Are you new to London?: Settle, Study, Cheap Accommodation, Child Care – A Complete Guide

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Are you new to London, UK?: A Complete Guide to Settle, Study, Enjoy Economically, Expenses Overview

MANDATORY EXPENSES IN LONDON

London, the capital of the U.K., is the fourth most expensive city in the world. It means living here can cost a lot of money. The monthly expenses in London include rent, travel, monthly bills like council tax, gas & electricity bills, internet costs, phone bills, grocery expenditures, education and childcare costs, travel expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses. This can be hard to manage, especially for students, and couples who are starting their fresh lives in London. This article provides detailed information on how much it might cost you to live in London each month and also gives you an idea of how to budget every month.

1. London Zones: Know the zones in London

London is divided into 6 main zones, each covering specific areas. The cost of living in London varies across the different zones. The most expensive areas in London are typically found in Zone 1, which covers Central London and neighborhoods like Chelsea, Kensington, Belgravia, and Mayfair. These areas are known for their high property prices, luxury facilities, and luxurious lifestyles. Chelsea, Kensington, and Belgravia are among the top three most expensive areas in London, with Chelsea being the most expensive due to strong domestic demand and desirable properties.

Zone 1:

London Zone 1 covers central London and includes areas like the City of London, Camden, Hackney, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth,
Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, and Westminster.

Major attractions in Zone 1 include Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London, the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, the British Museum, and the Science Museum.

Zone 2:

Zone 2 in London covers various areas, including Greenwich, Richmond, Wimbledon, Chiswick House, Cutty Sark, Dulwich Picture Gallery, and Ham House.

Major Attractions in London Zone2:

Greenwich, The Brunel Museum, Whitechapel Gallery, Street Art in Shoreditch, Bixton Windmill, Crossness Pumping Station, Maltby Street Market, Thames Path, Bermondsey Beer Mile.

Zone 3:

London Zone 3 covers both Inner London and Outer London areas. Inner London includes Camden, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Newham, Southwark, and Wandsworth. Outer London areas in Zone 3 consist of Barnet, Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Greenwich, Hounslow, Merton, Richmond upon Thames, and Waltham Forest.

Major Attractions in London Zone3: 

Victoria Park, Wanstead Park, Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath, Lee Valley Regional Park, Queen’s Park, South Norwood Country Park, Walthamstow Wetlands, Sydenham Hill Wood.

Zone 4:

London Zone 4 covers various areas in both Inner London and Outer London. In Inner London, Zone 4 includes Lewisham, Haringey, and Newham. In Outer London, it covers Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Greenwich, Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton, and Waltham Forest. Additionally, Zone 4 extends into Epping Forest in Essex.

Major Attractions in London Zone4: 

RAF Museum, Petersham Nurseries, Eltham Palace, Bay Bay Oriental, Wembley Stadium.

Zone 5:

Zone 5 in London covers various areas, including Albany Park, Becontree, Belvedere, Berrylands, Bexleyheath, Buckhurst Hill, Chislehurst,
Dagenham East, East Croydon, Enfield Chase, Harrow & Wealdstone, Hounslow, North Harrow, Pinner, South Croydon, Stanmore, Twickenham, and many more. These areas are part of Transport for London’s zonal fare system for travel on the London Underground, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, and National Rail services.

Major Attractions in London Zone5: 

Wimbledon, Kew Gardens, London City Airport, London Bridge, Eel Piel Island, Alexandra Palace

Zone 6:

Zone 6 in London covers various areas within Greater London and extends into parts of Surrey, Essex, and Hertfordshire. Some of the areas covered
under London Zone 6 include Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Enfield, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames, and Richmond upon Thames. Additionally, Zone 6 includes locations like Elmbridge in Surrey, Epping Forest in Essex, and Hertsmere in Hertfordshire. Berxley, Croydon, Havering, Newham, Enfield, Sutton, Greenwich, Lewisham, Barking and Dagenham are the most affordable areas in London.

Major Attractions in London Zone6: 

Heathrow Airport, Termination point for various stations. Berxley, Croydon, Havering, Newham, Enfield, Sutton, Greenwich, Lewisham, Barking and Dagenham are the most affordable areas in London.

2. ACCOMODATION

The cost of accommodation in London varies depending on the type of accommodation and location. For students, renting a room in a shared house or flat can range from around $500 to $800 per month on average. Families and couples looking for a one-bedroom apartment can expect to pay between $1,200 to $2,000 per month, while larger properties like two-bedroom apartments or houses can cost between $1,800 to $3,500 per month.
In terms of affordability, areas like Zone 3 and beyond tend to offer more budget-friendly options compared to central London (Zones 1 and 2). Zones 4, 5, and 6 generally have more affordable rents.

The following are the websites that provide affordable accommodation options:

Rightmove.co.uk

Rightmove.co.uk is the UK’s top property website, providing a vast selection of properties for sale and rent from estate agents and developers. The
website allows users to search for properties by town name, postcode, or station, making it easy to find homes that match their needs and budget.

