Budgeting for your move to London

This can be one of the more stressful aspects to moving overseas, especially if you’re like me and have lived the good life for a little too long and left all your saving until the last minute!

Due to my (lack of) savings, I have had to put myself on a seriously strict budget leading up to my move.
This includes an impressively in-depth excel spreadsheet summarising my earnings vs. outgoings and projected savings and expenses. I have also been using my iPhone to note down every single dollar that I spend and keep a running budget balance so I know exactly how many more bottles of wine I can afford to buy before the next pay day 😉

I have also put together a list of sources that I expect to get a significant income from over the next couple of months. This includes:

  • Selling car
  • Selling household items & unwanted clothing
  • Annual leave payout from work
  • Rental bond refund
  • Tax Return
  • Savings

Try to put together a list of things that you can sell to generate some extra income, you’ll be surprised with what you come up with!

It is important when planning your expected income to ensure that you always underestimate what you’re expecting to earn. This way you can better plan your savings, and if you do get a little extra than budgeted then this is a lovely bonus!

How much money should you take with you?

I am aiming to take around AUD$8,000 – $10,000 with me to London.
*Update: This was more than enough for me. I spent the most money in the first month – mainly on going out, eating out and enjoying life a little too much. After that, I settled down a little to keep funds aside for rent, deposits, holidays and general savings. I spent probably $5000 in my first 2 months in London, including a holiday to Italy, before I got my first pay cheque from work (they mainly pay monthly here – at the end of the month).

When deciding how much start up money you’ll need, there are a few factors that you need to take into consideration, mainly around the different costs of setting up in a new city and country:

  • Accommodation
    When you first arrive in London, it is likely that you will have to fork out some money on a place to stay, whether that be couch surfing (A.KA. ‘dossing’) at a friends house, or staying at a hostel or hotel until you settle in to a more permanent dwelling. Expect to pay around £5 p/night for couch surfing, around £15-40 p/night for a hostel, or anywhere up to £100 p/night for a decent hotel.
  • Basic Needs
    You will need money for basic items that you probably couldn’t fit in your suitcase such as toiletries, bedding, towels and a bottle of celebratory champagne! I had originally budgeted £50 for this, however bedding alone cost £150 all up (for a good duvet, pillows, sheets, covers, cushions) so in total I would suggest you set aside about £200 for the basics.
  • Unemployment
    If you’re not willing to settle on just ‘any job’ to get you by and you want to wait for the right position to come along, you’ll want at least 2-3 months spending money as back up while you search for the perfect opportunity. This takes some of the pressure off finding something right away, and you can be more picky! We all vary with our lifestyle costs, but I’m aiming to cover the basic rental costs of around £100 p/week plus around £150 p/week spending money. So this totals to about £1600 for eight weeks of unemployment. It’s also worthwhile noting that you will spend a LOT more money when you first get here just on food, travel and shopping, so £100 per week can be quite hard until you settle down a little.
  • Renting
    The general London rental market requires you to pay a month’s rent in advance, and leave an upfront bond equal to 1-2 months rent. This means you should be prepared to pay 3 months rent upfront. Some real estate agencies also charge you an administration fee which is usually around £150-200.
    Once you find a flat to rent, you may be faced with some upfront costs to set up your utilities, internet and phone, pay council taxes and buy any essential household items that you may be missing. This is why I suggest that for your first home, you should move into a share place where all of this is already up and running (and it’s a great way to meet new people too!)
  • Transport
    London has a very superior transport system in comparison to anywhere in Australia. With the overground, underground and bus networks you can always get to where you need to go without a car. The most cost-efficient way of travelling is to purchase an Oyster Card as soon as you arrive. This is much cheaper than the old paper ticketing system, and more efficient too. It costs £5 but if you ever want to hand the card back then the £5 is refundable.
    A one-way trip within Zone 1 on the Oyster card will set you back £2 as apposed to a heftier £4.30 if you’re paying by cash. Click here for a full list of London Transport prices. Your first weeks in London may get expensive as you navigate where the best places to eat and shop are. Transport costs can be high as you house and job hunt, and you’ll want some spending money to keep social too! I suggest you buy a Weekly Zone 1-2 pass on your Oyster Card as it’s much better value if you find yourself travelling each day.

Let’s summarise the costs so we can get a rough indication of the start-up budget.
The following figures are based on what I see as being my worst-case scenario of being unemployed for two months and not finding permanent rental for the first month.

