London is expensive. Everyone will tell you so. And it’s doubly expensive when you arrive with a big list of people and places to see. We knew this and were braced for our budget to evaporate in a hail of £4 pints and tube fares. It didn’t. During our month living in London we spent £662.54. You could do it for a lot less.
House-sitting is the key. Most obviously it takes rent out of the equation. It also alters how you spend your evenings. In Eastcote we had a Lurcher who loathed being left, a sizable garden with swimming pool and permission to have friends round. The result? We did most of our socialising around a BBQ in the back garden. A blow to the pub landlords of Eastcote but blessed relief for our wallets. Our spending on drinking out was a surprisingly slimline £90.
The BBQs probably pushed our grocery bill up a bit but we still came in below £50 a week. We’re fairly frugal shoppers but enjoy our food and the odd bottle of wine so you could live for less. As always with UK supermarkets, finding the reduced sections is key to eating well while keeping costs down. House-sitting was a big help here as we bought food on its best before date and put it in the freezer.
It also meant we had well-equipped kitchens – stocked with shelves of cookbooks – from which to knock together our bargain buys. Mel and I both enjoy cooking so took full advantage of the facilities. We ate out a few times over the month but managed to spend less than £100 on meals.
Aside from food the biggest drain on our resources was doing stuff. It’s possible we’ll never spend a month in London again so chose to take full advantage. We went to Lord’s for the test match, the BFI to see Citizen Kane, Kew Gardens, Frightfest and the Paralympics. At £20 a head Lord’s and the Paralympics were the most expensive but great value. If you wanted to do London for less the free galleries and museums would be a big help. We visited the British Museum but that’s only scratching the surface of what’s on offer.
Getting to and from events meant we ran up a £120 tube bill. Once we moved into our Kennington flat travel costs dropped but the twice a week schlep from Eastcote into central London had already taken its toll. Taking a house-sit in the centre of London for the whole month would have cut travel costs but probably hit us in other ways.
So, one-month in London for less than most of its residents spend on rent.
It’s not bad this house-sitting lark.Tags: cost of living, expenses, London