Expenses breakdown for 2 months
Hannah and I lived in London from the 4th January to the 13th March. This is a general breakdown of expenses for 2 people in London for 2 months:
- Apartment: £2,980
- Co-working: £0
- Eating out: £686
- Groceries: £864
- Drinks: £160
- Coffee shops: £220
- Gym: £125
- Transport: £584
Average per day: £85
Average per person per day: £42.5
You can find an exact breakdown on Venture Cost. By the way, I plan to start using Google Sheets starting with my next destination, so be prepared for more categories and charts.
About London's quirks
- the transportation system is great (best in the world?) and can get you anywhere
- you can pay for transportation using your contactless card
- good running spots - Victoria park and the canal were the main ones for me.
- there are a lot of markets and they are fun
- restaurant choice like you have never seen
- cafés chains like Costa and Pret are on every corner, so you can always find an okay wifi
- we enjoyed going to the theatre
- different neighbourhoods have distinct personalities - I often felt that I was in a different city depending where I went
- Hannah signed up to a burlesque class
- everyone accepts card. I forgot about cash during my stay here.
- there is always something to do here so you can never get bored
London is by far the most multi-cultural city that I've been to - here you can find people from every corner of the world. It is also the biggest city I have visited - and it does feels big. I prefer a smaller cities, but each to their own, right?
Yep, it was pretty gray weather...
Transportation is top quality - with the overground, underground and the bus system, you can get you anywhere you need to go. However, be aware that the subway and buses are packed with people, especially during rush hours - a big reason why I opted to work remotely most of the time.
Londoners hustle. Here is a guy working on his laptop in the middle of the canal.
London has a lot of different areas and I did my best to visit as many as I could. By the end of my stay, I think I covered a big chunk of the city. My favourite area (like many others) is Shoreditch - a lot of bars, restaurants, places to work and street art.
Now for some negatives. London is expensive. Unsurprisingly, the most expensive city I have ever been to. I am fine with paying for something if in return I get a high quality of life (like Malaga/Bali). But overall, I think I didn't get a good deal in London - we didn't have a place for ourselves, we didn't stay in the nicest area (even though it's recommended by many Londoners), we couldn't afford to eat out a lot and we didn't do as many exciting things as in our other locations.
It's important to note that London has a problem with homelessness. To put it in perspective, London and Bangkok have similar populations, but London has around 170 000 homeless people (1 in every 52 people), while Bangkok - around 4000 homeless people.
About our place
We couldn't afford to live by ourselves - so we had to get a place with a housemate. This time we used Badi instead of Airbnb, as the prices looked more reasonable. It cost us £1300 per month with bills included.
Several friends recommended us to stay in Dalston, which is part of Hackney. The prices didn't look too bad, so we decided to go for it. It is close to central London and only 2 subway stops away from Shoreditch. However as we found out, Dalston is quite different from Shoreditch. Shady people were hanging around the corner from our place and I'm pretty sure were selling drugs. Dalston as a whole felt relatively unsafe and dirty, but we only figured that out once we moved in.
About the work spots
My company office is in London, so I decided to not sign up to a coworking space during my stay. However, I still ended up working on average 4 days a week remotely. I usually went to my local coffee shops as well as bigger chains such as Pret and Costa.
In Shoreditch, there are 2 hotels (Ace Hotel and The Hoxton) which have their lobbies open to the public to work from - they were basically free coworking spaces. Be warned though - it is quite busy. After I found them, I started going there 2-3 times per week. Check them out, I enjoyed the setup.
About the food
The food in London is expensive, but it is also tasty! Hannah and I started cooking at home since we couldn't afford to eat outside as much as we did in the past.
But whenever we went outside the food excelled. The great thing is that you can find a massive variety of different kitchens around the city. The city is multicultural and so is the food.
Here is me eating a half a meter hotdog in Camden market
Retrospectively, one of my regrets is that I didn't invest more cash in checking out more spots around London.
About the stuff we did
Even though London is supposed to be filled with opportunities to do stuff, we ended up doing less than other destinations. Did we pick the wrong time of the year to visit?
One of the most memorable things was going to the theatre to see Les Miserables and Prince of Egypt.
I was also in the Western and Eastern hemisphere at the same time.
Markets are everywhere in the city and we made sure to visit them when we had the chance.
Hannah and I went to a burlesque show.
Bit of tourism was conducted around the city with George, a friend from university.
I visited the Shard, which is without a doubt one of my favourite spots in the city.
About my productivity
London was a productive place for my full-time job as well as my client work and side projects.
I got into the habit of writing one article per week for both this website and Railsjunior and I'm excited to continue doing that for the foreseeable future.
In terms of exercise, I regularly went out for a run with my colleague in the parks and along the London canals and my gym was less than 1 minute away from my house. I found myself working out 5-6 times per week.
How we scored the city
To expand on the scoring:
- Safety - we didn't have problems, but friend's stories, the news, shady folks and the high crime rate resulted in an unsettling feeling throughout the entire stay.
- Cleanliness - this is highly dependent on the neighbourhood. Some areas were extremely clean, but the area that we stayed in usually had trash on the streets.
- Walkable - London is a massive city so walkability was a challenge, but tubes/busses made it easy to get anywhere you need.
About what's next
There was a plan to go to Bulgaria after we ended our accommodation in London, but just like everyone else, our plans changed due to the coronavirus.
We are now stuck in Reading (England), where we will stay in the near future until we are able to travel, and it is also safe to do so.