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Living it up in London on a student budget

3rd December 2013

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Learning to live within the tight constraints of a student loan can be a real challenge, but for a student in London – where the cost of living is infamously steep – striking the balance between living on a small budget and experiencing all that the city has to offer can seem like an impossible feat.

But if you know where to go, it’s possible to eat out, shop and enjoy London’s nightlife on a budget. Luckily for you, we’re here with some top tips on how you can enjoy the capital while maintaining a healthy bank balance.

Eating out

If you're a student, it's likely that you won't be spending many of your afternoons or evenings dining out in restaurants, but if you do fancy going out for a special occasion, there are plenty of places you can go to that won’t break the bank. For an affordable fresh lunch, head to the Borough Market near London Bridge. Here you’ll find freshly-baked cakes, quiches and delicious sandwiches at reasonable prices. Walk for just a couple of minutes to come out near the river and enjoy your meal with a view.  


It's safe to say that if you're studying in London, you'll want to experience the city's night-time offering at least a few times. While many of London’s clubs are known for their expensive entry fee, if you check online in advance or get yourself on the guest list, you’ll find that there’s often a half-price discount – especially if you get to the club before 11pm. In terms of bars and pubs, there are plenty of places that are much cheaper than you’d expect; check out this cheap London bars guide for ideas. Our personal favourite is Market House in Brixton – a cosy bar serving beautifully presented classic cocktails that only cost a fiver.


For the most part, shopping on a budget in London is like shopping in any other city in the UK, as you'll find all the same affordable high-street stores here that you’d expect to find in other cities. But if you're looking for something extra special – that's friendly on your purse – head to some of the capital's charity shops. Places like the British Red Cross in Chelsea and the Salvation Army charity shop near Oxford Circus (which is just around the corner from the Vogue offices and takes in designer cast-offs from its staff) are filled with exciting vintage and designer buys at prices that even the most cash-strapped student could afford. There are plenty of markets too, of course – head to Camden or Old Spitalfields for ecclectic finds.

Save money for friends and family

One of the major issues that students in London face is finding space to host visiting family members and friends. If you’re throwing a party and all available bed, sofa and floor space is taken, it can feel awkward to ask your nearest and dearest to fork out for a night in one of the capital’s expensive hotels. Help them save money by suggesting they stay in a hostel. It may surprise you to know that there are plenty of affordable, clean and comfortable hostels in the city centre. We recommend staying in one of YHA’s London hostels, which benefit from beautiful historical buildings, central locations and great prices.

Image courtesy of az1172 on Flickr.

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