As someone born and brought up in the North of England, studying in London came with many new changes, some pros and some cons. I have been asked many times about my experience of living and studying in London so I’m writing this blog to go through my experience of accommodation, travel, food, activities and days out etc.
So, there is no sugar coating it, living in London is expensive and the bulk of your budget will go on accommodation. Especially when I compare it to prices students pay in Newcastle, the difference was very noticeable. In my first year I lived in Imperial student accommodation in South Kensington. I paid around £200/week from October to July, yep very expensive, but, I was living in South Kensington right next door to the Royal Albert Hall!! So considering the location, the price was very acceptable and provided the safety and convenience of living in student accommodation. This is something I highly recommend in your first year.
In my second and third year I rented a house in Hammersmith with some of my friends. This was cheaper, around £175/week, although it did come with extra bills. Hammersmith was a convenient place as it was another Imperial campus. It has good food places and easy access to tube and bus stations. House hunting was difficult especially with me living so far away from London so we made sure to start looking for houses early to secure a place before summer holidays.
Overall, accommodation being expensive was one of the cons of living in London. It takes a big chunk out of your savings so make sure you budget properly.
Without sounding like a broken record, travel in London is also expensive. But, it really depends on your location, university location and how much you are required to travel. I had to travel quite a lot since my campus was around 30-40 minutes away by tube/bus. So, I got a monthly tube pass for zone 1 and 2 with student discount which was around £90 per month. I would recommend to first check out your travel situation for the first week or two to see how much you are having to travel before committing to any travel passes because you might find its just cheaper to pay as you go. What ever you choose make sure you attach your student discount to your Oyster card to get a third off during off-peak times. It does take a bit of research during the first few weeks to see what plan suits you best.
Although travel is expensive, it is also very convenient in London with tube and bus connections every where! Try your best to avoid peak times as much as you can because tubes are absolutely packed. Remember buses don’t take cash so always have your Oyster card or a contactless card on you.
Okay so this is one of my big positives! Even though food is also slightly more expensive in London compared to Newcastle, the huge amount of options definitely outweighs that. To save costs on food I would recommend cooking for yourself and meal prepping most of the time. However, we all love a good meal out and London does not disappoint with a range of different restaurants and cafes offering different cuisines. If you are looking for “instagrammable” places you can try out various restaurants in SOHO, Covent Garden, along Thames River with views of the Bridge and London skyline and many more options within central London. You can find popular cafes like Elan Cafe, Peggy Porschen, SAID, The Breakfast Club and many more. Simply put, you will never get bored of food options in London and there are always new and exciting places to try! But do remember that being a student is expensive so don’t go wild on eating out all the time.
Days out & Activities
When studying in London make sure you don’t spend all your time studying, you really don’t want to waste this opportunity to check out all the amazing places in London. There is always something you can do London. You can visit all the tourist attractions like Tower Bridge, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben which i’m sure will be among the first things you do in London. London is also home to lots of theatres and West End where you can enjoy watching famous theatre shows like Wicked (highly recommend), The Lion King, Hamilton and many more. You can also find lots of activities like mini golf, escape rooms, go karting, karaoke etc. Spend a day at the zoo or one of the many scenic park. The list is endless and you and your friends will never get bored! This is definitely one of the perks of studying in London!
Resources & Opportunities
London is home to world-class education and opportunities. You have opportunities to attend top conferences, networking events, seminars, courses etc at all the amazing universities and institutes across London. These are great opportunities to meet new people or take part in useful events and programmes which will all help in your career path. The London universities are very well connected with societies often doing inter-uni events which are open to all. You also have access to world famous museums and research collections!
Overall, studying in London was amazing! Yes it was 3 of the most expensive years of my life but it was also 3 of the best. It was such a memorable experience and its no wonder London often ranks first in the list of best cities in the word to study. If you have the funds available, I would say go for it and study in London!