Accommodation £840 (4 weeks at an average hostel at £30p/night)
Basic Needs £200
Spending Money £1200 (spending £150 p/week for 8 weeks)
Rental Bond £1000 (max two months rent at £450p/month plus agency fees)
Rent £450 (one months rent)
Transport £232 (£29 p/week for 8 weeks)
Total £3922 (AUD$6100 approx.)

 

Depending on your lifestyle and preferences, everyone will have a different budget need.

To get a good idea of how much some basic good and services cost in London, check out my London Prices page. Many prices with the Australian exchange rate are very cheap, but keep in mind that average salaries here are also a lower, so it’s all relative.

I updated the figures on this budget after I actually moved to London so this is a great estimation as of Mid-2012. I did however spend a lot more money on shopping and replacing my wardrobe, as well as eating out, than originally planned, however once you get a job and settle in to a routine, it’s much easier to monitor your everyday spending.

LNG
x

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47 Responses

  1. Shannon says:

    I just had a huge meltdown and finding your blog has saved me. Love that you use real numbers and haven’t been vague!!! Im from NZ and going to the UK after 3 months of travelling in Europe, my partner and I leave for Amsterdam July 3rd, we cant wait. But my question for you was, the summary costs you mentioned above are these for just you or were you travelling with someone and they were inclusive?

  2. Christy says:

    Hi,
    Did your move require a Visa? I’d like to move from the US and trying to get a better understaing of the type of Visa i’d need. I don’t have any work secured yet.

    Thanks

    Christy

  3. Courtney says:

    Hello! Loving reading up on all your posts! First person I have found with really relevant budget and relocation advice from Australia! I am looking to move over later this year and was wondering if you have any advice or a post at all about packing! I am at a bit of a loss as I really don’t want to bring a lot with me, but am not sure where to start at all. I notice you mention purchasing homewares and a wardrobe update when you arrive in London…
    I currently live in Brisbane, so the majority of my wardrobe will not be London appropriate!

    • Hey Courtney,
      All really good questions! Packing was one of the more stressful parts of moving especially as I had no family in Melbourne to store my things with, so literally had to take it with me or let it go/sell it.
      If there’s anything you truly LOVE in terms of homewares then consider shipping it across, otherwise things here are SO much cheaper to buy e.g. My Morphy Richards kettle which I paid AUD $130 for I bought for £25 here.
      Same deal with wardrobe, all the High Street shops like TopShop, Zara, H&M, Urban Outfitters etc. will have you covered so just bring the clothes you wear everyday, nothing too summery, and stock up on the rest when you arrive!
      x

  4. Dilan says:

    Hey :),

    Thank you soo much for this blog its been great and I plan to move in November this year.

    You cover soo much and I am really grateful for stumbling across your blog, it has been extremely helpful.

    I was wondering if you have any advice on Exchanging AU to Pound.

    Where did you exchange your money? Do you know where would be the best to do so, well the cheapest?

    Kind Regards,

    Dilan

    P.S I’m a Leo 🙂 haha noticed you mentioned your a Scorpio, I love astrology its my religion.

  5. Dilan says:

    Hey :),

    Thank you soo much for this blog its been great and I plan to move in November this year.

    You cover soo much and I am really grateful for stumbling across your blog, it has been extremely helpful.

    I was wondering if you have any advice on Exchanging AU to Pound.

    Where did you exchange your money? Do you know where would be the best to do so, well the cheapest?

    Kind Regards,

    Dilan

    P.S I’m a Leo 🙂 haha noticed you mentioned your a Scorpio, I love astrology its my religion.

  6. Laura says:

    Do you happen to have a copy of your spreadsheet? I’m hoping to move to London in the next year, and although I can save money, I’m not the best at keeping track of where it’s all going. Thanks!!
    – Laura

  7. Laura says:

    Do you happen to have a copy of your spreadsheet? I’m hoping to move to London in the next year, and although I can save money, I’m not the best at keeping track of where it’s all going. Thanks!!
    – Laura

  8. Erika says:

    This is extremely organized, thank you for your posts!! Lived in London for four months last year, as a live-in au pair, for my cousin, (which was an extreme privilege, as they have a nice home in Highbury).

