living in London Part 1: Cost of Living

I have been thinking about writing this post for a long time.  I wanted it to be a part of a larger post about how to actually move to London, but that is a massive can of worms to open and best dealt with in a few blog posts. 

Part 1: Cost of Living
Part 2: Housing
Part 3: Actually, for real, like totally, doing it
Part 4: some sort of summary I haven’t thought of yet 

About a million and a half people have asked me how on earth can one can afford to live in London. I’m not saying it is easy, and everyone’s situation is different, but if it helps here are my observations:

1. STOP CONVERTING £ TO $
If you are going to live in London you have to live in pounds. You have to commit to spending (and hopefully making) pounds. When I first moved here I set up a ratio that I was happy with and used that as a budget rather than actual amounts.

Salary:Rent
Money left over after rent:Food
Money left over after rent and food:Travel
Money left over after rent and food and travel:Clothes (duh) 
etc…  

Also most people think the pound is something like 3:1 – it’s not. The financial crash happened over here too and is actually still happening in a pretty bad way. The pound is now worth $1.60 (Canadian dollars duh) so let’s get that straight.  

2. RENT IS HIGH BUT SO ARE SALARIES
Coming from a place like Vancouver where a lot of people spent upwards of 60-70% of their salary on rent, I wasn’t at all shocked about the prices of property in London. I was actually positively surprised when I saw that the salaries for my positions were much higher than in Vancouver (more companies, more opportunities, higher salaries most of the time). So my cost of living ratio was actually looking better in London!

3. HIGH RENT OR TRANSPORTATION COSTS 
The #1 winge I hear about the cost of living in London is the high rent anywhere central near the city. For me this is simple – I’d rather pay more to live close and walk or bus to the places I go on a daily basis. Yes, rent is less in places like Wimbledon or [insert other places far outside London I don’t know about because I live in Central London] but you will spend a lot on train & tube fares and waste precious hours (and hours and hours) of your day waiting for trains that never come and are overcrowded. 

So, is it worth saving £400/month on rent when you have to spend an extra £200 on transport and commute 3 hours a day? Plus on weekends you always have to catch the last train home or face a £75 cab ride…

It’s a lifestyle choice and remember the cheapest rent option isn’t always so.

4. EATING AND DRINKING (A LOT)
Going out is a mandatory part of life in London. So yes, your cost of living will have to include regular purchases of rounds at the pub and tickets to shows. Rather than avoid them keep an eye out for deals on Time Out, Groupon UK and Last Minute.  You probably aren’t going to get any deals for the pubs, but if you are a girl you will have rounds bought for you more often than you have to buy them… so there’s that.

5. MARRY WELL
From Kate to Duchess of Cambridge. Enough said. 

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