Whichever mode of transport you’re using, it’s hard not to get to London – many of the UK’s motorways lead here, most flights route to one of the city’s five airports and, with ten major mainline stations, it’s not lacking for train lines. With clogged-up roads and the central congestion charge for cars, public transport’s definitely the easiest option though.
London is extremely well served by public transport and can all be accessed via the really rather wonderful Student Oyster Card, which saves 30% off the price of a standard adult ticket. The bus in particular is a great way to get you orientated in London – you’ll learn how close to one another some of the tube stops are, and that nothing is really as far away as it seems. The Underground is quick, reliable and incredibly comprehensive, and the DLR (serving the east of the city) is great fun. The transport map might look daunting at first glance, but give it a week and you’ll feel like a local. And although the capital’s huge, there’s a heck of a lot to be said for walking – much of London’s charm is in moving between the districts and seeing how they collide.
Food and drink
As you’d expect in a city of eight million people, you’ve got some choice here. Pretty much all the choices in the world, actually, from curry in Brick Lane to Chinese food in Camden Lock and a local kebab house at 3am. Chances are wherever you live will have a Tesco, Sainsbury’s Morrisons or Asda, convenient and pretty affordable, and most districts will have a food market of some sort offering up fruit and vegetables and often much more. As for drinking, London’s famous for its pubs – and there isn’t the space here to list the ones you should try. But try them you most certainly should.
Where to shop
Again, London’s not lacking for retail. Oxford Street’s famous, of course, if rammed most days, but will give you your fix of affordable clothing shops like H&M, Peacocks, Primark, TK Maxx and Matalan, and Westfield in Stratford is great for anyone hungering for the mall experience. Spitalfields Market near Liverpool Street is full of quirkier independent fare (and close to Rough Trade, one of the world’s great record stores), and Camden is famed for its alternative scene. Charity shops can offer you a whole host of brand names you probably couldn’t afford before, plus you can feel good knowing your money is going to a worthy cause.
There are no halls of residence at BIMM London, but we do have a whole host of resources available to help you to find accommodation that suits your needs. Probably the first thing to do is decide where you’d like to live – Fulham and West Brompton are closest to the College, but other areas with lots of student accommodation include Clapham, Battersea, Wimbledon and Putney. If you’re looking for a bedsit, studio or flat, your best bet is to visit a letting agency in the area you’d like to live. If it’s a house share you’re after, then check out ads in local newspapers, Gumtree, Loot or even notices placed in local cafes, supermarkets and newsagents. Or else you could try posting what you’re after on the BIMM London Facebook page or associated group.
Private halls of residence are typically quite expensive, but do offer your own space within a shared community of students from different universities, as well as other benefits such as laundry facilities, in-house gyms and social events. Some to check out include Bedstation, iQ London and Pure Highbury.
It may surprise you, but London has in the past been voted as the most cost effective city in the UK for students. With so much choice and competition, if you know where to look, living on a student budget isn’t as hard as it may sound. The cost you pay for weekly accommodation will very much depend on prices in the area you’ve chosen to live, but if we take Fulham as an example, expect to allocate around £130-£210 for a bedsit, £180-£255 for a studio and £200-£330 for a one bedroom flat (bills not included). If you’re keen to houseshare in this area, you’ll probably need to budget somewhere between £150-£220 a week, but don’t forget you’ll most likely be asked for an accommodation deposit to pay upfront which could be as much as £750. Then on top of that allocate around £60 a week for food and utilities, £35 for travel and £50+ for entertainment depending on your likes and budget.
If it’s a bargain you’re after, The National Union of Students (NUS) offers a range of exclusive discounts in restaurants, high street shops such as Topshop and Bench, and online on sites like Spotify, Amazon and Apple. Check out the NUS Extra website and buy yourself a £12 student discount card which will quickly start paying for itself. Or else just get cheeky – it’s always worth asking for a student discount wherever you go, as lots of places will happily accept a Student ID Card. If you’re looking for a cheap haircut, visit the Toni and Guy Academy on New Oxford Street where a trainee hairdresser will glamorise your locks for a very wallet-friendly £5.