Save or Spend: A Week’s Worth of Living in London


Friends, as the city that kicked off the New Year as the most expensive in the world, London is not a cheap place to live in. Or more accurately, survive in.  With the pound growing stronger and the dollar collapsing before our NASDAQ-negligent eyes, it would be naive of you to move here without first doing your research in terms of spending and saving. So as I was walking home from the local grocer a few days ago, I decided it would be worth it for you prospective ex-patriate students to go through my daily diary whilst including each intricate pence I spent filling the pages.

Like a randomly selected rat for a double-blind, I chose to start with this week to give you a seven-day snapshot of my spendings. (See how well my studying/revisions have paid off this week?) Without further ado, My Week In Excessive, Unnecessary Detail:

05/05/2014- Manic Monday

Today was beyond boring. With loads of exam preparation to complete and zero motivation to do so, I opted for staying in my flat (£130 p/w), minimally glancing at my impending articles, nearly completing Season 1 of House of Cards Netflix (£5.99 p/m) and then realizing I had little to no food left to scarf on. At some point, went for a 45 minute run. Went to Lidl (£17) to stock up on groceries. Came home, made lunch, at in bed, watch 2 (…or 3) more episodes of HOC and finally got around to the work I’d been avoiding. Around 2am, fell alseep in my bed.

06/05/2014-Typical Tuesday

A tad bit more productivity today. Ate breakfast (from Lidl) before heading off to meet with my Supervisor (£12,000 annual tuition). Went to the university’s farmer’s market (£9) to get some extra groceries. Head home, pulled out my brand new colorful highlighters (£5) and got to studying. Texted my British buddy Emma begging for some social life. Met up at Costa for some “gentle studying” and a coffee (£2.20). Realized I needed some lady goods, stopped at the pharmacy (£10) to stock up, and walked up. More studying. Way too much more HOC. Slept around 2am again.

07/05/2014 – Wallowing Wednesday

Woke up motivated to not sit in my bed and watch HOC for the ridiculous amounts of time I had the days before. Had a 30 minute run. Went to go get some productive and slightly social studying at Costa (£2.20). Met up with my flatmate to go to an informational meeting about Visas (see above for [astronomical] tuition fees). Got excited about some potential prospects. Came home, ate lunch, studied some more. Got bored, still trying to avoid too much HOC, made cookies (using ingredients contributed by my lovely flatmates!)

08/05/2014 – Thirsty Thursday

Got a wild hair up my butt and decided to dye my hair (£5) and paint my nails. Walked into Uxbridge to meet my Bulgarian bestie and her visiting sis for dinner at Bella Italia (£8.95) and ordered a fish bowl full of wine (£4.95) to calm my studying nerves. Walked home, cooked myself some spaghetti before diving back into my studies. Called it a night. …Okay, a few episodes of HOC, and then called it a night. Dangit.

09/05/2014 – I’m-Getting-Freakin-Old Friday

Sigh. Supposed to do a 3 hour run, settled for 1. Got excited today chopping my own carrot sticks, eating frozen grapes and sipping tea while I worked on my exam revisions. Studying on a Friday night is become routine. Sadly enough, one I’ve begun to thoroughly enjoy. After my last class, I had ordered myself an earring holder (£9.99) as a congratulations-you-made-it-to-the-end-of-the-term-now-please-clean-up-your-room surprise; picked this up at the post, and set it up. Vacuumed. Did laundry. Jammed out to some music (free thanks to Youtube!) and crammed in some studying. Fell asleep. After reaching Season 2.

10/05/2014 – Unsatisfactory Saturday

Studying. House of Cards. Studying. Study breakin’ with my flatmates. House of Cards. House of Cards. Lunch, I think? Studying. Library, checked out books, back home and studying. Sleep. ..Okay, House of Cards, then Sleep.

11/05/2014- Super Lazy Sunday

Decided I couldn’t take it anymore. Made plans to hit Central and go get drinks. 20 minute run. Broke plans. Fixed plans. Decided to do some hardxcore studying (3 hour super cram) to justify plans. Plans broke again. Half-assed another couple hours of studying. House of Cards until the end of time. Somewhere halfway into Season 2, fell asleep.

All in all, the week cost me something around £79. (Doesn’t include tuition/accom.) Bear in mind, this is above average in that my coffee stops, Bella Italia outing and earring holder were all completely unnecessary and frankly were a-typical spending (While I am a severe caffeine addict, I prefer not to eat out, and I usually to impulse-purchase on Amazon.) However, this also does NOT include a Friday-Saturday-Sunday night social life, which I’ve heard some people have. So there you have it! One week’s worth of surviving on a grad school budget.


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