5 Tips to save money in London

As many of you might know, London is a very expensive city. Especially for students who are going to do their internship or master and have to save a lot money before spending it in the capital city of the UK. I hope this top 5 of saving money tips can help you!

Are you planning to go to London or any other city outside your own country to study? You should definitely do it! It's obviously not the easiest way, but I have never regretted a moment that I started here and you'll always be better off in the end. Mainly if English is not your native language, you will improve a lot. Before you start this adventure, you have to remember that you should definitely take some preparation and especially in financial matters. Especially, don't underestimate the housing costs, because the rent can be very high. I share my room with my sister because she does her internship as well here in London. The room is located in a residential area in wonderful Stoke Newington, but we pay £ 750 per month (~ € 944)!

Here a little tip if you're looking for a room: If you're coming from outside London and looking for a room already, choose a room where you do not immediately sign up for half a year. At many rooms on the internet you will see the cost amount per week, so with many agencies you can pay per week and you get also a notice period of one week. Choose a room which you take with confidence and see if you like the location, the surroundings, your flat mates, the room and of course the rent. If it’s not, then just go looking for your dream room from there. Also, you can always look for an Airbnb room and look from there for a place to live.

Often it's the little things that can save you money. Here is my top 5 saving tips:

Tip 1: Buy Skype credit if you have to make a lot of calls
The internship that I have now, I didn’t got it for nothing. To get it, I had to send mails and make calls to more than 60 companies in three weeks. First out of the Netherlands and then I spend two weeks in London. Because I had to make more than 150 phone calls, it’s almost unpayable to pay with your regular mobile credit. Therefor I put credit on my Skype account so I only paid a few cents per call. Also, you can display your own phone number, in order to be called back. In the end I spend something like € 15 in total.

Tip 2: Travel by bus instead of the tube
In the few times I've been to London on holiday I have always traveled by subway, known as the Tube. With a length of 402 kilometers of underground rails, London has one of the largest tube systems in the world and there is always a tube station nearby. But.. if you don’t need to lay off any great distances, you should consider taking the bus. Besides that you will see much more of the area, especially if you sit on the upper deck, you will also save a lot of money. You just have to check in and pay £ 1.45 a time. You pay up to £ 4.40 per day, so you can travel for free the rest of the day after 4 check-ins (and pay just 5p for the fourth check-in)! It is wise to buy an Oyster Card, a kind of 'anonymous OV Chipcard', where you deposit £ 5 which you get back when you return the card again. Travel with Oyster Card is always cheaper than individual tickets and on the bus you can now no longer pay with cash.

Tip 3: (Temporarily) free 3G abroad
It is wonderful and has become almost normal to have internet anywhere in the Netherlands. If you go abroad, you mostly have to hop from wifi-spot to wifi-spot, and then of course the free spots from most coffee shops. Because I wanted to use an English phone number here, I bought a prepaid sim card from Lyca Mobile. Very simple, nothing fancy, but.. I've just had the first few months unlimited 3G! After two months, I received a message that I have to pay from that moment but the first two months it was for free. Regrettably, I can’t find any confirmation on the Internet, so it could be that I've just received it by mistake. But try it for yourself!

Tip 4: Stop your student travel right
Are you a Dutch student and do you receive your journey fund? Cancel your OV Chipcard when you go abroad for a long time. You can receive compensation of € 102.29 per month if you sign up for ‘OV vergoeding buitenland’. Unfortunately I founded this out too late so it didn't have any use for me. Are you going to school by bike every day and do you also want to exchange your journey right for these benefits? Unfortunately, your school counselor has to confirm that you are really going abroad.

Tip 5: Get cash at a free ATM
Huh? A free ATM? Yes, you have to pay at some ATMs to withdraw money. This is not about the money you bank calculates because you withdraw money abroad, but this is what the provider of the machine gets. Especially the areas where many tourists and so many stores are, you may find that you have to pay sometimes up to 4 pounds per cash withdrawal. Do you want to be sure that they do not charge extra money? Usually it is on the display of the machine or the machine itself, if you can withdraw for free or what the amount is they want. Incidentally, it may be that your bank also charges a certain amount per withdraw. Refer to the website of your bank for that.

If you have the chance to do an internship abroad, just like me here in London: Take this opportunity! Hopefully these tips will save you money if you plan to travel through London. Do you still doubt if you want to go to London after this article? Please contact me for all the ins and outs and I will change your mind!