London is well-known for being an expensive city to live in. House prices, rent, transport and entertainment costs seem to be constantly on the rise. But don’t let this put you off – read on for our tips to live in London on a budget. Be sure to check out the rest of the series!
London Housing on a Budget
Area: Many of the popular property websites offer a list of average prices by area (for the whole country, not just London). This can be a great place to start if you’re unfamiliar with the different areas and zones. Even the complete London newbie has probably heard of Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster – ‘exclusive’ areas not ideal for bargain-hunting! In general, it tends to be cheaper the further out you go from Zone 1 to Zone 6 (there are zones 7-9 as well, but transport gets a little trickier here). But it’s more of a guideline than a rule, as it’s certainly possible to find cheaper accommodation in Zone 1 and expensive areas in Zone 4!
Who you live with: Your flatmates (or lack of!) can have a massive impact on your rental costs. Generally living in larger shared flats or houses is cheaper than with just one or two flatmates, and you also tend to get a larger living area, kitchen and outdoor space if you’re lucky (although beware of the wily landlords who turn the living room into an extra bedroom!). If you’re a couple moving to London, consider if you want a flat to yourselves or are willing to share with flatmates.
What you need: You might start off house-hunting with a long list of requirements, but be sure to consider what you really ‘need’ and what would be a lovely extra. Do you mind not having outdoor space? A double bed? A living room? Think about what’s important to you and what you’re willing to stretch your budget for.
How I did it: I lived in shared flats for the first two years in (outer) zone 2 – North/North-West London. One was a big (but low) block of flats with a quite dated interior (but it had a balcony!). Not exactly luxurious but plenty of space. The next I shared with strangers (who luckily turned out to be lovely) and didn’t have a living room, but did have a decent kitchen. Compromises! I now live with my partner in a lovely but little flat; we visited quite a few and this was the cheapest, but we really didn’t need the extra space and love the location of this one. We saved a lot on going for something in a small block instead of a house, and not having outdoor space (but being close to a park).