in London online. If there’s nothing else you feel like doing, there are always the several museums that have free entry. You can also find fun schemes like ShowFilmFirst, where you can get free cinema tickets for movie previews.
Buy Early When You Pay for Activities
When you do decide you’re willing to pay for something to do, you can avoid paying more than you need to. The first thing you should do is buy early enough that you get “early bird” prices. These are often offered for concerts and other events at least a few months in advance. You have to be quick to get the lower price, as there might be a date limit or a limited number of tickets at that price. Of course, buying early means that you don’t miss out on tickets too. And if you don’t quite manage to get there on time, don’t waste your money buying from ticket touts or reselling sites. Go straight to the venue or ticket seller and ask to be put on their returns list. They’ll let you know if someone returns their tickets and you’re next in the queue.
Switch Your Energy Provider
When you move into a new home, you often just stick to the energy provider currently connected to the property. Many people assume they’re not allowed to change it if they’re renting. However, this is only true if your landlord pays the bill. If you and your other tenants are responsible for the bill, you can change the provider if you want. Check your contract to see if your landlord has a “preferred provider”. If they do, you can still change it, but you should let your landlord or letting agent know first. Even if your landlord does pay the bill, a gentle suggestion of a cheaper provider might not hurt.
Look for Ways to Eat and Drink for Less
Saving money on eating and drinking in London should be divided into two parts: at home and out and about. Generally, eating out will cost you more than making food at home. The same goes for going to a pub or bar versus buying some drinks to enjoy at home instead. But even if you avoid going out, you can still find that you’re spending too much. If you want to save, make sure none of your food is going to waste. One way to do this is not to vary your menu too much. Stick to some core ingredients you can keep using, so you don’t end up with a couple of Jerusalem artichokes or some reblochon cheese you need to use up. Pasta and rice are always useful.
If you do want to go out occasionally, you don’t have to spend stupid amounts of money. There are cheaper places to eat and drink, and there are ways to secure discounts too. One thing that’s easy to do is to check deal sites online, which often have some great discounts you can take advantage of. Try things like Groupon, OpenTable and others that you can download onto your phone.
London’s not likely to get any cheaper, so you need to know how to save. Knowing how to budget is essential if you want to avoid spending too much.