How I Saved Up to Move to London | London on £25k

I moved to London in Autumn 2018 having got a job, but I have pretty much always wanted to try out the capital. I’ll also preface this post with the fact that I am – or at least try to be – a very methodical and logical person in everything that I do, especially something as huge as moving from Newcastle, a small-ish city in the north east of England to London, the capital city and one of the most expensive places in the world. I like having time to think things through and make calculated decisions where possible.

The time between getting the job and moving was a huge luxury and something I really valued at the time. It was in May that I found that I would be moving to London to start a job in October. And it was at that point that operation plan and save was a go. Just under four months and counting.

I was in a fortunate position to be living at home and since I had relatively little monthly outgoings I could, in theory, have saved a fair amount. Each month, after tax, I would have a disposable amount of around £1,000 so I could have saved at least £3,000 by September. But in reality, I came to London with £2,000 in my savings account. Where the other thousand pounds went is a mystery to both you and I. Dinners out, birthdays, online shopping, local trips, online shopping…

Part of my saving operation was to prepare for the (huge) cost of living in London. I worked out my maximum budget for the big and important expenses that I would have:

  • monthly travel £170*
  • monthly rent budget of up to £850
  • rent deposit of 6 weeks rent (which is the typical rate in London) of £1,275

*Transport in London could cost anything from £140 (in zone 1-2) a month to £260 (zone 6) a month. But because I hadn’t found a place to live I couldn’t really even guestimate how much I needed.

These were expenses I would need to pay pretty much on the spot, besides travel which could be staggered if needed. And I saved just under enough to cover it, which admittedly did panic me a little initially, but I still had my final monthly income of £1,400 for September from my old job and I would be expecting the slightly increased post-tax wage of £1,700 for October from my new job so I had some cushion.

Once I arrived in London, a week before I started my new job, the hunt for a room to rent did not go as smoothly as I anticipated. And by that I mean I wasn’t able to find somewhere in that week, despite being told a million times that it would be ‘easy’ and that I would find a place ‘super quick’. I ended up living with my boyfriend who kindly let me stay with him, rent-free, for 6 weeks. It wasn’t the plan, but it turned out to be an ideal situation as it allowed me to look for a place I loved and save some more money. I was however, staying in zone 6 (aka barely London) so my transport costs to work, which was in central London Monday to Friday, came to £260 a month which, coming from paying £45 a month in Newcastle, was basically like paying rent.

As I said in my post about renting in London, I ended up paying a bit more for my rent than I planned but I’d like to think operation plan and save allowed me to accommodate this (or should I say accommodate me). Once I found my place, I had to pay:

  • admin fee of £300 (what the ‘admin’ was that justified this fee is beyond me)
  • deposit of £600 (pretty random, but less than the 6 weeks i was expecting)
  • £685 rent (my tenancy didn’t begin at the start of the month, so I saved £105)
  • £62 bills (shared in part with the tenant before me, another saving of £5)

In total, I paid around £1,650 all in the same week for which I covered using a combination of my monthly earnings and some of my savings. So although I had a plan, it didn’t totally work out that way but  it did work in my favour in that I saved more than what I ended up needing to and even managed to save more while I temporarily lived with my boyfriend. I was able to leave £1,000 in my savings, which I was pretty pleased with. Keeping this money in my savings account was something I did on purpose, to incentivise me as I continued to save. I hope to end the year with a lot more than that £1,000, but we’ll see how I get on.

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