    Now my best friend and I, both Canadians, are looking to move in semi-permanently come September! I do consider myself quite familiar with lifestyle and costs in London, however I am a bit worrisome about finding work. Any sort of job would be ideal once we get there, however I would like to (sooner or later) ease into something more into my field of interest/expertise. Are you aware of the market for entry level positions? (We’re recent uni graduates) 🙂

    Thanks! x

    • Hey Erika,
      Entry level jobs are a little more competitive but that’s not to say that there aren’t still plenty of them around. September can be a bit more challenging as that’s when everyone goes through the graduation cycle, but if you’re willing to get any job in the beginning then you’ll be fine as you’ll take some of the pressure off from finding the right job straight away.
      Check out my job hunting page where I have listed some good places to look for entry level/grad jobs.
      Twitter is also a good place to look.
      What area do you want to get into? I can keep an eye out for something relevant.
      x

      • Erika says:

        Wicked! Thank you!! My best friend, Anastasia, is looking into Public Relations in entertainment/sport facilities, and myself am looking towards Ergonomics/Occupational Health & Safety! x

  9. Erika says:

    This is extremely organized, thank you for your posts!! Lived in London for four months last year, as a live-in au pair, for my cousin, (which was an extreme privilege, as they have a nice home in Highbury).

    Now my best friend and I, both Canadians, are looking to move in semi-permanently come September! I do consider myself quite familiar with lifestyle and costs in London, however I am a bit worrisome about finding work. Any sort of job would be ideal once we get there, however I would like to (sooner or later) ease into something more into my field of interest/expertise. Are you aware of the market for entry level positions? (We’re recent uni graduates) 🙂

    Thanks! x

    • Hey Erika,
      Entry level jobs are a little more competitive but that’s not to say that there aren’t still plenty of them around. September can be a bit more challenging as that’s when everyone goes through the graduation cycle, but if you’re willing to get any job in the beginning then you’ll be fine as you’ll take some of the pressure off from finding the right job straight away.
      Check out my job hunting page where I have listed some good places to look for entry level/grad jobs.
      Twitter is also a good place to look.
      What area do you want to get into? I can keep an eye out for something relevant.
      x

      • Erika says:

        Wicked! Thank you!! My best friend, Anastasia, is looking into Public Relations in entertainment/sport facilities, and myself am looking towards Ergonomics/Occupational Health & Safety! x

  10. Dani says:

    Just found your blog and so, so happy this exists. I’m from Sydney and planning to make the move to London in August :). This budget post and your pre-departure to-do list is great! It’s reassured me about my budget plans, I’m a little worried since I plan to do a 3-month trip around Europe before settling in London.

    Did it take you long to find a job? And what field do you work in? X

    • Hey Dani, glad you like it! Great news about your move – you must be so excited!
      I too was planning to do some travelling before I settled in London, but then I got worried about my budgets so I decided to settle in first and travel later. If you save enough money though then travelling first is a great way to meet new friends and enjoy the summer.
      I started working after about 6 weeks in London, however it took my bf longer at about 2 months, and a friend of mine even longer at 3-4 months! It also depends on what field you work in I think. I work in social media at a small agency in east London.
      What field of work will you be job hunting in?
      x

  11. Dani says:

    Just found your blog and so, so happy this exists. I’m from Sydney and planning to make the move to London in August :). This budget post and your pre-departure to-do list is great! It’s reassured me about my budget plans, I’m a little worried since I plan to do a 3-month trip around Europe before settling in London.

    Did it take you long to find a job? And what field do you work in? X

    • Hey Dani, glad you like it! Great news about your move – you must be so excited!
      I too was planning to do some travelling before I settled in London, but then I got worried about my budgets so I decided to settle in first and travel later. If you save enough money though then travelling first is a great way to meet new friends and enjoy the summer.
      I started working after about 6 weeks in London, however it took my bf longer at about 2 months, and a friend of mine even longer at 3-4 months! It also depends on what field you work in I think. I work in social media at a small agency in east London.
      What field of work will you be job hunting in?
      x

  12. Hanna says:

    Thank you so much for this! My main priority is to find a job in the UK as soon as I arrive and I really needed advice on how to set out a budget for the first 3 months. I’ve also saved around 9k so this is perfect. I’ve even printed this page out to use for my planning. Thanks again.

  13. Hanna says:

    Thank you so much for this! My main priority is to find a job in the UK as soon as I arrive and I really needed advice on how to set out a budget for the first 3 months. I’ve also saved around 9k so this is perfect. I’ve even printed this page out to use for my planning. Thanks again.