Zoopla

It is a popular website in the UK for finding properties to buy or rent. Zoopla was founded in 2007 in London by Alex Chesterman and has since grown to become a leading player in the real estate industry, with over 40 million monthly users worldwide. It helps people search for homes and provides information on house prices and trends. Zoopla connects buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants through its platform, making it easy to find the right property.

sharedaccomodation.uk

Shared accommodation in the UK (sharedaccomodation.uk), like shared ownership, provides a more affordable way to live in a house or flat. In shared accommodation, you rent a room and share common areas like the kitchen and living room with other people. This can be a cost-effective option compared to renting a whole property on your own.

3. TRANSPORTATION:

The travel cost in London varies depending on different zones. The transportation costs per day for each zone from Zone 1 to Zone 6 in London are as follows:

  • Zone 1: Approximately $7.70 per day
  • Zone 2: Approximately $7.70 per day
  • Zone 3: Approximately $9.00 per day
  • Zone 4: Approximately $11.00 per day
  • Zone 5: Approximately $13.10 per day
  • Zone 6: Approximately $13.10 per day

Use cost-effective transportation methods like public transport, cycling, or ride-sharing services to minimize travel expenses. Exploring London affordably is easy with various transport options:

London Buses:

A single bus ride costs $1.75, and unlimited daily bus travel with an Oyster card or contactless payment card is $5.25.

Santander Cycles:

Use Santander Cycles for £1.65 for 30 minutes, with additional 30-minute rides at the same price.

Oyster Card:

Purchase a Visitor Oyster card before arriving in London to save money on journeys and the card itself. Visitor Oyster Cards are cheaper to buy
($5) than a normal Oyster Card ($7).

London Underground (Tube):

The Tube is convenient for central London travel; using an Oyster card for Tube journeys saves money.

Taxi:

Licensed black cabs are available with metered fares.

4. COUNCIL TAX:

Council tax is a local taxation system in the United Kingdom that is based on the value of domestic properties. The residents pay to fund essential services provided by local authorities, such as emergency services, libraries, schools, and street lights. Council tax is important as it plays a major role in financing essential local services that benefit residents and communities. Council Tax in the UK is a mandatory payment for residents over 18
years old, typically based on the number of adults living in a home. Students, apprentices, disabled individuals, single occupants, and certain other groups are exempt from or qualify for discounts. The cost of council tax in the UK ranges from $120 to $160 for individuals, with shared accommodation costs being inclusive. Students are generally exempt from council tax.

Council tax in the UK typically ranges from $120 to $160 per month for individuals living alone. In shared accommodations, this cost is usually included in the rent. Students are often exempt from paying council tax, providing them with a financial benefit during their studies.

5. WATER BILL:

The average water bill in London can vary based on several factors, including the size of the property, the number of occupants, and water usage. On average, a water bill for a couple in London might range from $300 to $500 per year. Students typically live in shared accommodations, which means the water bill is divided among the tenants. For example, if a student is sharing a flat with three other students, the water bill per person might be lower compared to a couple living alone.

Students (Shared Accommodation) Per person: $15 – $25 per month. The cost of water for families can vary greatly depending on the size of the family and their water usage habits. Larger families are more likely to use more water, resulting in higher bills.

  • Small family (2-4 occupants): $35 – $60 per month
  • Medium family (4-6 occupants): $50 – $80 per month
  • Large family (6+ occupants): $70+ per month

6. GAS & ELECTRICITY:

The cost of gas and electricity in London varies between summer and winter. During winter, there is typically higher demand for both gas and electricity due to heating needs.

  • Students in shared accommodation might expect to pay around $30–$50 per month in winter and $20–$30 per month each in summer for gas and electricity.
  • Couples living in a small apartment or flat may see their gas and electricity bills increase to around $60–$100 per month during the winter. During the summer, they expected to pay around $40–$70 per month.
  • Families living in larger homes can expect higher gas and electricity bills of around $100 to $200 per month during winter and $80 to $150 or more per month in summer.

7. MEDICAL AND EDUCATION:

In London, medical and educational services are available for free until university. Education in the UK is compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 16. While primary and secondary education is free, higher education in the UK, including universities, is not entirely free. These fees vary depending on the university and the course you choose. Regarding higher education, while education up to university level is free in the UK, this typically only applies to citizens and certain residents of the UK. For international students, including those studying in London, tuition fees are applicable.

Studying in the UK can be costly, but there are various scholarships, grants, and financial aid options available to help students cover the costs of higher education. Scholarships, like the Clarendon Fund at the University of Oxford, Commonwealth Scholarships, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Goa Education Trust Scholarship, and Rhodes Scholarships at the University of Oxford, offer full or partial financial support. Some universities provide
fully funded courses, especially in research-intensive fields, with stipends for living expenses. For international students pursuing education in the UK, including London, tuition fees can range from $10,000 to $20,000 per year for undergraduate bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. While the cost of living in the UK is high, students can benefit from discounts, affordable accommodation options, and student support services to make their education more affordable.

