The real cost of London Living

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According to Numbeo you need around £4,481.67 in London to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with £2,700.00 in Leeds (assuming that you rent). Being from the North myself the alien world of London life seems sometimes outrageously expensive and unattainable. However come June I will be moving there for a whole year to complete a placement and many students like myself will inevitably at some point have to tackle the costs of London life, whether it be when they graduate or later on in their professional life. So what are the real costs of living in London? Can you live economically in the one of Europe’s wealthiest cities? Luckily I have friends currently living in London who have shed some light on the situation and have given me a few tips on how to keep costs as low as possible.


Your rent of course depends on where you choose to live in London because the prices can be dramatically different according to the area. Bexley, Havering and Barking, and Dagenham in the south-east of the city are some of the cheapest boroughs to rent in, in some cases being £2000 less than the most expensive places such as Chelsea. However typically in central London you will be able to find places starting at around £180 per week but if you want more for your money then looking in the cheaper boroughs is the best option.

Lunch and Coffee

Again this depends on where you are looking and what you are looking for. But at a non-chain café you are looking around £5-7 on food and about £3.50 for a standard coffee. This doesn’t seem particularly extortionate, especially compared to business school café prices… However, incurring this cost on a daily basis would mean spending around £63 a week on lunch and coffee so maybe it would be best to treat this as a luxury.


The London underground is one of the best systems of transport that I have come across. Using an oyster card or contactless card makes it so easy and the highest cost of travelling between zones is only £3.10! Nevertheless, it does all add up, especially if you need to travel for work on a daily basis. There are also travel cards that can help you reduce costs by paying a monthly fee. However one of the best pieces of advice is just to walk. Sometimes it’s just too easy to get the tube to somewhere that could only be a 5 or 10 minute walk, even though it can often be confusing trying to find your way around London it is an easy way to save money and help you get familiar with your surroundings.

Night out

This is one of the most shocking costs of London when you are used to the cheapness of Leeds nightlife. Again it obviously varies on where you go but most bars have cocktails around the £15 mark and you are lucky if you can get anything cheaper. A single vodka and coke in a club is around £12 and my friend even admits to paying £20 for a single one time, I could probably spend the same amount on two nights out in Leeds. Unfortunately on top of this you also have to pay club entry and guys fair worse than girls here. Girls often get in free or pay discounted prices whereas the poor guys usually have to pay about £20 just to get in… So really you need to be taking out a mortgage to afford a night out. You can, if you are smart, do things a little cheaper by attending student nights and pre-drinking which is probably one of the most important life lessons that Uni has taught me.

London life is not cheap and it’s a well-known fact that students living there often struggle with their loans not supporting them. However, if you are smart there are ways of making daily life more affordable.

By Shona Augustinus

(Photo from: Imperial College London)

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