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Articles > Money September, 26, 2018

London Student Survival Guide

Paul Sharpe
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7.64 / 10

London has recently been titled as the “most attractive city to live in”, but it is also one of the most expensive. As a student, I can’t help but feel guilty whenever I spend money when I know I should be saving. I am sure most people would agree that it is not always easy to say “no” to your friends. They don’t need to try hard to convince you to spend as they know the FOMO is just as strong as the guilt which comes with spending. Here are the ways I saved money as a London student:


Try something new while saving money…

There are plenty of familiar franchises where you can eat out around London (Las Iguanas, Wagamamas, Nandos). Whilst these have great menus, they are found everywhere, and can sometimes be a pricey option.  As a cheaper alternative I recommend trying the food stalls around London.

These are found on Southbank, outside the church in Waterloo or along the highstreet in Camden. There is a huge variety of food to choose from (Thai, Lebanese, Indian etc), and I can guarantee that you will be satisfied. By opting for the food carts you can find unique dishes you haven’t experienced before, with an average price of only £5.…or when eating in, cook for the group…

If you are living with friends, create a schedule where each of you cooks for the group once a week. That is 3 or 4 less meals for you to spend time, effort, or money on. This helps you create a routine and means you’ll have more time to do uni work.


There are a ton of cool free things to do as a London student. These are just a few of my favourites…

Sky Gardens : Get a view of London from the sky for free! Simply book your place online and once you are in you can stay there as long as you like. I recommend going just before sunset when you can see the transition of London from day to night.

Museums : Everyone knows about the Science and History museums, but have you been to the British Museum, Grant Museum of Zoology, Imperial War Museum, Ragged School Museum, Sherlock Holmes Museum, or Twinings Tea Shop. Most of these are also free (yay!)

Parks :  If you like wildlife go and visit the peacocks at Holland Park or the deer at Richmond Park.



This one can be a big money spender, but these three top tips will help you save when it comes to travelling in London…

The magic of the oyster card – It sounds obvious but using a student oyster card can save you lots. Contactless bank cards might be convenient, but you will be paying full adult fares.

Monthlys :  As a London student going to a university in zone 1, my 9-5 days, all week, every week meant that I was constantly travelling during rush hour. I made the investment of topping up “monthly” passes onto my oyster. By paying a lump sum of around £120 a month, I could use TFL as much as I wanted. It might seem like a huge chunk of money to spend in one go, but as well as being cheaper than the combined individual fares would be over a month, it was comforting knowing I did not need to waste time always topping up.

Attach your railcard : If you open a Santander student account, you get a free rail card (or you can buy one online). If you ask a TFL worker to attach your railcard to your oyster, you get an ADDITIONAL third off the price of tube rides at off-peak times.

Travel at the right times : If you do not have a monthly/weekly pass, travel at off-peak times for a cheaper journey.  It will also be a less congested journey so you’re more likely to get a seat.


Smart Purchases:

Uni is expensive whatever city you live in, so make sure to save on textbooks with these tips…

Ask people in the year above you which books are worth buying. Whilst lecturers give you a list of “101 must have” textbooks, previous students will have a much different answer.

Alternatively you can borrow from the library or use e-books which are generally much cheaper than buying a hard copy.



Between food shopping, clothes shopping and everything in between, a trip to the supermarket or high street can be very expensive, unless you know the right deals…

Student discounts : unidays for online discounts, and your uni I.D. for shopping in store. This will usually save you at least 20% in clothes shops.

Use Top Cashback when doing your online shopping. Using this website gives you money back on loads of online purchases.

End-of-day deals : Shop at supermarkets at closing times when the item prices are reduced.

Shop during sales : Avoid paying full price for an item if you don’t need it immediately. Just wait for the seasonal sales to find yourself bargain outfits.

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