8. BUYING TV:

In London, when you buy a TV, you need to get a TV license, which costs $12.88 per month. This license is necessary for watching live TV, regardless of the channel or device used. Additionally, for viewers interested in accessing Tamil channels in London, there are specific providers such as Lyca TV and Libra TV. The cost of accessing these channels typically ranges around $60 per year. Some of these services also let you make cheap
calls to India. Furthermore, there may be discounts available for internet and TV channel subscriptions, especially during festive seasons or promotional periods. This helps you save money or get more channels. You can also sign up for internet streaming services like Sky or Virgin Media. They have lots of channels, including Tamil ones. Customers can inquire about Indian channels to access content from India. You can pick a package
that fits what you want and what you can afford.

9. MOBILE PLAN:

To buy a phone in London, you have various options depending on your needs and budget. Phones in the UK range from a few pounds to over $1,000. If you’re moving to the UK and have a phone from your country, it will likely work with a new SIM card, which you can easily purchase in high-street shops or online. The best mobile plans for international travelers in London depend on various factors, like coverage, data allowances, and affordability. When considering mobile plans in the UK, consider the major networks like EE, Three, Vodafone, and O2, which offer different perks and coverage levels. For those looking for a simple and cost-effective mobile plan in London, SIM-only contracts are a popular choice. For those looking for a SIM-only deal, prices start at $5 a month, providing flexibility without a long-term commitment.

SIM-only contracts do not include a new phone but provide data, minutes, and texts for a monthly fee. In London, major providers like Vodafone, Lebara Mobile, and iD Mobile offer competitive SIM-only deals with varying data allowances, contract lengths, and additional perks. Vodafone’s SIM-only plans come with 5G as standard, providing high-speed connectivity where available. They offer both 30-day and 12-month contracts. iD Mobile stands out for its budget-friendly deals, like the 120GB plan for $6 per month for the first three months on a 12-month contract.

10. CAR IINSURANCE:

Choosing a good insurance company is very important as far as asset protection and future security are concerned. In London, there are a number of well known names in the insurance industry who have gained repute for service and customer satisfaction. The eleven best insurance firms in London, United Kingdom, are:

  • Aviva
  • Aon
  • Direct Line Group
  • RSA Insurance
  • AXA Insurance
  • Admirable Group
  • Phoenix Group
  • Beazley
  • Prudential plc
  • Legal and General Group

11. CHILD CARE:

The cost of living in London significantly impacts monthly expenses, including childcare costs. Childminders are a more affordable option than nurseries, with prices varying by location. In London, childcare costs are notably higher, especially in areas like Hammersmith and Fulham. There is a high demand for childcare.

The government introduced the 30-hour expansion to help parents with flexible and affordable childcare. Childminders can be a cost-effective choice for childcare in London. They work from their own homes, offering flexibility and personalized care for your child. Nanny share is another affordable option where two local families share a nanny who works between their houses, caring for all children involved. Additionally, the Childcare Affordability programme, launched in November 2005, supports lower-income families by providing affordable and accessible childcare options.

SAVE YOUR MONEY!

The cost of living in London is high, but you can still manage your budget and enjoy all that London has to offer. Many restaurants and fast-food chains in London offer deals and discounts, especially during off-peak hours or on certain days of the week. For example, Burger King often has promotions and meal deals that can help save money. Look for deals on websites like TheFork, DesignMyNight, OpenTable, FirstTable, and Wowcher. Explore street markets for affordable food options. Use food waste apps like Too Good To Go to get discounted food from cafes and bakeries. If you’re a student, make sure to take advantage of student discounts offered at various restaurants and grocery stores. Many places offer discounts with a valid student ID. London has many free attractions and events, such as museums, parks, and street performances.

Research these options and plan outings around them to save money on entertainment. Take advantage of free WiFi hotspots available at various locations in London, such as Pizza Express, Caffe Nero, Pret-a-Manger, Wagamama, and shopping centers. These spots offer free cloud Wi-Fi that you can connect to without any additional charges. Create a cloud account with your username and password in advance, and log in when you are at a hotspot. Sign up for O2 Wi-Fi, a free internet service available at locations like McDonald’s, Debenhams, Costa Coffee, House of Fraser, and Cafe Rouge. You don’t need to be an O2 customer to access this service, and there is no requirement for passwords. Download the O2 Wi-Fi App to easily find the nearest hotspot, even when offline.

Apps like CheckoutSmart, All Bar One, Ember Inns, Nicholson’s, and TRIYIT offer free drinks or seasonal offers. Loyalty cards from Tesco Clubcard and Revolution bars can earn you points for free alcohol. Use the DUSK app to get free drinks every night of the week by selecting your location and claiming a complimentary drink at local bars. Look for pre-loved clothing at thrift stores, charity shops, and online platforms like Depop and Vinted to find affordable and sustainable fashion options.

This article provided detailed information on mandatory expenses in London, and saving money in London is possible with the above mentioned practical ways that can make a major difference in your budget.

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