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How much to budget for study abroad in London?

SueCSueC Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
edited March 2011 in Parents Forum
My D will be in London for study abroad in June for about 5 weeks. The cost of her airfare and rooming is included in the program costs. I am wondering how much $$$ she will need for food and general expenses. She plans to get a cell phone there and purchase minutes as she goes along. (She will spend every penny I give her-lol). Anyone have any experience or advice? I want to give her enough to have a good time and experience everything she can in London and the surrounding area. The program is providing transportation/lodging for a weekend in Paris as well. Other than that she plans to stay in London for the whole time.
Post edited by SueC on

Replies to: How much to budget for study abroad in London?

  • larislaris Registered User Posts: 74 Junior Member
    My daughter is currently in London studying abroad this semester. It is more expensive to live there than she ever imagined. Will your daughter be able to cook at all? If she must eat out for most meals this will be her biggest expense. After that, tickets for admission to museums and shows add up quickly. Your best bet is to do some research with your daughter on her expected number of meals out and what sorts of places she wants to visit so she can come up with a reasonable budget. Buying an oyster card is essential for travel on the tube.
  • cbreezecbreeze Registered User Posts: 4,522 Senior Member
    It all depends on your D. Mine spent 10 weeks (grad school) in London and almost broke the bank. She took an extra $6K loan to fund her trip. I paid for her housing in a grad dorm.
    She had an unlocked cell phone and bought a prepaid card to make all her local calls. I think all incoming calls were free. She used Skype to make overseas calls. She took weekend trips to Scotland, Spain, France and ate out for all meals. She also took advantage of London's cultural activities, entertainment and night life. She was in her mid 20s and worked for a few years before going back to grad school.

    London is expensive and the budget is dependent on how much extracurricular activities your daughter wishes to partake.
  • mamommamom Registered User Posts: 3,297 Senior Member
    My neice spent the fall semester in Paris. She traveled just about every weekend to the tune of about $400-500. As others have mentioned figure in the cost of museums and sightseeing in London. Forget about sending packages to her while she is there, I sent my neice one small package and it cost over $30. If you do want to send her stuff buy from Amazon UK or ebay UK and have it delivered to her directly. Skype is the way to go for conversing with her.

    What does the school suggest she budget?
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 64,004 Senior Member
    Our son spent a term in London in 2005. He spent about double his normal spending money as the euro exchange rate dictated. He was very careful about his spending but was still able to take several trips to the countryside in England as well as to Amsterdam, Munich, Vienna, and southern Spain. As with his other terms....he was responsible for earning his own spending money through his part time jobs while here. We did make a small concession and gave him some spending money because he could not work while he was a student in London. I think we put an extra $1000 in his account.

    He did ALL of his cooking with friends. There were several of them who shared meals together which saved a ton of money. Each took responsibility for cooking dinners for the week. Leftovers were for lunch. Cooking for 4 was better than cooking for one, they found...less waste too.

    They also found inexpensive student rates for many types of entertainment (e.g. concerts, movies) were available and they took advantage of those.
  • stradmomstradmom Registered User Posts: 4,673 Senior Member
    D2 spent the fall semester in London. She was delighted to discover that there were plenty of inexpensive international calling plans readily available, but not so happy to discover that food was very high-priced (and no real advantage in the school cafeterias, either). There are relatively inexpensive monthly student transport cards (probably available through the program), which will cut costs significantly.

    Weekend trips to Europe may actually be cheaper than travelling around England. But either one is nice.
  • DebrunsDebruns Registered User Posts: 2,793 Senior Member
    One of my daughter's dream for college was spending a semester in England or Italy with England being top choice. She has been told by her hair stylist who is from there, fellow students from England and others that have studied there, "Great place, WAY too much money". They told her what was mentioned here, learn as much as you can to keep the cost down, don't eat out a lot, etc. but there is no getting around, you will spend more there than in other countries.
    The college she decided to attend also does more year long study abroad sessions, which makes it more of a well thought out decision than before.
  • xiggixiggi Registered User Posts: 25,432 Senior Member
    The short and sweet answer to the OP's question is ... A LOT!

    After a few days in Europe, one starts to view Starbucks as a real bargain. To maintain a modicum of sanity, the best way to look at prices is to simply convert 1 Euro to 1 Pound to 1 USDollar. Not that this conversion works in YOUR real dollars spent, but that is the only way to know what is expensive or not. In a nutshell, assume that everything will 50 percent more expensive in Europe and more than that in London.

