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Walking students image
Photograph: Transport for London

Welcome to London, students!

Recently arrived in the capital? To help you make the most of your time in this amazing city, we asked four London students to share their top tips for living large on a budget

By Rose Johnstone

We get it: moving to a new city can be daunting. And if you’re low on cash, but big on FOMO, then help is at hand! We spoke to four students to get their tips on clever ways to access cut-price fitness classes, theatre tickets, jam-packed days out and lots more. 

Remember: the best way to get around affordably and safely is by Transport for London's public transport network, using its student transport discounts and great off-peak fares. We've outlined all the information you need below to make your transition into London life as simple as possible. 

Remember to check TfL Journey Planner before you travel. 


Nicolo Todde DO NOT REUSE

Nicolo Todde, 20

Studies civil engineering at City University
Lives in Hoxton. Moved to London from Sardinia in 2016

Santander Cycles offer great savings
‘I either walk or use the Santander Cycles. I pay £90 per year and I can use it [as much as I like] for half an hour at a time [at no extra cost]. If you go over, you'll be charged, but you can drop your bike at any Santander point and grab another for another 30 minutes. This is a way I save a lot of money.’

Pay small prices for big theatre
‘I like going to the theatre because I’m an old fashioned boy and I like the West End best. There’s a scheme for students at the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), offering heavily discounted tickets.’

Grace Goslin DO NOT REUSE

Grace Goslin, 20

Studies journalism at Goldsmiths
Lives in New Cross. Moved to London from Basingstoke in 2016

Explore areas outside your comfort zone
‘I take the bus all the way to Streatham, because there’s a golden mile of charity shops. It’s really good. There’s about ten on the high street.’

Enjoy an evening out for nothing
‘I always look out for free gigs. The Shacklewell Arms do good free gigs and The Windmill in Brixton hosts really good no-more-than-a-fiver gigs most days of the week.’

Damian Wasilewski DO NOT REUSE

Damian Wasilewski, 27

Studies Psychology at the University of West London
Lives in Uxbridge. Moved to London from Poland in 2015

Take a break from the hustle and bustle
‘I love visiting new parks and London has lots. London can be quite busy, so sometimes you need to go outside and be close to nature. Richmond Park is my favourite one. Plus it’s free, which is a bonus.’

Seek out your cinema's cheap days
‘We’ve got Watermans here in West London and the tickets are £6 all day on Mondays.’

Isabelle McIndoe DO NOT REUSE

Isabelle McIndoe, 23

Studies dance at Millennium Performing Arts
Lives in Lewisham and grew up in southeast London

Look to the council for cut-price classes
‘I wanted to start a gymnastics class near my house, so I Googled it and found a class for £5 in Southwark. I think they must have funding from the council, so it’s worth looking via your local council.’

Night Tube
Night Tube
Photograph: Transport for London

5 tips on saving money as a student in London

1. Get an 18+ Student Oyster photocard. It gives you 30% off the price of adult-rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes. If you have a 16-25 Railcard, you can add the saving to your 18+ Student Oyster photocard and get further discounts. Get yours today at

2. Travel off-peak. Save money on fares by travelling before 6.30am, between 9.30am and 3.59pm, and after 7pm, plus all day at weekends and bank holidays.

3. Explore Zones 2-6. There are endless hidden gems and colourful neighbourhoods to discover in Zones 2-6 – and fares are lower if you’re not travelling via Zone 1.

4. Remember that public transport is a great way to get home after a night out. TfL’s Night Tube and Overground services run on several lines on Friday and Saturday nights until the early hours of the morning – and the best thing is that fares are off-peak. Night buses also run throughout the week and during weekends.

5. Catch the bus or tram. With the Hopper fare, you can make as many pay as you go journeys are you like within an hour (of first touching in) for just £1.50.


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