If you’re interested in studying abroad in London, check out my updated eBook on everything you need to know!

One of the most worrying aspects of study abroad for many students is the cost. Not only financing the actual study abroad program, but spending money in many countries where the dollar isn’t as strong as the local currency. Students aren’t exactly known for having loaded wallets, but the urge to buy ALL THE THINGS in your host country is strong. Here’s a list of tips for studying abroad in London on a budget, and later this week I’ll be publishing a budget worksheet that gives example prices of food, travel, and entertainment so that you can make the most of your time abroad.

  1. Eating out is a fun way to explore new areas of the city and hang out with your friends, but the prices in London can add up so fast you’ll be broke before you’re done with your hamburger. This isn’t to say ‘don’t eat out,’ but if you’re stuck on cash, buy some bread and peanut butter and make sandwiches or homemade salads for lunch rather than grabbing something from Pret or Starbucks because you were unprepared.
  2. Take advantage of freebies. London is one of the greatest cities in the world for people who enjoy free events, which describes every student ever. There are entire websites dedicated to free things in London, and most of the museums are free and open daily.
  3. My student card expired last month, and suddenly the world has gotten a lot more expensive. But not you! You are still blessed with student discounts, and many shops and experiences in London offer them with a valid ID. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask if it’s not advertised either, as shops won’t always blatantly advertise a way for you to save money. Imagine that.
  4. If you haven’t left yet, bring a notebook or two and some pens and pencils from home for your classes. They won’t break the bank, but school supplies here are more expensive and who needs to spend an extra 5 pounds on paper when you could have spent it on something more fun?
  5. Travel off-peak. Whether you’re traveling on the tube or to another UK city by train, travel off-peak if you can help it. This can save a lot of money, especially on longer journeys, and if you have to leave at 9:49 rather than 9:09, well, you’ll survive.
  6. Check your bank account. Studying abroad always feels a bit like a very long vacation where you’re also somehow forced into taking classes. Unless you’re on a very short exchange program, you’re likely going to be in London for a few months or more. Do not constantly treat your bank account as if it’s in vacation mode. 50p here and 2 pounds there and 20 pounds there (why is the London eye so expensive?!) is going to become a problem if you’re truly on a budget. Don’t spend as if tomorrow is your last day in the country unless tomorrow really IS your last day in the country, and then you have permission to buy that Queen bobblehead you’ve always wanted.