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About to graduate and move to London? Here's how to budget

20th June 2014

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Finals are over and the hangovers have set in, which means it’s time for thousands of graduates to flock to London in search of their dream career. Before you start job hunting and viewing flats, take a look at this helpful guide to budgeting in the capital, brought to you by voucher code website

Graduate Living in London: The Stats

According to research, the average starting salary for graduates in London is £27,000. But this figure is likely to be skewed by the huge investment bank and law industry in the capital; let’s face it, unless you are a trainee lawyer or banker you are unlikely to earn £27,000 immediately (and don’t get your hopes up for the first few years either!)

Graduates in the rest of the UK typically begin on £24,000, and our own research shows that this is often the case in London too.So if we assume that you will begin your career on £24k, your take home monthly salary for 2014/15- after tax and student loan reductions- will be around £1,554. Sound like a lot? Prepare yourself for a blow!

Rent and Bills

Ahhh renting in London: a soul destroying prospect. All those dreams you had of living in your own place with wooden floorboards and a view of the Thames will quickly be crushed when you realise the only place you can afford is a tiny room in a flat share in Zone 3. Let’s take Brixton for example, an up and coming area with great transport links in the South West. A room in a four bed flat in Brixton will set you back on average £715 a month: ouch!

And don’t forget about bills. According to uSwitch, utility bills in a four bed average around £30 a month each. Council tax in Brixton is an additional £42, and let’s throw in an extra £8 for your internet and TV bundle package. In total, that comes to a whopping £795 a month on accommodation- just over half your take home wage.

Transport and Lunches

You might not need to drive a car in London, but all that travelling on the tube comes at a price. The cost of a monthly Oyster travel card currently stands at £120 for Zones 1-2, and increases slightly every year(paying monthly is often more economical than topping up as you go).

And while some people are organised enough to make pack lunches every day (respect), most of us end up nipping out to Sainsbury’s on our lunch break for a £3 meal deal. If you can’t start your morning without a large cappuccino, add on an extra £3. In total this comes to £6 every weekday, or a scary £120 a month.

Take rent, bills, travel and lunches away from your salary and you are left with just £498… sob!

Additional expenses

With your remaining £500 you will need to pay for groceries, clothes, toiletries, socialising, alcohol, phone bill… need we go on? Unfortunately, this is why London is ranked as one of the most expensive cities in the world- but if you aren’t put off by the prospect of being very poor, here are some ways you can save in London on a daily basis.

Tips for saving

-          Flat hunt in (gasp!) Zones 3-4: moving out of the city centre will dramatically cut your rent (but don’t forget to factor in additional travel costs). Popular but pricy areas to avoid include Clapham, Shoreditch, and Dalston.

-          Kick the coffee habit: avoiding those morning coffees will save you around £15 a week.

-          Take the bus: pay as you go Oyster users will find the bus cheaper than the tube. And always walk or cycle where you can!

-          Make your packed lunch: this involves some serious planning, but could save you £3 a day.

-          Avoid taxis: take the night bus instead, orif you really need to take a taxi, make a booking for a minicab.

-          Pre-drink on nights out: if you are heading on a night out, invite friends over beforehand for drinks so you don’t have to buy as many at the bar.

-          Get a taste card: Taste Cards give you 50% off or 2 for 1 at over 1000 restaurants in London, well worth the one-off £80 membership fee.

With some careful budgeting, living in London as a graduate is definitely affordable- but you won’t be moving into that dream flat just yet!

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