    To give an idea on "cheap eats" in London, check a few of the prices here:

    London's best cheap eats - Features - Time Out London
    Judging by the queues out into the street during Chipotle’s first week, Londoners still can’t get enough of burrito bars. The chicken burrito at £6.60 is made with grilled ‘higher welfare’ chicken that’s been marinated in chipotle adobo (a paste made from chipotle chilli).

    That is 11 bucks for a burrito!

    The best way to make the trip a success and avoid a constant stomach ache is to keep it as short as possible. Do not add extra "days" or "weeks" to take advantage of being there. Do not consider "joining up" in Europe but add considerably to the traveler's budget.
  • SoccerGirlNYCSoccerGirlNYC Registered User Posts: 196 Junior Member
    I live and work in London. It is very expensive.

    Some guidance on prices and what to pay for:-

    Travel: Your daughter should get an Oyster card when she arrives. This is a pre paid electronic pass that you 'touch in/out' at the barriers and on buses - much cheaper than cash fares. Still, a one way tube journey in Zone 1 on Oyster: £1.90, bus: £1.30. Where are her dorms and how will she get to classes each day? Walking is one of the best ways to get around the city. She will see a LOT of cyclists, esp in rush hour - do not join them no matter how tempting the 'pay as you go' rental bikes are = almost certain death

    Drinks: glass of wine c. £6.00, pint of beer: £3.50.. drinking is legal for those over 18 so I suspect some drinking will go on. The student union of her university that she is based at (UCL? LSE?) will have much cheaper drinks. Otherwise bars and pubs charge these kinds of amounts - and upwards for more upmarket places...plus cover charges (usually after 11pm £10-£20) for entry to certain bars/clubs

    My advice is that there is LOT of good night life to found away from central London. Its more casual, laid back and just as fun. Lots of young professionals from 22-40 live in places like Clapham, Camden, Fulham, Shoreditch, Hoxton, Islington... there are lots of cool bars and clubs in these neighbourhoods and this is where the real Londoners hang out, especially on a saturday night when no one wants to traipse into town.

    Eating out: see the link above posted by Ziggi for guidance on food options - but generally eating out is expensive, even for 'cheap' eats. There are lots of Pizza Express, Wagamamas (pan-asian), Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Cafe Rouge etc... and most pubs will serve food both during the day and even in the early evenings. These are all cheaper than restaurants. I had lunch today in a pub: burger with fries, lager shandy (half lager, half lemonade - delicious on a sunny day!) = £13

    Books, stationery: will she need to buy these? printer paper: £8, note pads £5, pens etc. Textbooks... a standard high school Economics textbook on WHSmith.co.uk was £27...

    Clothes shopping: Top Shop, Zara, H+M, Primark are all cheap but tempting! Do NOT shop in US stores over here: Anthropologie, Abercrombie and Banana Republic are much more expensive here due to 'pricing strategies' and also the exchange rate

    Museums: some are free! e.g. Natural History Museum
    Theatre/musicals: can be anything from £20 to £60 depending on what you see, at what time, and where you sit...
    Movies: the 'cinema' is expensive especially in central London. Please avoid the cinemas around Leicester Square. The Odeon for example charges £22 for a movie. My local cinema charges me £9....
    Exhibitions: again depends on what is on, I would say £10-20

    If your daughter has a student card she should try and use it where she can for discounts. It may not be applicable if its a US card though. Most students here are automatically members of the National Union of Students (NUS) and their membership card gets them a lot of discounts a variety of places

    I don't know whether she is studying at a London university or as part of a group from the US who are bringing professors etc with them? If the former, then meeting other students and finding out about local gigs and plays and bars and parties and places to eat would be a good idea. They will be much cheaper and probably quite different/interesting... If the latter, then I guess it is one of the problems with those 'ghetto' programs that it will be harder to meet British students and find out where they hang out...

    Hope this helps! I love living here - it's an incredible city - but like I say... it takes money and energy to really enjoy it...
  • rodneyrodney Registered User Posts: 9,406 Senior Member
    also lastminute.com has some restaurant deals that apply throughout the summer....

    D is there now for the semester; and she is literally breaking the bank (and apologizing every time she eats)....but she doesn't know that I budgeted for this a LONG time ago with her college expenses......

    The funny thing is that it is actually cheaper when they travel on the weekends than when they stay in London; even after you add the transportation...
  • SoccerGirlNYCSoccerGirlNYC Registered User Posts: 196 Junior Member
    Just thought of something!

