The news is in. London tube and bus fares are set for the biggest price rise in ten years. It comes at a time when university accommodation prices are also on the rise. So, how is it possible to live on a student budget in London?

Well, don’t panic, it’s not as hard as it may seem. In fact, we are going to take you through some key tips and tricks on how to not only live on a student budget in London but also how have fun doing it.

The Food Shop

cheap living london
Source: New Statesman

Living as a student means that you’ll have to do a food shop (living off pizza is neither healthy nor cost-efficient.)  As you wander down the supermarket aisles, you’ll begin to realise how pricey everything can be, which sometimes makes it harder to stick to a student budget. However, if you’re wise with your choice of shop and strict with yourself about how much you’re willing to spend, then it’s a lot easier than you think.

Firstly, you’ll want to avoid shopping at expensive stores such as Waitrose or Co-Op however tempting they might be: It’s best to wait for your parents to fork out for the luxury groceries.

Instead, Lidl and Aldi have great produce, including lots of meal preps for when you can’t be bothered to cook a full dish, multipacks and toiletries. This means that you can do an entire food shop for around £15.

It can be hard to shop for one because fresh fruit and vegetables tend to go off quicker. However, if you buy your food and cook it in bulk, you can separate it throughout the week and save even more money that way. Just pop leftovers in the freezer.  Also, it’s also worth checking out the markets that London has to offer, such as in Camden and Walthamstow, because not only is their produce really fresh and seasonal, chances are you’ll get them for a great price, also.

Takeaway

cheap living london
Source: Eat Drink Sleep

If you are trying to stick to your student budget in London, it’s best to avoid takeaways. However, if you REALLY don’t fancy cooking, you’ve got a busy night ahead of you, or you just want to treat yourself, then there are some great deals that you can get through apps such as UNiDAYS. This helps you to save some money on the biggest brands. A few of these include 33% off Papa Johns, 35% off Dominos, and up to 50% off Byron Burgers – what’s even better is that you’re having a flat night, then all of this becomes even cheaper!

What about if you feel peckish whilst you’re on the go? Well, there are also many schemes that takeaway restaurants have that allow you to get some food for free. For example: if you download the KFC app, you can get a free snack. Alternatively, sign up to LEON’s club and you get a free starter hotbox (plus 15% off further orders for students.) You can get also get a free doughnut when you download the Krispy Kreme app.

Something that is also worth checking out is Too Good To Go, an anti-food waste app. It allows stores to sell extra stock or meals that would otherwise have gone into the bin. That means that you can get restaurant meals for a fraction of the price. Just enter your location, and it can tell you what store has what to offer, some of which include: Costa, Greggs, Caffé Nero and Pret A Manger. You’ll be getting some great food for a much cheaper price whilst you’re on the go. Plus, you’re helping to reduce food waste – it’s a win-win really.

Retail Therapy

cheap living london
Source: Telegraph

You have to shop, right? While it’s easy to blow all of your student loan on new clothes for a night out, you will regret it. So, here are some ways to shop in London without spending all of your cash.

Student discount

Firstly, remember that big brands such as Urban Outfitters and Nike offer a 10% discounts for students.  All you need to do is show your UNiDAYS or StudentBeans ID to be eligible.  Perhaps you want to steer away from the high street? Well, luckily for all of us, London has some incredible vintage stores that you can check out, such as Beyond Retro, East End Thrift Store and Traid Shepherd’s Bush, and even some outlets such as London Designer Outlet and ICON Outlet at The O2, to keep all of our (essential) shopping costs to a minimum. You can check out our picks for the best thrift shops in London here.  

Alternatively, take a look at Depop to find plenty of cheap clothes for very little money. You can even sell old clothes that you don’t wear anymore- then you’ll break even.

Nightlife

cheap living london
Source: Parklane Properties

Now we all know that part of living the ‘student life’ is the nights out and uni students in London are in luck because London has more places to go out than most. Clubs such as Ministry of Sound, EGG London, Fabric, XOYO, and Bar Rumba are some fantastic clubs for students. Plus, they offer discounted entry and drinks for, you guessed it, just showing your student ID.

There are also dedicated student nights with cheap drinks deals. You’ll also want to try glow in the dark nights and paint parties- just pre-drink before a pricier club night to save money. Drinks in clubs are notoriously expensive. Check out our article on the best London student nights out for some more ideas.

Travel

cheap living london
Source: Schools Week

Travelling around London on the tube or red buses seems so exciting- before you get here. It won’t take you long to realise how hot, sweaty, and pricey the journey’s actually are. However, if you are living on a student budget then you can get around for cheaper than most.

Firstly, you should register for an Oyster card as a student. By doing this you can get 30% off overground, underground, riverboat and red bus travel- all you need to do is make sure it’s all topped up! This works out as so much cheaper than constantly using contactless payment.

Alternatively, you can hire a Santander bike for just £2, and as long as you return it to its original spot, it’s all yours for 24 hours. That way, you can get some fresh air and a much less crowded experience when travelling back and forth to university, the choice is all yours.

Sometimes, all that’s needed is some control and resilience, and you can actually stretch your student budget in London quite far. These are just some of the few things you can do to ensure that you stay out of your overdraft but amongst all the fun of the capital!

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Last Updated on September 2, 2022

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