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Whatever your motive, whether you are a first jobber or are moving to advance your career, you will love living in the city!

Living and working in the city is expensive.

After you put that first deposit down together with most probably 6 weeks rent, you need to budget for those other expenses that come with living and working in the city. Listed below are 10 things we wish we knew before moving to the city.

1. Househunting

Whether you are sharing a house with friends or need to find a room by yourself. House-hunting is stressful. Demand is so high in London, you will need to go cheque book in hand and prepare to pay on the day. Expect to spend at least a third of your salary on rent. House sharing is the way forward.

Your safety is key so factor this into your choice of location. Don’t get me wrong. I have been mugged in the daytime and you should be on your guard wherever you live. This is London. Just ask around before committing to a place. I remember checking out a flat in South London. I got bad vibes walking through the park by myself in the daytime, so thought why would I put myself through that and walked away.

I had no idea there was a north/sarf divide in London when I moved here. I was staying with a friend in Ealing while I looked for a place of my own; ok when I say that I mean a room to rent in a shared house. Where you decide to live, and whether this is north or south of the river is serious business in London. You need to decide where you are going to sit on this. East/West just adds an additional factor of complications. Go and visit an area of London before you move. Find out what tube line it is on.

Great websites to sign up to spareroom.co.uk, moveflat.com and EasyRoommate

2. Prepare for Pay Day

Waiting to get paid when you first start a job will seem like a LONG month. After paying a house deposit and rent, buying household essentials and of course buying new clothes for work! You will be broke. When you accept your new role. Find out when you will get paid from your HR department. Most jobs will pay at the end of the month; some have cut off points halfway through the month. Make sure you buy your travel cards and budget for essentials and understand when you are due to get paid.

3. Expect to work hard

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the extra two hours a week worked by the average Londoner compared with the average for the UK means that you will at least clock up approx 100 extra hours over the year. That’s around three working weeks.  Many people in London will finish work between 5-7pm. With a daily commute, you probably won’t get home until 7-8pm. You then need to find time to eat. Check your contract – most of you will be expected to work overtime at the company’s discretion. Make sure you don’t go too mad partying during your probation period too!

“for the wage you earn you get worked to the absolute bone!”

4.  Tube etiquette

10 things we wish we knew before moving to the city

5. Oyster Cards

Depending on which zone you live in, whether you travel in by bus or tube, you will need to buy an oyster card. Admittedly I only bought monthly cards. That’s because I used to lose them a lot. If like me, you don’t register them, you will stand to lose money. So register them straight away. Find out your night bus route and the safest way of getting to your new home.


Oyster Daily 

1 Day Travelcard

7 Day Prices

(No Peak / Off-Peak)



Zone 1-2





Zone 1-3





Zone 1-4





Zone 1-5





Zone 1-6





Learn more here about Oyster Cards


Download Transport for London’s maps here.

Tube Map

Draggable Tube map, with integrated station search. Have a look around.

10 things we wish we knew before moving to the city

6. Travel

I always wanted to live near to a tube station, close to a night bus route. You don’t want to be walking around at night on your own. If you live far out of central London, taxis are going to cost more.

Transport for London Journey Planner Simply enter the location where you would like to travel to and from. Let journey planner do the rest.

Overground When you are in London, take time to get around overground. It is easier to walk to certain tube stops e.g. Piccadilly to Leicester Square than it is to change platforms. Sometimes it pays to get over get over ground. It is easier to walk to certain tube stops e.g. Piccadilly to Leicester Square than it is to change platforms. You actually get to see the city too!

Taxis A girl has to look after herself late at night. Despite her budget. Night buses run throughout the evening. However, sometimes after a tipple or two, a taxi may seem your only option. A black cab can help in a time of need but can work out expensive. Whether you are using Hailo/Uber. Just be mindful of the surge charge. I have been stung on many occasion – not great for your budget! Uber’s future is hanging in the balance but as a girl living and working in the city, your safety is of paramount importance.

10 things we wish we knew before moving to the city

7. Commuting during rush hours

Oxford Circus between 5-6pm is a commuting nightmare. I would work late or go for drinks just to avoid rush hour. When it gets too busy they will close the gates just to avoid a massive crush. Learn London’s commuting hub spots and avoid where possible.

“That getting anywhere, even if your work is only a few tube stops away, you have to allow at least 45 minutes”

10 things we wish we knew before moving to the city
West End Live 2016 © Pamela Raith

8. Tourist hotspots 

There will be certain hotspots in London – Oxford Street – Covent Garden – Trafalgar Square, which attract tourists. So if you are going to be living and working in the city. You need to work your way in and around them – not get stuck behind a queue!

Soho, Clapham, Camden, West End are all destinations to have a good night out, but you can have just as much fun in “village London”, e.g. Balham, Tooting, Stoke Newington, East Dulwich, East Finchley. The bar prices are often more reasonable and if the area is local to you, you also can avoid a pricey cab ride home.

10 things we wish we knew before moving to the city

9. Things to do for FREE

“It’s easy to forget how many amazing things there are to do for free in London, from amazing museums (The British Museum, Science Museum, Horniman Museum) to brilliant galleries (Tate Modern, The National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery). Some of the bigger shows need tickets, but you can easily spend a free lazy Sunday just wondering around some of these spaces. Also, it’s such a green city, with the most amazing outdoor spaces, again these are all free. For example, Morden Hall Park is a beautiful National Trust park and it’s on the Northern Line!”

10 things we wish we knew before moving to the city

10. Find cheap ways of having fun

Spend time with friends and get to know your housemates. You spend a lot of time at work in the week, so use your weekends to chill and have fun. Check out our Entertainment section for the latest on what’s going on in London.

“A Sunday Roast with friends in the pub can be incredibly expensive in London with a meal being £15+ and a pint £5+! You can have just as much fun making one at home and inviting everyone round. Sing star an optional extra”


On a Budget

Keep checking our On a Budget section for ways to survive in the city! Whether it’s a fun cheap night out, finding ways to budget and save for a rainy day. Broke Girl in the City is a digi-guide for girls working and living in the city on a budget.