Tuesday 19 December 2023

Can you Live in London on 20K per year comfortably?

Dreaming of Living in London on 20k salary per year?
You know that feeling when you visit a new city for the first time, and it just gives you this buzz of energy and excitement that you can't quite explain? That's London for ya. One look at its world-famous red buses cruising past legendary landmarks like Big Ben and the London Eye, and boom - you're hooked. You leave dreaming of what life would be like living in such a fab, cosmopolitan city.

But here’s the kicker - London may dazzle with its sheer grit, diversity and nonstop entertainment, but it comes with a hefty price tag. Behind the postcard-worthy sights lies one of the most expensive cities on the planet to call home.
Fantasies of London living often crash against the hard reality of its steep prices for accommodations, food, transportation and other basic necessities.
So is realising the dream possible on a modest salary? Can you realistically live comfortably in London on a salary of 20,000 GBP annually? It requires some creative budgeting, sacrifice and tempered expectations, but it can be done.

The cost of living in London 
As an economic hub, London attracts floods of professionals chasing high-powered careers, driving up housing demand and prices. Numbeo estimates its overall cost of living rings in at about 48% higher than the UK average. Rent and real estate make up a massive chunk of that figure.
While the average salary in London bobs around 35,500 GBP, experts peg 30,000 GBP as the baseline to live alright. Dip much below in the 20K neighbourhood, and you’ll feel the squeeze.
Keeping up with rising living expenses, the Greater London Authority calculates a London living wage each year. It currently suggests 21,000 GBP as the minimum income to afford the city's cost of living without constantly sweating over bills.
So landing in the 20K bracket already places your salary about a grand below this benchmark. To bridge the gap, you’d likely need a zen attitude around budgeting along with embracing 

London’s lesser-known, more affordable gems.
Adding the expense of raising a family stacks the cards even less in your favor. Childcare, healthcare and all the associated costs take hungry bites out of the household budget. So families would certainly face tougher lifestyle adjustments and tradeoffs to just scrape by.

Creating a reasonable budget
Carefully tracking income and designing a detailed budget highlights priority spending areas when money’s tight. Gotta know where it needs to go before you can start stretching it, right?
Okay, let’s break this down month-by-month. Say you bring home about 1,300 quid each month after taxes. What could that get ya? Here’s a rough breakdown:
Housing should get first dibs since it eats up the biggest bite. You’ll likely need flatmates or a tiny studio far from the prime 'hoods, but doable at 800 pounds or so.
Getting around town every day on the Tube would run you about 150.
Next up, grub! Cooking at home with the occasional cheap takeout splurge, maybe around 200 quid.

Who says you still can’t have fun in this city on a budget? Allow yourself £100 worth of pints at the pub or bargain theatre tickets each month.
Lastly, throw 200 more towards mobile bills, utilities and other essentials, plus stash away a fiver each week into savings just in case.
It’s all about give-and-take when money’s tight. Can’t have caviar dreams on a fish and chips budget! But with a bit of sacrifice, creativity and street smarts, this world-class city can still serve up the thrill of a lifetime.

Where to rent in London on 20K salary yearly. 
In prestigious areas like Kensington and Chelsea, small one bedroom flats easily run over 2,000 ish per month. That’s obviously off the cards.
Instead, look further out in residential zones 2-4. We’re talking areas like Croydon, Barking, Lewisham or Bexley. Here you can find studio and single bedroom rentals from 900-1,200 monthly.
To save even more, find a room in a flatshare with multiple roommates for 600-800. The tradeoff is cramped space and less central locations. But hey, that’s the price you pay for living large on a small budget!
When scrolling online listings, cap your search for studio and one-bed sizes between 400-500 square feet. Anything bigger pushes rates into astronomical zones pretty quick. Also, click “sort low to high” religiously.
Oh, and don’t expect swanky modern finishes or sparkling amenities at this price point. Focus more on function over flash.

Reining in costs extends beyond just housing. Adopting an overall ultra-frugal mindset will serve you well across spending categories. Here are some savvy saving strategies:
  1. Cook simple, economical meals at home as the norm. Resist takeout’s tempting siren call!
  2. Embrace those comfy, speedy Tube carriages. Leave cabs and Ubers for rare special treats.
  3. Hunt down London’s free museums, markets, shows and festivals whenever possible.
  4. Curb impulse shopping splurges that can pile up fast. Scan local classifieds and thrift shops for deals on household items and clothing swaps.
  5. Milk the sharing economy. Rent cars, tools and household items from neighbours.
  6. Barter services with friends with complementary skills - pet sitting, tutoring, repair help etc.
  7. Squeeze in side gigs like ride-share driving for supplemental income.
The bottom line
Sure, London might stretch your salary to its limits. But determined souls on a mission often thrive best under pressure. By embracing sacrifice as a game and pursuing this world-class city on your own scrappy terms, victories both large and small await. Your visionary London chapter filled with grit, zeal and plenty of magic can unfold, if you want it badly enough.


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