Renting in London: what a WOW | London on £25k

I’d heard a million times over that the cost of renting in London is outrageous, crazy, ridiculous etc. etc. And having done my research, I found that the rumours were in fact true. In comparison to rent in my small-ish northern home city, the prices were staggering and unsurprisingly it was one of the reasons I set my minimum salary expectations at £25k.

I’d had a look at rent prices before, just out of curiosity but as soon as I found out I would be moving to London, I spent an obscene amount of time on SpareRoom and Right Move just trying to navigate the rental marketplace of the capital city. What I gathered was that not only did prices vary from £500 to £1000 for a room – I know – but the quality of the rooms varied too. However, there wasn’t much consistency, the most expensive rooms weren’t always of the highest standard. You could pay the same amount of money to live in the basement of a warehouse as you could to live in a modern, new-build flat. The former isn’t really my aesthetic but maybe that’s what you’re paying for in warehouse rentals(?!).

By the time I arrived in London, I had an idea of what I wanted out of my London pad (bedroom):

  • double
  • no more than £850 (including bills) per month (for the perfect place)
  • zones 1-3
  • ensuite
  • no more than 2 housemates

Admittedly, after spending three months browsing and sifting, I got picky. But the way I saw it, this is where I will be spending a lot of my time, the place I want to want to come back to at the end of a working day. My last house-share was during my undergraduate degree in Manchester. A nine-man house that was old, smelly, falling apart and cheap as chips. After which I stayed in a comfortable room, in my family house. There was really no way I was going to stay somewhere I didn’t like again and that came at a price.

I was fortunate enough to have somewhere to stay when I arrived to London before I secured a place. By the time I eventually got round to finding a room, having been in London for about 6 weeks, my reality was more:

  • rent: £790 pcm + bills: £67.50 pcm + quarterly bills £47.52
  • double, ensuite
  • zone 2
  • 2 flatmates
  • warm without heating (which is something I never knew I needed but it has been a huge bonus so far)

So it was a bit of an expectations-versus-reality situation. I’m paying a lot more than what I would have liked but I have everything I was looking for. My place literally ticks all the boxes and then some, so for that reason I was happy to pay more.

From my monthly salary which is around £1,700 after tax, the flat eats up over half. It’s the price I pay to be happy, safe, close to central London and to me it’s worth it. Wow, right?

Saying Yes to the Job | London on £25k

Earlier this year as my contract at work reached its mid-way point, I was given two, amazing offers – to extend my contract and remain in my role for another year or take up a similar role in London for a year. After much deliberation, I chose the latter. London has always been a place I’ve loved and having visited almost yearly for a lot of my childhood, I decided long ago that I would like to live there one day. Obviously, as I got older, I understood how expensive the capital was but that didn’t seem to deter me. So there I was, presented with an opportunity to move and although on paper it would have been the easiest decision, I had to seriously think about whether I really wanted to move and if I could feasibly do so.

I had been living at home for nearly two years post-graduation and I loved it, I loved my space, being close my family and enjoyed my home city a lot. Naturally, I got very comfortable and actually the thought of moving was a lot scarier than I expected it to be. My main concerns were, whether I would enjoy the job, and whether I would enjoy London. In the end, my decision was made once I realised if I wanted to give London a proper go, my opportunity had arrived. It was definitely a case of London > job. The one condition I did have though, was that I would not leave for a job that paid any less than £25k. When it came to money it was more a case of job > London. Some people thought that was too much to ask and others thought it was completely justified if not a little modest.

I chose 25 because I had an idea of how much rent would be which is where most of my salary would go and ultimately, I wanted to try out London without having to worry too much about money. I wanted to go in the hope that I would enjoy it so much I could to stay there long term. The city has so, so much to offer and I did not plan to work 24/7. I would long to attend events, gigs, exhibitions, shows and shops that simply weren’t where I was, I stayed jealous of Londoners that had access to all these cool things. I refused to move if money was going to be an issue. I was fortunate enough to have a choice, I could have stayed in my home city and been content so if I was going to go then, for me, it didn’t make sense to go there and not be able to enjoy it.

So, it was a yes to the job and a YES to London. Then I had about 3 months to start preparing, which in hindsight was something I appreciated a lot. I wasn’t uprooted immediately, I had time to come to terms with the move and also start planning everything and that’s exactly what I did. I revisited some research via SpareRoom on London rental prices and made sure I knew roughly what my outgoing expenses were going to be. I spent some time on the TFL website looking through daily, weekly, monthly and yearly transport costs. It was an eyewateringly shocking experience, to say the least. Literally double if not triple the amount I would pay for the same things in my home city. To get my head around the insane costs, I would sit and calculate how much I would need spend each month, rent, travel, phone bill, groceries etc. etc. at least once a week. I worked out it would be roughly £800-1000 a month. Gross, I know, but it’s the capital city and I figured it is what it is and accepted it from there.

