London has always been associated with a high cost of living, but in recent years, it’s become even worse. The average annual cost of rent in London is now £26,316, easily the highest in all of the UK, and the cost of basic essentials like groceries have skyrocketed.
How can you cope with this high and seemingly ever-increasing cost of living?
The obvious option is to consider moving. The cost of living in London may be ridiculously high, but there are many areas of the world (and even the UK) with much more affordable expenses. If you’re willing to change locations, you can dramatically reduce your living expenses without having to sacrifice anything other than the area in which you reside.
If you live in London for work, consider pushing to make your position remote, or looking for remote jobs. Remote work has become popular enough lately that you should have no trouble finding a position that allows you to work in a different location.
And yes, moving can be expensive, but as long as you can save up the initial expenses, you’ll likely make up for them within a few months once you get your expenses down.
- Another country. With an ESTA, you can easily travel to the United States (or other countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program). Consider exploring other countries with lower costs of living, even if you have to do this “exploring” online to save money. You might be surprised at how many developed, thriving countries have average rent prices that are a fraction of what you typically find in London.
- Another town. If you want to stay in the UK, you can always move to another town. London isn’t the only city worth living in.
- A different part of town. Even if you want to stay in London, you can save a lot of money simply by moving to a different part of town, where rent is cheaper. You’ll likely have to make some compromises and sacrifices, such as living further away from transportation options or living in an area with a slightly higher crime rate, but these may be worth the savings.
You can also move to a smaller apartment, which could ultimately save you hundreds of pounds per month.
Commit to minimising food costs
Aside from housing, one of your next biggest expenses is going to be food. You can mitigate the effects of living in a high-cost area by committing to minimizing these food costs with the following strategies:
- Cook at home. Going out to eat may seem like a reasonable expense, but it’s prohibitive if you go out to eat frequently. Cooking at home is much less expensive, and you can often prepare meals rivaling the quality of what you would find in restaurants. Yes, it takes some education and practice to hone your cooking skills, but once you become competent, you won’t even want to eat at a restaurant.
- Look for discounts and bargains. Always be on the lookout for discounts and bargains. If you search actively, you can often find opportunities to cash in on free food – or take advantage of sales, coupons, and special offers. If you go to a local market, you can pick up some great deals, and you may even be able to haggle for a better price.
- Grow and forage. Assuming you have a bit of space to work with or an indoor hydroponic garden, you can grow your own food quite cheaply. If you’re willing to go exploring, you can also forage for a surprising number of food items, including berries, flowers, greens, and mushrooms. Together, these practices can provide you with a bountiful supply of ingredients for next to nothing.
Cut entertainment expenses entirely
It’s likely that many of your entertainment expenses can be cut entirely. Instead of subscribing to multiple streaming channels, you can rely on free channels like YouTube and libraries for your content consumption. Instead of paying for a gym membership, stay in shape by running, walking, lifting in your apartment, and doing basic calisthenics.
Subsidise your living space
If your lease agreement allows it, you may be able to subsidize your living space. You can sublet a section of your apartment or host a roommate to mitigate your expenses.
Pick up easy side gigs
If these measures still aren’t enough, you can pick up some easy side gigs to make extra money. Depending on your skills, you may be able to generate some extra revenue with photography, writing, design, or help with errands.
The cost of living in London may be excruciatingly high, and it’s not likely to come down anytime soon, but there are many different strategies you can use to avoid or manage it. Try a combination of tactics to make your financial situation much more palatable.