Precious Pennies

Money saving tips for living in London

28 April, 2020

Despite the higher wages offered in London, day-to-day costs from transport to food can add up very quickly and leave you wondering where your hard-earned money disappeared to. No, it wasn’t a leprechaun with his hand down your pocket and no, it wasn’t because you splashed out on overpriced tourist attractions. So what was it? Grab yourself an instant coffee and lets nut out where that rogue money disappeared to and how you can wrangle in some extra pennies.

Bills 💷

Bills. Bills. Bills.

Of course the biggest cost is simply putting a roof over your head. Gone are the days of living at home for free with only the simple requirement to contain your overflowing mess to the confines of your bedroom and occasionally offer to take your own laundry out of the machine.

For two people in a double room in Zones 1-2, you’re looking at paying at least £1,200 per month in a shared flat, and upwards of £1,700 for a decent flat to yourselves. Expect to be living in an apartment, studio flat or terraced house. You’d be lucky to have a shared garden area or private entrance from the street, let alone the things we take for granted in NZ like a separate living room or garage.

Now remember I said “Bills. Bills. Bills.”? On top of rent, there are the usual costs of electricity, gas, water, internet, streaming platforms and so on, but in addition there are also the sneaky little kickers of the council tax and tv licence. You may end up paying upwards of £100 per month in council tax and slipping in there at £13.13 per month, the tv licence to watch your standard tv channels like BBC 1 and BBC 2.

Grocery shopping 🛒

Shopping from store to store can at times appear deceptively similar. Just picking up a litre of milk from Tesco, a bunch of bananas at ASDA or a ready-made meal from M&S can all seem like insignificant incisions on the bank balance, however, these inefficiencies in spending can quickly add up. There are two parts to this; Where you shop and how you shop.

Eating out 🍕

Eating out in London is pretty expensive. Yep. From my personal experience of eating out….once….I can conclusively confirm that a brunch for two with coffees is equivalent to a weekly shop. (Ok, I’ve got to admit that it was a really nice brunch though!) Also, what’s up with Pizza Hut over here? Where are the $5 pizzas at?? didn’t pull through for us either mate.

Transport 🚌

Most people in London rely on public transport to get around and while one trip in Zones 1-2 for £2.40 on the tube might not sound like a lot, once you double that for a round trip and multiply that by five for a week, your basic work commute costs start to add up. If you head out to a catch up, or for an activity after work, add on another fare. If you do anything during the weekend, continue to add on the fares to your weekly total.

There is a maximum daily limit of £7.20 in Zones 1-2, with this maximum increasing as you move into zones further out from central London. Really though, you would not want to be maxing out every day unless you were making decent savings on your accommodation to offset commute costs. Having a car in London isn’t great either with a daily congestion charge of £11.50 for driving a vehicle within the charging zone during the week.

Shopping & Entertainment 🛍

People are drawn to London for the famous shopping high streets and the sweeping events scene. With plenty of demand, many clothing and accessory shops have no problem with setting sky-high prices. Likewise, West End theatres manage to sell tickets for hundreds of pounds night after night to long-running stage shows. By no means, forgo the shopping and entertainment opportunities while you’re here but save money here and there as you can without compromising your experience.

Wrapping up 🎁

Phewf! If you’ve made it through this list of tips, then congratulations and you're welcome for the distraction from online shopping or any other wallet-draining activities you might have otherwise done during this time.

Happy saving!