18 December 2006

Living in London - Expenses

Since a lot of people have asked me over and over again what living in London actually costs, I thought about putting up some figures for you, now that I have been living here for three months and can therefore present you with the experiences I have made so far.

Accomodation:
Student halls of residence are the cheapest thing there is, according to what I have heard, also the least complicated. Most of them are located within Central London, that is, Zone 1, ergo you can save a lot of money that you'd otherwise spend on transport. Dinwiddy costs around 100 £ per week, utilities included (I remember from SOAS's orientation meetings that people who have to pay utilities themselves were advised to use the shower in the gym if they join a sports club, not a bad idea). Needless to say, there are a zillion people out there who are competing for accomodation!

Getting around:
As I have repeatedly said, students pay 650 £ per year for transport within Zone 1 (or maybe also Zone 2). If you are unlucky enough to live in Zone 5, well... This and the dense traffic are the reasons why a lot of people just walk or risk cycling. An adult tube ticket costs 3 £ without concessions. If you have an Oyster Card (a pre-pay electronic card), travel off rush hours or complete your errands all in one day, it gets cheaper.
Buses are the cheapest options of getting around, also nation-wide. A return ticket for a bus to Edinburgh (several hundred kilometres away) for example costs around 30 £ whereas you would have to pay 22,20 £ for a return ticket for a train to Luton (not more than 50 km away)!

Shopping:
I have never been a shop-'til-you-drop or drink-until-you-drown person, so I will focus on shopping for necessities such as food, toiletries etc.
Well... I am a quite modest person and spend 10-20 £ per week on food. I don't feel malnourished in any way. If you compare UK to Austrian prices, you will find that the amount is usually the same, only that instead of € you pay in £. For instance, if you buy a mango for 80 pence, it costs you 80 cents in Austria or if you spend 1,30 € on onions in Austria, they will cost you 1,30 £ over here. => If you add 50 % to the Austrian price, you can roughly judge your expenses. Of course there are some places where you can go shopping for less, depending on which product you are looking for, for example the 1-Pound-Shop or China Town (for Asian food). And if you know where to look, there are a couple of cheap offers or freebies (for example, free condoms from your doctor). Loads of services are offered by your university as well and since you pay them that much, you should really take advantage of all you can get!

If you have any further questions, please post them here so everyone can profit!

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