In this post, CAPA Alumna Ellie Telander shares some of her top tips for budgeting while studying abroad in London!
There’s no doubt that London is an expensive city, but it doesn’t have to be, so don’t let that scare you! There’s plenty of ways to make London an affordable place to live. I would know–I did it! With overwhelming amounts of incredible restaurants, historical places to visit and endless things to do, it can be intimidating as to how to budget your money while living in such a bustling city. This city is worth every pound you’ll spend, and I will show you how to spend those pounds wisely. Here are some tips and tricks to use during your time in London that will have your bank account thanking you.
1. GO GROCERY SHOPPING.
You might be thinking "well duh," but it can be very easy to start eating out for multiple meals a day without even realizing it. Grabbing lunch here and there quickly adds up and before you realize it you’ve spent your week's worth of money on lunch alone! Yikes! Avoid this by packing your lunch for your classes or internship. Trust me, it will save more money than you think. One of the easiest ways to save money while abroad is to grocery shop for meals during the week. Think about it this way–if you save during the week you can splurge on the weekends! London has such amazing food options that you definitely should explore and try out, but that doesn’t have to be every day of the week. Some of my favorite budget friendly grocery stores in London that I frequented were Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Marks & Spencer. Although the grocery stores are a little different in the UK, you can still find almost anything that you can find here in the US so don’t worry about that. Plus, most of the grocery stores have pre-made salads, sandwiches, and other meals that make it easy to take on the go.
A salad is a quick and easy lunch to pack during the week.
2. LIMIT YOUR COFFEE SPENDING.
Trust me, I am guilty of getting Starbucks five out of the seven days in week. But learn from me and know that this isn’t a good habit to fall into. Although it may seem like just a few pounds here and there, it adds up quickly! You can still get your caffeine fix without hurting your wallet. Buy instant coffee or tea bags at the grocery store to keep at your flat. I know you might be thinking, what’s instant coffee? I thought the same; it’s not something we see a lot in the US! In the UK however, it is very popular and tends to be the way the Brits drink their coffee when at the office or at home. Buying a tub of instant coffee is very affordable and lasts for a while so this is a great option to have at your flat as you won’t have a coffee machine. Also, be sure to look for free coffee and tea! There’s a good chance that your internship office will have coffee and tea available to you.
3. FIND FREE THINGS TO DO.
Just because London can be expensive, doesn’t mean there aren’t free things to do! London offers a ton of free things that you can do during your time there.
Almost all of London’s museums are free, so take advantage of this! There are some spectacular museums with some of the most world-renowned art and artifacts that you should be sure to check out. Some of my favorites to visit were the V&A and the Tate Modern.
Tate Modern Museum
Looking for a view? Sky Garden offers one of the best views of London and the best thing about it, it’s free! You have to book your tickets in advance so plan for this one, but make sure to pay it a visit! You won’t regret the amazing views you will get from London’s highest pubic garden.
Inside the Sky Garden
4. HANG OUT IN THE PARK.
There’s nothing better than a nice day in London spent at the beautiful Hyde Park. Grab a few friends and a book and your set for a relaxing day. Pack a picnic and a blanket and enjoy your time watching (or feeding) the beautiful swans in the lake.
5. EXPLORE THE MANY MARKETS AROUND THE CITY.
London is home to some incredible food and shopping markets that can easily fill your day. The markets are a great place to spend a Saturday and are of course free to attend! Going out for lunch at a market won’t break the bank either– market food is some of the best quality food that you can get for a cheap price. Here are some of my favorite markets to attend in the city. Although it may seem that markets are just for shopping, it’s just as fun to just look through what the markets have to offer!
Camden Market: I could get lost for hours at Camden Market. The food at Camden Market alone is enough to have me wanting to stay all day, but beyond the food is a ton of shopping! You can find everything from vintage shops to Urban Outfitters and everything in between. They have purses galore and any accessory you can think of at the endless amounts of street vendors in Camden. Once you reach the food market you are sure to have worked up an appetite from all the shopping to look at. The food options are endless and there is something for everyone!
Borough Market: Hungry? Borough Market is the answer! This market is strictly food, so come here for a cheap and delicious lunch that will have you full all day! You can hang out and enjoy your delicious food in the seating that Borough Market has for its attendees.
Portobello Market: Located in the most whimsical, charming neighborhood of Notting Hill, Portobello Market takes the cake for me. Although they have food vendors, the focus of Portobello Market is the antique and vintage shops. You could get lost for hours just looking at the painted teacup mugs or vintage coats lined up on the street. Spending a day at Portobello Market will have you leaving with a smile, I can guarantee that.
Meet Ellie Telander, a University of Missouri - School of Journalism student studying Journalism and Strategic Communications. She studied abroad in London in Spring 2018 and is a CAPA Ambassador this fall.