  14. priscillia says:

    I’m expecting to pay around £120-£150 p/week, and will be sharing a room with my boyfriend so that will be £240-300 p/week for the room ..

    so you need to pay 2more for the same room because you share it with your boyfriend ?! that’s crazy .. i’m looking for the moment a place to live in london and i will be living with my boyfriend also .. but i didn’t know that you have to pay 2more for the same room you will be living in with your partner. the point is that you can share the place and pay together so it’s not to expensive.

    How are you doing over there ? x

    • Hi,
      Yes you generally pay more for a couple. I wouldn’t say you pay double what the others pay, but if you’re sharing the kitchen, bathroom, lounge, etc with other people, then technically, you are two people, and you take up more space, therefore I think it’s fair to pay more.
      However, if you have an ensuite, no lounge, then you wouldn’t pay much more than others (unless of course you’re the only one with an ensuite). You just have to look at it as how much of the house you will take up/use.
      It’s still cheaper to share with your partner so don’t stress about it too much. Getting a 1 bed flat is where it gets expensive.
      Check out the websites I told you about and search for couple friendly rooms – it will give you a good indication of what sort of prices you’re looking at.
      x

  15. priscillia says:

    I’m expecting to pay around £120-£150 p/week, and will be sharing a room with my boyfriend so that will be £240-300 p/week for the room ..

    so you need to pay 2more for the same room because you share it with your boyfriend ?! that’s crazy .. i’m looking for the moment a place to live in london and i will be living with my boyfriend also .. but i didn’t know that you have to pay 2more for the same room you will be living in with your partner. the point is that you can share the place and pay together so it’s not to expensive.

    How are you doing over there ? x

    • Hi,
      Yes you generally pay more for a couple. I wouldn’t say you pay double what the others pay, but if you’re sharing the kitchen, bathroom, lounge, etc with other people, then technically, you are two people, and you take up more space, therefore I think it’s fair to pay more.
      However, if you have an ensuite, no lounge, then you wouldn’t pay much more than others (unless of course you’re the only one with an ensuite). You just have to look at it as how much of the house you will take up/use.
      It’s still cheaper to share with your partner so don’t stress about it too much. Getting a 1 bed flat is where it gets expensive.
      Check out the websites I told you about and search for couple friendly rooms – it will give you a good indication of what sort of prices you’re looking at.
      x

  16. marissa says:

    I’m curious about what neighbourhoods you’re looking at with that rental budget. One of the biggest surprises for us when we moved here was how expensive flats were, and that was coming from New York City; We thought we knew what expensive was. A clean, one-bedroom in Central London will run about that per WEEK!

    • At the moment by looking online, the rental prices look quite similar to Melbourne (keep in mind we have a very strong dollar at the moment, and are also the 8th most expensive city to live in, in the world). I’m expecting to pay around £120-£150 p/week, and will be sharing a room with my boyfriend so that will be £240-300 p/week for the room & will be sharing with other house mates, but of course it all depends on what our new salaries will look like. We are looking around Central London or East central (Angel, Islington) so fingers crossed we can find something in our budget!!

  17. marissa says:

    I’m curious about what neighbourhoods you’re looking at with that rental budget. One of the biggest surprises for us when we moved here was how expensive flats were, and that was coming from New York City; We thought we knew what expensive was. A clean, one-bedroom in Central London will run about that per WEEK!

    • At the moment by looking online, the rental prices look quite similar to Melbourne (keep in mind we have a very strong dollar at the moment, and are also the 8th most expensive city to live in, in the world). I’m expecting to pay around £120-£150 p/week, and will be sharing a room with my boyfriend so that will be £240-300 p/week for the room & will be sharing with other house mates, but of course it all depends on what our new salaries will look like. We are looking around Central London or East central (Angel, Islington) so fingers crossed we can find something in our budget!!

  18. Iwona says:

    The London New Girl, I’m impressed with your budgeting skills! Good luck!

  19. Iwona says:

    The London New Girl, I’m impressed with your budgeting skills! Good luck!

  1. April 19, 2012

    […] Melbournians guide to moving to London HomeAbout MePre DepartureBudgetsPre Departure To-Do ListVisas & PassportsOn ArrivalPlaces to StayGetting To […]

  2. April 19, 2012

    […] Melbournians guide to moving to London HomeAbout MePre DepartureBudgetsPre Departure To-Do ListVisas & PassportsOn ArrivalPlaces to StayGetting To […]

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