If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are in the process of weighing up whether or not to move to London. You’re asking yourself, is it worth moving to London? Is it worth the effort or the cost? Is the life experience and career experience worth it? I will give it to you straight- as a Londoner of 7 years, it is worth moving to London.
London offers a life experience like no other when it comes to work, entertainment, relationships (romantic and platonic), travel and things to do.
But this comes with a caveat- personally, I don’t think it’s worth moving to London with a low paid job (less than £30,000). Honestly, this is because it can be very difficult to afford the current cost of living (London rent is no joke!) unless you are able to live with family, or increase your income through other means.
I’ve given you a little truth bomb there because there is no gatekeeping here at Thrifty Londoner. However, I want to explore in greater detail, what you’ll need to weigh up, when you’re deciding whether it’s worth moving to London- whether you’re moving to London from the UK, or further afield. Let’s dive in.
Cost of living in London
The cost of living in London might be the biggest factor in your decision whether to move to London or not. You’ll no doubt be considering both the cost of moving to London and the average cost of living in London. And rightly so. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.
The average rent in London as of August 2023 is £2,109 per month according to research by HomeLet. Of course, rents can be much lower than this, and much higher too!
The amount you pay in rent is influenced by the area you live in, proximity to a tube station, whether you live in a house share, and other factors too such as desirability and amenities.
Based on data from Foxtons estate agents, these areas have some of the most affordable rents in the city:
The high cost of rent is what really ramps up the London cost of living. It’s almost impossible to avoid, and is what makes many people decide against moving to the city. Is the high rent worth it? Oftentimes not. The London rental market is notorious for terrible landlords, lack of space, and not-very-desirable properties.
Our tips? Try living in a flatshare to reduce the costs. The best website to use to find your flatmates is Spareroom. When you live in a flatshare, your rent and bills are still expensive, but are much cheaper than a flat or studio apartment.
Your bills in London will be fairly similar to other areas of the UK. Utility bills will be fairly average, and council tax may even be cheaper than expected, as London has some of the cheapest rates in the UK!
Bills are definitely not a reason not to move to London (other than rent!), as they are roughly the same as other cities throughout the country.
|£34 per month (mine cost £27 in London Borough of Hounslow)
|£98 per month
|£99 per month
|£108 per month (Hammersmith & Fulham). Note- this would also be shared with flatmates if you have them!
|£30-50 per month (this depends on your provider. Check out Plusnet for a £25.99 deal)
|£12-50 per month (but we recommend O2 mobile for great deals from £10 per month, and tons of cool London based perks with O2 Priority!).
Travelling on the London Underground is expensive compared to other transport networks in Europe. The fare that you pay is based on the zones that you travel through, and is more expensive at peak rush hour times during the working week.
That said, it’s still relatively affordable when compared to other costs of living in London. The London transport network is fantastically well connected, which is a huge bonus of living in London. You don’t need a car!
The downside? London is so vast that travel from East to West can take up to an hour. This means that if you work on the opposite side of the city to which you live, you can spend an awful lot of time on a packed tube carriage, and it does upset your work-life balance. Something to consider!
A huge plus point of living in London is the many airports that service the city. You may notice that many flights to Europe from London are cheaper, and you also have the best pick of long-haul flights too. It’s a great base for international travel.
London is also home to the Eurostar, which is another (sometimes) affordable way to visit cities like Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels without having to step foot on a plane. This is very convenient and again offers up more opportunities when it comes to saving money on international travel.
Fun & entertainment
Where to begin? London has a wealth of culture, fun, entertainment and great food. You could entertain yourself with something new every night of the week if you wanted to.
The huge amount of things to do in London – from gigs, to theatre, comedy and culture – makes it hugely worth living in London, even if just for a short while. You can guarantee that if your favourite band is touring? They’ll have a tour date in London. You saw an article online about a cool new bar? You bet it’s opened in London.
London is (arguably) the biggest cultural hotspot in the UK. Chefs, musicians and artists all move to London to try and ‘make it’ in their respective industries. And as a Londoner? It means you get to enjoy their talents!
Budgeting in London
Making your money go further in London can be a bit of an art. Especially if you’re earning an average salary (or less). It may require a little more effort than your friends who are living up north, but you can still make savings here and there. One of the best things you can do as soon as you get to London, is to start a budget and really stick to it.
Speaking from experience, getting into the habit of budgeting when you first arrive in London can be tricky. Something that helped and motivated me was to change my mindset on budgeting.
When I realised that budgeting meant that I could spend more on the things I wanted to (fun experiences!) and less on the things I wasn’t so bothered about (drinking alcohol). A budget can help you plan for expenses, which can be very freeing as a London newcomer.
👀 If you need a helping hand? You can check out the Thrifty Londoner budgeting spreadsheet here:
Working in London
Your career might be the main reason you’re considering moving to London. And with good reason! Many of the world’s biggest companies have an office in London. Many retailers and fashion brands have their head office in London, as do many creative agencies.
