Can you live the London life on a budget? Why not…

EveryIMG_5687 time I travel home from uni, I have to venture up to London, before I then head back down to the south. It may just be a part of my route home, but one day (in the very near future, pretty please), I want it to actually be my home. I love it. I’m obsessed with wanting to live that London life; busy, hectic, eventful. I know it doesn’t sound all that relaxing, but your 20s aren’t a time for slowing down, they’re when you’re just getting started. I know London is exactly where I want to be after I graduate. Fairwell uni bubble, the capital is calling!

My love of London means I’ve spent a fair amount of time roaming the streets, but when you’re a student, and money is not your best friend, London starts alarm bells ringing. Fear not, my fretful friends, I’ve got a few tips up my savvy student sleeves.

Note: This isn’t the way to live every day, let’s not be frivolous now, but for those odd days off, here’s how to reign in the spending.

Musicals mean money.

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Theatre Old Drury Lane

From previous posts, you may be aware that I do love a good musical, and that they don’t come cheap. Before, I’ve suggested turning up at Leicester Square and grabbing whatever cut price tickets you can get. If you want to get more for your money, then here’s another suggestion. The last few times I have been to the theatre, I have purchased mid-range or low-range tickets, right near the back, where my fear of heights suddenly manifests itself, only to be upgraded to better, higher priced seats. I’m not saying this is a dead cert, but it is always worth inquiring on the day what the situation is. To make it even more likely, pick a mid-week matinee performance which is always less popular, because let’s face it, everyone else is busy working away while we’re off gallivanting to the theatre like cultured students. Just think: the less people who go, the more likely you’re all going to be shuffled up into the swanky seats. Winning.

Photo by Byron Hamburgers

I sat there! Photo by Byron Hamburgers

Eat on the cheap.

Even if you’re not off to see a show or a musical, go and pretend you are. The restaurants around the theatre district, close to Covent Garden, are surprisingly cheap. But isn’t Covent Garden a tourist money trap, I hear you say? Not necessarily. Pre-show menus are everywhere! Two courses for £9.95, drink included. Yes please. I know, I was surprised too. From lunchtime to around six, every restaurant around is touting for your business. There’s so many to choose from, they have to lure you in somehow, and if you’re as conscious of money as every other student, this is the way to do it. And when it’s a set menu, there’ll always be the crowd pleasers on there, so you’re sure to find something you like.

Hang around at Happy Hour.

On my last trip to London, I was celebrating a close friends’ 21st, so I wanted to do something extra fancy. Following our extremely cultured theatre trip (to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory … (at the Theatre Old Drury Lane)), and a cheap but scrumptious after show meal, the next step was obvious: cocktails. And if you get your timing right, finish dinner just as Happy Hour begins. Two doors down from Byron Hamburgers (go there!), is Be at One, a small bar where Happy Hour lasts three hours.

Photo by thecocktailcard.co.uk

Photo by thecocktailcard.co.uk

It’s trendy (I’m not sure that word is cool anymore), and it’s got a great atmosphere; maybe because everyone has finished work for the day, or they’ve just had one too many cocktails. Ah, that London life. After work cocktails in Covent Garden? See you there one day. The bar staff were extremely welcoming and incredibly skilled at what they do. I don’t know whether measurements are stronger in London, but wow, you get a lot for your money. Cheap, lethal pre drinks before heading back for a night out at uni sorted. You’re welcome.

So, there you have it. It’s very simple, but it’s all about timing: when to eat, when to drink, when to book tickets. We also managed to minimise travel costs and time wasted on the tube by staying in one neat contain area. The theatre, restaurant and bar were all within metres of one another. Maybe you don’t get to see as much, but you get to make the most of your time and try out a few new places you maybe wouldn’t have thought of going before.

And, remember, when in doubt; wave your student card around. You’d be surprised how many places accept student discount.

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The 6 Housemates You Love to Hate

 

The Second Year Home

The Second Year Home

Student living isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. That feeling of freedom quickly turns into dread when you realise you have to do this thing called cooking every day. And what’s washing? That sounds like a lot of effort. But for many, of all the trials and tribulations we students wrestle with every day, it seems there’s one that outdoes them all. That one person that you once wanted to spend every minute of the day with, has become the one you spend every minute of the day trying to avoid: Your so-called friend has become your housemate from hell.

Here are a few examples you might just recognise:

1) The one who borrows money from you and just hopes you’ll forget about it.

We’re students. Our student loan is all we have, so borrow some of it and you’re borrowing part of our souls. Don’t pay us back and we will hunt you down. No exaggeration.

2) The one who smells weird.

They’ll spend the longest in the shower and use all the hot water, yet still emerge looking grubby and smelling worse than when they went in. What even is that? Body odour or gone off milk? Meanwhile, the bath is covered in a thick layer of grime. Maybe I’ll give that shower a miss. I’ll just dab cold water on my face instead…

I’ll do it in a minute…

3) The one who never does any washing up.

That mountain of mouldy dishes will start growing life forms before someone thinks about edging it towards that waterfall of cleanliness that falls from the tap.

God forbid anyone have any cutlery or plates or utensils to cook with. Not even a passive aggressive note will sort this one out.

It’s odd how quickly you adjust to eating your dinner out of a bowl with any form of cutlery available. May I suggest trying a steak knife and a chopstick for a ‘bowl’ of beans on toast. It’s an experience to say the least.

Back away from my food!

4) The one who thinks it’s okay to eat all your food.

“Oh sorry, I thought that really expensive piece of steak was mine” or “Oh I thought you bought that bottle of French wine for me, oops”.

Cleaning products? What the hell are they?

5) The one who never does any cleaning.

And my Mum thought I was messy! Apparently (or so I’ve heard) some guys think they’re best off living with girls because they’ll have someone ‘to clean up after them’. Nope. Don’t think you’ve got that right. Try again. But rest assured, if they do have an out of body experience and start tidying away all their endless shit, they’ll decide to do it at 2am, the day before an exam, when you’re trying to sleep.

6) The one who plays ridiculously loud music at the most inconsiderate times of the day.

Your music is rubbish and nobody wants to hear it. I will send you passive aggressive texts to get you to turn it down and you will not like it. Deal with it.

I think I can see a plate in there somewhere…

Sound familiar to anyone?

If it doesn’t and you’ve managed to avoid these housemate horrors, I applaud you for navigating the mind field of student living successfully and reaching housemate heaven.

But take a minute and feel for those of us who have that one housemate who manages to encompass every types of housemate. How? I do not know but, somehow, they make it possible for you to hate them 6 times over.