    If your daughter wishes to take day/weekend trips out of London to York, Bath, Edinburgh, Stratford Upon Avon, Salisbury, Brighton etc etc etc then the cheapest train tickets are IN ADVANCE. Do NOT turn up at Kings Cross and ask for a return to York - you will get bludgoened with a ridiculous fare (£100's).

    Suggest your daughter and her friends think about where they might like to go and book immediately the moment they get here - or even before. Nationalrailenquiries.co.uk and thetrainline.com are useful sites.
  • HawkwingsHawkwings Registered User Posts: 1,207 Senior Member
    I'm studying abroad in London this semester. It is quite expensive, as people have pointed out. So far my budget for the semester is around $5000, but I don't travel every weekend and I take advantage of a lot of free stuff. And I try to cook as much as possible. Even then it's going to drain all that by the end of the exam period in June.

    For train tickets, buy a 16-25 railcard, and buy tickets online. You get a third off all fares, and the railcard is only 27 pounds or so, meaning that you can save money from just one long trip or a few short ones.

    Oyster card: if your daughter is going to be living in zone 1 like most people, it costs £1.90 for a one-way trip anywhere in zone 1. There are monthly passes, but when I did the math it's only a good deal if you do a single round-trip tube ride over 19 times a month. I didn't get the pass, I just load money on the Oyster and use that.

    A ton of museums in London are free. Don't go to the ones you have to pay for because the best ones (British museum, science museum, natural history museum, imperial war museum, Tate, etc) are all free.

    Drinks are really expensive in London too. It's 3-4 pounds for a pint, about the same for a mixed drink.

    For calling home, use Skype or Google Voice. Get a pay-as-you-go plan for use in the UK. I use Vodafone and I got their deal where you add ten pounds into your account, and they give you 300 free texts for a month. Nobody ever calls anybody else here, so the free texts plan is great.

    Basically, if you want a budget, try this: Figure out what your budget for a normal semester would be, in dollars, and add ten percent. That number will be the number in pounds that you will need. Then add more money for travel around the UK and Europe. It's an amazing experience you you will definitely pay for it. She should definitely travel around the UK when she can though, as a weekend trip to Cambridge, or Liverpool, or Edinburgh, etc are all amazing.
  • megpmommegpmom Registered User Posts: 3,114 Senior Member
    Yep, London is very expensive. But there are plenty of free/low cost entertainment options. As other posters have mentioned, many of the museums are free. There are great parks for strolls, also strolling the South Bank is fun. If she wants to see a West End show, go to the ticket booth in Leicester Square - you can get last minute tickets for 1/2 price (sometimes less). You can also just show up at the box office 30 min before the show and get reduced price tickets. Restaurants are expensive (and they don't give free refills!) But you can find some great Indian, Thai or Chinese takeaways that aren't too expensive. My kids live on kebabs and curry when we are in London. But surprisingly it's hard to find good fish and chips in the heart of London anymore. And for shopping, go to the flea markets, especially Camden Town. You can easily spend a day wandering without spending a penny. And you can find more unique clothes than in the stores. Warn your D not to purchase too much however. It is enormously expensive to ship anything back to the US, or to add an extra suitcase.
  • SueCSueC Registered User Posts: 27 New Member
    Thanks for all the great advice. My D will be doing an internship in the fashion industry. She will be staying in a flat with 6 other girls. I will encourage her to eat most meals in. Since she likes to eat healthy anyways she probably won't want to eat out every day. Since she loves fashion and clothes in general I am certain she will be doing a lot of shopping...lol... I was planning on giving her $3,000 which I hope will cover everything but I might give her less and see how she does. I can always transfer more...
  • teachandmomteachandmom Registered User Posts: 1,244 Senior Member
    Have your daughter buy one of the travel guides. She can look up the locations of food markets in just about every little town she might find herself in as she travels. She can buy bread, cheese, and fruit and have wonderfully inexpensive lunches as she travels on weekends. Breakfast can be fairly inexpensive, and if she prepares dinners at home, she can also watch her budget. As she travels, as others have said, the pubs offer good food for dinner that is usually less expensive than the "tourist" restaurants. I traveled all over GB for three weeks many, many years ago, and while the rest of our tour group ran out of money dining at restaurants, my friend and I still had money left because we learned to find the local markets and pubs!
  • HawkwingsHawkwings Registered User Posts: 1,207 Senior Member
    You don't need to have a travel guide to find the markets in little towns. Just go to the center of town and find the tents. Or strike up a conversation with a local. A lot of them will be headed to the market (or coming back from it) if it's the weekend anyways. Just be aware that it's not always the cheapest option, though the quality is usually better than in stores.
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