You can pretty much guarantee that if you want to move to London for work, your CV is certainly going to be better off for it. The job opportunities and earning potential is unrivalled compared to other UK cities. However, that also means that the job market in London is pretty competitive.
Is it worth moving to London for work? In my experience, yes. Not only for the healthy and expansive job market, but also for the opportunities for networking and mentorship. Even if you don’t plan to live in London forever? That job experience can be pretty invaluable.
The London lifestyle
What is life in London really like for a Londoner? In truth, the expectation from many corporate employers in London is overtime, and a ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality. You may find (in certain industries) that overtime is expected, and that sometimes, you don’t have much of an opportunity to do things outside of work during the week.
Add a long commute? Your work-life balance reduces even further. Be sure to consider your proximity to work and your commute when you move to London to make sure it’s not unreasonable. An hour each way might sound feasible, but once you’ve factored in some changeovers, delays and maintenance work, that commuting time can quickly add up.
Not all industries are doom and gloom, though. With the advent of working from home, your work-life balance may be somewhat improved. If you’re unsure about the working culture in your new office, check out employee reviews on websites such as Glassdoor to see how the company has been reviewed.
And at the weekend? Your time is usually your own. You’ll be sure to soak up the sun in one of the many parks in the summer, and find your favourite local pub for a Sunday roast in the winter.
Things to do in London
Food & drink
There are more than a whopping 20,000 restaurants in London. The choice of restaurants in London is a huge plus point of living in the city. There is a restaurant (or two!) for every taste, dietary requirement and food experience that you can imagine. If you’re a foodie, it’s certainly worth moving to London for the culinary experience!
If you’re looking to save some money on eating meals out (this is Thrifty Londoner, after all!) you should check out LivingSocial. This deals website has a ton of discounts available at great restaurants across London.
Your favourite musician is touring? Of course they’ve got a date in London! If you love music, London is worth moving to, for that reason alone. Not only do you have the opportunities to see artists at the O2 and Wembley, but you can also see up and coming artists, and live music – often for free.
Music is everywhere in London, and you’ll find that no matter which borough you live in, you’ll be able to find a local open mic night, or an up and coming band playing at your local pub. Sure, it’s not quite the same as a city like Nashville or New York, but London still has a thriving music scene that you will love.
The West End is famous for a reason. But you’ll already know that if you’re a theatre buff. There are over 240 theatres in London alone- so you have your choice of regular showings every day, all year round.
Whether you’re into musicals or unusual plays, The West End has it all. It certainly makes it worth moving to London if you love the theatre. This is especially true if you can make the most of Cheap West End tickets on the day at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. If you’re a Londoner, you don’t have to worry about booking in advance!
Free things to do
I am a firm believer that you don’t have to spend lots of money in London to enjoy yourself. That’s mainly down to the fact that London has a huge amount of free things to do.
From free museums and galleries, to free events. There are so many free cultural things to do in London that you’re spoilt for choice. There’s something free for every interest, and every personality. Summertime is a particularly great opportunity to make the most of free things to do (outdoor cinema anyone?), but there are also plenty of things to get involved with during the winter months too.
I like to think that the generous amount of free things to do in London helps to balance out the high rent costs a little bit, and makes living in London more worthwhile. Need more inspiration? Check out our guide to 100 Free Things To Do In London.
Meeting new people in London
Did you know that there are more than 9 million people living in London? This means that finding new friends and making new connections in London is pretty much a sure thing. You just have to put yourself out there!
Making friends in London isn’t difficult when there are tons of clubs, societies, and sports teams that you could join. And if you’re not into sports? You’ll almost definitely meet friends when you live in a house share or start work at a new office.
And if you’re looking to expand your professional network? There are endless possibilities for that also. London is home to hundreds of different corporate and professional events that are perfect for networking.
If you’re seeking new connections, London is the place to do it. It could even be worth moving to London just for the professional and social opportunities!
Pros of living in London
Let’s finish off this post with a short list of pros and cons of living in London so that you can truly decide for yourself if it’s worth it to move to London.
- Great job opportunities
- Good transport network
- Cultural diversity
- Easy and cheap travel to Europe
- Richly historic city
- Great education and healthcare
- Lots of parks and green spaces
- A booming music scene
- Lots of choice for food and drink
- Fantastic theatre and entertainment
- Easy to meet new people and network
- Lots of free things to do
- Family friendly city
Cons of living in London
- Competitive housing market
- High cost of living
- Competitive job market
- Long working hours
- High number of tourists
- Long commutes
- High crime rates compared to the rest of the UK
- Air, light, and noise pollution
- Frequent train delays and cancellations
- Lack of space
- Can be difficult to save money
To answer the question if it’s worth moving to London, I think the answer is yes. The city has so much to offer you, and is totally unique to any other city in the world. In the future you will more than likely look back on your years in London fondly. That said, do be cautious when it comes to the cost of living in London, and make sure your salary could support your lifestyle whilst you live in the capital. Good luck!