Living in London on a Budget

This is a guest post written by Karen at Money and Marriage.

Let’s face it, living in a capital city can be expensive and London is no exception. However, just because you have a tight budget, doesn’t mean that you need to stay home every night. There are lots of wonderful ways to experience what London has to offer, and this blog will show you how you can live in London on a tight budget.

So, before we begin, let’s look at what a budget is and why (I believe!) that everyone should have one! 

Why Should You Budget?

Regardless of your income sources – creating a budget is a valuable tool for ensuring financial stability. A good budget does more than just help you save for future adventures; it helps you develop financial stability. 

If you would like to start a budget but don’t know where to start, then read this blog and learn How To Create A Budget in 6 Easy Steps.

Preventing Debt

Budgeting helps you to see where your money is going – rather than wondering where it went! By tracking your expenses, every month, you can see where you are doing well and where you have areas where you need to improve. 

For instance, I was working with a client recently, and we could clearly see that they needed to build a rainy day fund. A pot of money that could be used in an emergency.

When you have a rainy day fund, you don’t need to rely on a credit card to help you out in an emergency. Makes sense right! 

Building Credit

Maintaining a budget can lead to a better credit rating, a crucial factor when it comes to securing loans or mortgages on favourable terms.

Enhancing Financial Trustworthiness

If you’d like to buy a home in the near future, or need a loan for a significant investment, a budget demonstrates your financial responsibility. Showing that you can budget may increase your chances of approval.

Boosting Savings

The practice of budgeting compels you to prioritise your spending, leaving room for savings. Even small, consistent savings can accumulate into a substantial fund over time.

Developing a basic budget can significantly reduce your financial stress. This enables you to focus on personal and professional growth while enjoying your free time. 

Additional Reasons to Embrace Budgeting

Budgeting as Empowerment

Budgeting doesn’t mean sacrificing fun; it means being intentional with your money. By creating a budget, you dictate where your money goes, rather than wondering where it went.

Budgeting is Universal

Budgeting is a life skill that can benefit everyone. If you’d like to get a FREE Excel Spreadsheet, which is perfect for budgeting beginners, click HERE and start your budgeting journey today! 

OK, so now we have explored why we need to budget, let’s zoom in on how you can live in London on a budget. 

As I said earlier, London is an expensive city but that doesn’t mean you have to stay home every night! Here are a few tips on how you can live in London on a budget! I hope that you find them helpful! 

Learn to cook! 

You can save so much money by cooking at home! Think about your favourite meals and jump online to find the recipe. Have some fun by trying out some new dishes. You could also invite friends around and make a night of it! 

You might like: How to get a Free Green Chef Recipe Box

Managing Food Expenses

There are lots of ways to save money on your food – here are just a few frugal food tips to get you started:

  • Shop at lower-cost supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl for basic groceries.
  • Don’t shy away from pricier specialty stores for quality ingredients that inspire you to cook.
  • Plan weekly meals to reduce waste and save on food costs.
  • Keep an eye out for discounted items with yellow stickers at the end of the day in supermarkets.

You might like: Get a free Simply Cook Box

Travel Cheaply

The good news is that you don’t need a car in London and that is a major saving in itself! There are three cost-efficient ways to travel around London: by public transport, cycling, or walking.

If you’re going to use public transport (Tube and bus), I recommend that you do some research and find out if you qualify for any railcards and could these work with your Oyster card. 

London is very cycle friendly, so cycling is another great way to save money. You can invest in your own bike or choose to rent public bikes (Santander, Uber, Lime, and Freebike). 

Finally, there’s walking. Walking is a great way to get around London – and it’s great for your step count too! 

Theatrical Marvels without the High Price Tag

London boasts some of the finest theatre productions in the country, yet ticket prices can seem daunting. But do not fear, for there are clever ways to enjoy the show without breaking the bank.

One effective strategy is to visit the theatre’s ticket office on the day of the performance. Inquire about any last-minute, discounted tickets that have yet to find buyers. The anticipation of a spontaneous night at the theatre can add an element of excitement too! 

Additionally, stay on the lookout for ticket sales and promotions. Many theatres offer discounted rates during certain times or for specific performances, and you can sign up to be a seat filler to get free and cheap theatre tickets.

Planning ahead and seizing these opportunities can make even the most prestigious shows accessible to budget-conscious theatre enthusiasts.

Stroll Through London’s Parks and Waterways

London’s allure extends beyond its historic landmarks and bustling streets. The city is adorned with an abundance of lush parks and serene waterways that offer peaceful escapes from the urban hustle and bustle. Wander through Hyde Park, take in the picturesque views along the Regent’s Canal, or have a leisurely picnic in Hampstead Heath. These natural gems are freely available to all and provide a refreshing contrast to the city’s energy.

Hidden Gems and Local Markets

Exploring London’s vibrant neighbourhoods can uncover delightful hidden gems and some fantastic local markets. Take a stroll through the lively stalls of Borough Market, where you can sample some great street food and artisanal goods. 

Alternatively, visit Camden Market, renowned for its atmosphere and unique shopping opportunities. These markets are not only fascinating to explore but also offer affordable dining and shopping options.

Culinary Experiences without the Splurge

Savouring London’s diverse culinary scene need not come at a high price. Grab a group of friends and explore local eateries and hole-in-the-wall restaurants where you can relish authentic flavours without the tourist price tag. 

London’s culinary landscape is a melting pot of international cuisines, offering a world of taste experiences to the budget-conscious explorer.

You might like: Wing Wednesdays in London

Affordable Adventures in London

London may have a reputation for high costs, but with a strategic approach, you can enjoy the city without going broke. London has a host of amazing attractions and landmarks that you can visit for FREE! 

These include art galleries and museums including National Gallery, Tate Modern, British Museum and my personal favourite, the Southbank Centre art complex.

I would also highly recommend signing up for London’s TimeOut weekly email. It’s full of things to do which won’t break the bank! 

Smart Rent Strategies

Renting a house in London can be expensive. One way that you can make it affordable, is if you can share a house with others. However, you need to go in with your eyes wide open. 

  • Ask what Council Tax band the house is in.
  • What travel zone is it in? How much will it cost you to travel to work?

Another top tip that I will share with you: if the rent is cheap, ask how much the bills are.  All of these things add up and when the rent is cheap, ask yourself why!  Furthermore, after you have signed a contract, stay vigilant as rent costs can fluctuate. 

Affordable Clothing Choices

London is well known for its shopping – but not all of them are inexpensive! So, take time to explore budget-friendly high street stores and London outlets, such as Primark, H&M, and TK Maxx.

You could also peruse the many charity shops that London has to offer. My favourite places to explore charity shops include Streatham High Road, Northcote Road, Battersea and Holloway Road.

Join your local library

Did you know that London has over 325 libraries – more than any other city in the world! 

Barbican & Community Libraries is the name for the City of London’s public lending libraries. They are free to join for anybody who lives, works or studies or is a regular visitor to the City of London.

Libraries are not only a great place to borrow books, but there’s also audio books, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines, CDs, DVDs and free wifi too! What’s not to love! 

Final Thoughts: Living in London on a Budget

If you have any further ideas on how you can live in London on a budget, I’d love to hear from you!  I hope this blog can help you enjoy living in London, even if you are on a tight budget!

My name is Karen and I am a Finance Coach, blogging at Money and Marriage. I help couples to talk about money – without arguing.