How much should you save before moving to London

Money is a touchy subject, but I know how much of a constant brain freeze this was when I moved over so I am going to put it all out there for you guys. As I said in my previous money post, what I write below is just my opinion and of course everyone does London in their own way; if you have your own thoughts and suggestions please leave them in the comments below for everyone to read.

Well, you want to move to London because you saw that Amanda Bynes movie and you have had The Clash stuck in your head each day as you trudge to work. But what do you actually need to save before you come over? Of course it is easier if you have friends over here, because crashing on their couch when you first arrive will save you some serious cash – but as long as you are prepared it will all be ok. I mean, cold and full of people who laugh at you when you say deck, but ok nonetheless.

When you are saving for London the temptation is to go for the best case scenario. Get a job in the first month, start earning pounds and then you can spend your remaining ‘move over’ savings on travel. Well I did the first part of that, but then managed to burn through my savings just surviving. What I hadn’t taken into account is that even if you manage to get the job in the first month (not guaranteed), then a lot of the time the person currently in the role still has a months’ notice to work out. So you don’t even start working for two months. And most annoyingly even once you have started work in most places it will take another month before you get paid. That is best case scenario three months without income.

To add to that shitstorm of no income, if you plan on getting a flat during that first three months you also need to take the bond into account (around 6 weeks rent) plus rent in advance. As well as feeding yourself, buying interview clothes if you didn’t bring any over, losing money when you transfer it from NZ to the UK and having enough money to sightsee a little to stop yourself falling into a vat of depression and anxiety during the job search.

The impossible figure I would recommend is $10,000, which at the current exchange rate works out to be £5,795. You can thank Brexit for that exchange rate, when I moved over I only got £4,900 for the pleasure. That is $10,000 when you leave NZ, so you will need to add your visa ($300-$800 at the moment), flights and leaving party costs on top.

How far will that £5,500ish get you? Let’s break it down like a bad 90’s rapper. The numbers below were my situation, so five years old and completely different to what you may end up doing.

Moving to London budget

*I was meant to stay with my sister for a full month, but we nearly killed each other after a few days so I did the next best thing. I found a short term let (the girl was going traveling for two months) so I could at least be stable while I tried to find a job. I seriously recommend short term lets, they help you get used to London life before you commit to a lease.

**Food is very expensive when you first arrive, you might not have a kitchen to cook from scratch and even if you do you get stuck shopping at the closest shop rather than the cheap ones.

***come on, you just arrived in London. You have to go to a show or a museum or something to prove that you are here, that you did it.

Just with the above you have chewed through half your savings. Want to do a trip or job search takes longer then it gets quite hard. Not impossible, just hard.

Should anything I have written in this post stop you from achieving you dream of living in London? Shiny fucktrumpets no. You just need to be more prepared or have a backup plan. If you can’t even dream of saving $10,000 then just make sure you find a job (even a temporary one) before you come over, or find a cheap form of accommodation for the first month or so. Don’t have a friends couch to crash on? Scour the Kiwis in London Facebook page to find a short term let from day 1. Nothing is impossible, it just pays to be realistic and prepared in case it doesn’t go your way.

How much did you save before moving to London?

Blue skys

I know what you are thinking, what about that Spain trip last year or New York a few weeks ago. So let me clarify, this post is about why I haven’t been able to do any non-parent sponsored travel since I started living in London.

I love travel. It is fun, it busts open your horizons, gives you stories to dine out on for years and helps to re-evaluate/focus on your at home priorities. So why have I not been doing it? Sadly and predictably it comes down to money.

I choose to live in London. By that I don’t mean just exist here temporarily between European flights. I am addicted to this city (with its arty highs and rainy lows) and I try to focus on getting as much out of it as I can. Every spare pound gets scraped together to go to plays, coffee or a train out to zone three to visit a nice garden. This London life is not extravagant by any means (most of my adventures cost under £15), but it is more than I would do if I was trying to save every penny for travel.

The other choice I have made is to live in a nice calm flat in a good area i.e. I pay through the nose in rent and bills. I do this because it increases my daily happiness. If I were just in London to travel I would be living like many other kiwis in a falling apart flat with 6 others in an area described by realtors as “up and coming’. A great way to save money, but rather too much like an extended university holiday for my liking.

