Photo of London skyline
Photo of London skyline

Setting up home as a recent graduate or apprentice in the UK’s capital city is exciting. But it can also be a little daunting, and more than a little expensive. We’ve put together this guide to London life, to help you make your money go further and have some fun at the same time.

Where to Live

Accommodation in a city like London can be expensive. It’s a very popular place to live and there’s a lot of competition for places to rent. But it’s still possible to live in London affordably.

Sharing a house is a great option. It makes sense as everyone shares the bills. It might even make it affordable to save a little money towards your own place, too. Plus, its often possible to have services such as high speed broadband or cable television because the costs are more affordable for each individual. And of course keeping the house clean and tidy is easier when it’s a communal effort.

Everyone has their dream London location. But the reality is that a dream location often has a hefty price tag. Look a little further afield and compromise here and there to get better value, whilst still having easy access to everything the city has to offer. For example, rents in Erith in the borough of Bexley are less than half the London average. Neighbouring Sidcup and Bexleyheath are also great value. There’s some of London’s best parks and gardens in the area, and fast rail links into the city.

Do your research, be prepared to put your dream location on hold for a little bit, and you may end up somewhere unexpected that you love, and, at a great price.

Where to Fill your Fridge and Eat Out

Shopping at one of the growing number of European discount supermarkets can be up to 20% cheaper than one of their UK competitors. They can be cheaper on a huge range of essentials such as bread, milk, eggs, bacon, potatoes and carrots. The brands may not be household names in the UK but all offer great quality at a great price.

If you’re looking for something special to cook for a birthday dinner, a date, or for when you parents are visiting, head for the supermarket “reduced” sections. There’s great savings to be made on food and drink that’s close to its “use by” date. You’ll find ready meals, fresh meat, vegetables, desserts and much, much more.

For something different, visit one of London’s 20 farmers markets. You’ll find artisan bread, rare-breed meats, all kinds of cheese, and often there’ll be plants and cut flowers, too. Farmers markets are a great way to find local seasonal food that’s not done hundreds of air miles packaged in plastic. Fresh, tasty, and a great way to support your local economy.

With the money you’re saving by shopping cheaply, you may want to have a meal out and let someone else do the cooking. There’s dozens of places in London offering a plate of something tasty for just a few pounds. Great pizza, pasta, noodles, salads, soups and stews can all be found all across the city, and often just around the corner from where you live. Jump on Google and you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Where to Drink

London has thousands of pubs, in all shapes and sizes. From high street chains to exclusive and discreet bars and clubs, there’s something for everyone, at prices that don’t take your breath away.

Just a few feet from Trafalgar Square, The Chandos pub has fantastic character. There’s alcoves with stained glass windows, large communal tables, and plenty of laughter and conversation. With competitively priced drinks, it’s perfect for a night out in town that won’t break the bank.

If the sun’s still shining when you finish a long day, head for The Prince at West Brompton Crossing, Earls Court. It offers three bars and four street food restaurants, all adjoining a beautiful English garden. There’s regular live music, natural light and an amazing atmosphere.

For cocktails at an apprentice or graduate-friendly great price, head to Bar Story at Blenheim Grove SE15. It’s dog-friendly, open seven days a week and also serves great pizzas. You’ll find it nestled between the arches of Peckham Rye station.

Where to Shop

Everyone likes a bargain, especially when it comes to clothes, or something useful or decorative for the home. There’s nothing like finding a great item at a great price, especially if its vintage or unique. London has lots to offer the bargain hunter, whatever you are shopping for. Some places are right in front of your nose, and some are a little bit more off the beaten track.

Don’t rule out the high street when it comes to finding fashion bargains. It’s become relatively straightforward to find good value clothing that’s also fashionable. A stroll down Oxford Road in the heart of the city is all you need. As well as the more luxury brand department stores, you’ll find clothes shops with affordable prices, as well as designer-label discount bargains.

London’s great for outlet stores, too. At Hackney Walk you’ll find stores by some of the coolest names in fashion offering their goods at up to 70% off their regular price. Chelsea’s Kings Road is another haven for outlet stores, with huge savings to be made. You’ll look a million dollars for a few pounds.

When it comes to vintage finds, head over to Shoreditch or to Camden Market. There’s a great selection of shops with a huge range of amazing vintage clothes and collectables. Its great fun to browse, and there’s so much else happening in these neighbourhoods that you won’t regret making the trip.

We hope this brief guide to living affordably in London is useful. Ask your colleagues for their tips and ideas, too. Spend wisely and budget, and you can enjoy everything that London has to offer.

If London sounds like the place for you, why not apply to our Graduate roles or Apprenticeship roles?

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