I’m in my early twenties, without any huge responsibilities and so I was prepared to move to one of the most expensive cities in the world even if that meant potentially no savings for a year. Some people may see it as a wasted year, financially, and in that sense, it would have been more sensible to stay put, but I saw it as a chance to move to a big city and see where it would take me. In short, YOLO, as the kids would say/did say(?).

London on £25k

I want to continue documenting my time here in London but in this little series I also want contribute to the current conversation on money. Besides being far too interested in other people’s lives, their money and how they spend and save it, I also think it’s helpful to see different money management styles. Especially as a young adult trying to navigate bills and still holding out hope of one day buying a house in the not-so-distant future.

I don’t fully understand why people hate talking about money so much but if nothing, opening up about my own will allow me to take a magnifying glass to how I spend and maybe if I see how much of my money goes to ASOS I’ll stop shopping there? We can hope.

For some context, I come from a working-class background and spent a year working in a graduate role before moving to London. I got paid a decent salary of around £20k and spent that year living at home, with very few outgoing expenses. In theory I should have saved a lot and I could have done, was it not for a love of clothes and shoes, oops. I had big, big plans but in the end saved £2,000.

Coming from a small-ish city in the north I knew how expensive London was before I got here. I told myself I wouldn’t move down unless I managed to secure a job that paid a minimum of £25k. I have always wanted to give the big city a go but I didn’t want to live pay check to pay check unnecessarily. I could’ve happily stayed in my home city where public transport was cheap and rent could have been non-existent. But instead I chose to move to London having got a job with the exact salary I wanted and committed myself to paying about £300 for transport and then almost 3 times that for rent. More on that later.

*I appreciate people live in London on a lot less than £25k and live well, this is just the figure I wanted and what I, personally felt comfortable with.*

Anyway I plan on writing all about how I live in London as a 24 year old girl. Tune in if you’re looking to move to London too or if like me, you’re just a nosy Parker, no judgement here folks.

London Lessons: #1 Crying Happy

I’m crying because I’m scared, because I don’t want to leave the comfort of my home, my room, my life as I have known since I was a child.

I’m crying because I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision, whether trying something new was really what I wanted to do.

But amongst all this, I’m happy.

I’m happy to be closer to my boyfriend.

I’m happy to be in big, bad, London.

I’m happy to be ‘progressing’.

It’s going to be a weird time and my emotions are going to be get the better of me but I know I’m in an incredibly fortunate position being able to take the opportunity to be in London and be surrounded by people who love me and want nothing but the best of me. Now it’s up to me to make of this what I want.

Here we go..

She Starts…

For the first time in seventeen long, long years, September is not the start of school or university. I’m definitely glad to have finished formal education but I feel like September will be a kick-start month for me for some years to come and I’m not mad about it. As soon as it came around this year I felt super inspired and motivated. I know it won’t last as long as I’d like so I’m capitalising on it while I can.

This September marks the beginning of my professional career, kind of. I’m starting a ‘proper’ job, whatever that means. I dreamed of being where I’m at now exactly this time last year, unbeknownst of what the year ahead had in store for me. Whilst my peers were starting work and beginning their next chapters, I felt like I had been left behind and it wasn’t for lack of trying. I went through application after application with no real success and it was nothing short of soul crushing. One year on I can safely say that I needed the time. It’s been a good year; I’ve enjoyed my final year of student-hood and I think I’m now ready to ‘adult’ and stuff.

I can only describe my feelings towards my new nine-to-five as near identical to those moving from primary school to secondary school. Everything is new, I get that anxious/ excited feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I think about it and I know it’ll be a restless night on the eve of my first day. Will I make friends? I hope I make friends. I’m sure I’ll make at least one friend.

It’s also the start of me blogging, evidently. For real for real this time. I’ve spent most of my educational career writing; it’s something I’ve always enjoyed and would like to continue but in a less academic capacity and in a more creative one. Like many other twenty-somethings I have no concrete plans, career wise – or anything wise if I’m being truly honest – but I’m very much looking forward to figuring it all out. During this strange trial and error period I am hoping the blog will be an outlet for me, maybe even a journal/diary type situation if I’m brave enough.