Sher was reminiscing of her time spent in London as a student who worried constantly about the high cost of living in London. For non-EU citizens, the cost of an undergraduate degree in London's universities can easily cost more than £10k per year and we are not even talking about the cost of reading materials and living expenses. That can be quite substantial unless you plan to survive on bread rolls and tea bags donated by your kind professors.
A studio flat in London Zone 1 will set you back around £1,200 per month. I know of a guy who opted for a one room flat in an ex-council building in King's Cross that goes for just £800 per month. If privacy, security and travelling time are not your top concerns, you can consider doing a flat share with your mates in Zone 2 (or even 3) for less than £300 per month. But you'll have to contend with rail networks that are conveniently closed for engineering works on weekends, which pretty much demolish any figment of social life you might have.
Other than accommodation, food is the primary cost when it comes to surviving in London. Surprisingly, if you're only concern about filling your stomach, there are rather low cost staple food available in the supermarkets. Tesco sells long grain rice (not the fragrant variety mind you) for just £0.60 per 500g pack. Baked beans goes for £0.50 per can at Sainsbury. So other than bread rolls, you can treat yourself to an occasional steam rice with baked beans. That's carbohydrates with proteins and you can get by for less than £3 per week. That's a painful existence indeed.
Transport comes a close third. Currently, a Tube ride costs £1.50 within Zone 1 and a bus ride costs £0.90 regardless of distance. Clearly, if you're on a shoestring budget, hopping on buses is the way to go. However, please be forewarn that you are at the whims and fancy of bus drivers. I have been asked to alight way before my destination, in the middle of nowhere, just because the driver's shift is over.
Do you have any tips on surviving London on a tiny budget? Do leave me a comment and I'll compile a list in a future post with a link back of course.