The other thing that makes it hard to travel is the annoying fact that I am happily single i.e. I don’t have an automatic accommodation splitter. While I have some frankly awesome friends over here, it is really hard to find a travel buddy for the time/price/type of trip that you want to take.

So that leaves me desperate to jet off somewhere for a week, but without the bank balance to tackle single supplement (seriously, having to pay £400 over a week just because you are travelling alone absolutely sucks). Even if I was just taking a quick jaunt to Paris, the cost of accommodation for one (without hitting up a hostel) is prohibitive.

Sigh, don’t worry this rant is now over. I will go back to loving my every breath in London tomorrow. Who needs the rest of the world when I have 1,583 square kilometres of historic, arty, cultural, sunny, foodie, fighty, crazy London to play in?

(Although if anyone has a solution please shout!)




Coffee is my homeboy. If I had all the money in the world I would be sampling the London indie coffee delights until I was nothing but jitters. However coffee is expensive, way expensive.

A bad flat white in London costs £2ish and a good flat white in London costs £2.40 – £2.60.

So if I buy myself ONE nice coffee a day at work, that works out to £50 a month – £650 a year!!!


That’s the equivalent of a damn good holiday somewhere. So should I think of my one cup a day as a luxury? A habit that I should just give up?

But. But. It just tastes so damn good.


The Milton Keynes Gallery is very popular all of a sudden. I would love to say this is for the art, but I think it has something to do with the £8,000 cheque rumoured to be hidden somewhere in the gallery. Thats right, an £8,000 cheque may or may not be hidden in the gallery, and if you find it you get to keep it.

According to Tomas Georgeson (the artist in question), the myth of the cheque is to increase visitor numbers to the gallery. In that the stunt is quite admirable, because it is without doubt increasing visitor numbers. More importantly, the increase has come from people who would not normally go to a  gallery. In fact I would go as far as to say that this could form a basis for all Government processes. Put all Job Centres at the end of a long corridor of art – it would give a moment of calm hope before the soul crushing reality hit.

I’m not sure what the outcome of this stunt should be. I think in order to be successful (and to gain the trust/belief for further Georgeson escapades) there has to be a cheque. If there never was one, or if it was some sort of artistic ‘I blitzed the cheque into dust and scattered it round the gallery so you could all have some’ it would be unbearably lame.

Potentially the ultimate ending would be the public not finding it, and the artist having a big reveal and donating that amount to an arts charity.

Keep your money safe when travelling

Some people don’t give much thought to keeping their money safe when travelling. Those people are idiots. I have heard enough horror stories to be fairly cautious, so here is my list for keeping those dollars and pounds safe when you are off satisfying that wanderlust.

Divide and conquer

Don’t keep all your money/payment methods in one place, have some in your wallet, some in your luggage and some with your passport and some in a spare sock. That way no matter if you get mugged or if your luggage goes missing on the flight you will always have a way to pay. Extra bonus: once you are home and have totally forgotten where you hid everything you might just find a spare £20 in sock when you are getting ready for work WIN.

Methods in the madness

Have a few methods of payment e.g. credit card, debit card, cash, foreign currency card. I have never bothered  with travellers cheques because this is not the 80’s; I just prefer to take a couple of credit cards or debit cards plus cash. Two cards are important because a familiar story with travellers is a cash machine eating your card, so take two! Often I will just make sure I have my NZ bank card on me as a back up to my UK card (which I use as my main payment method).

Make sure you have enough money

This might seem really dumb, but if you are taking a month long trip for fuck sake make sure you have got enough money to last you to the end. To make it extra simple just take the amount of money you have for the trip and divide by the number of days you will be away – BOOM YOU JUST BUDGETED.

Time to cash in

Depending on what country you are going to it can be a good idea to take a couple of different currencies. Best example of this was when travelling to Egypt; yes they have their own currency but some market traders and tour operators wanted American dollars or English pounds. Also, for the Kiwi’s it is far easier to exchange US dollars or UK pounds for local currency (rather than NZ$) when in a foreign country.

Quick! Hide!

As well as dividing your money, you need to hide it. Some people go for the notes in the rolled up socks method, fine as long as you can remember which bloody socks you put them in. Others put it with electronics or make-up, a bit silly because those would be the first items stolen if someone ransacked your luggage. The best method (entirely created by my Mum) is to hide cash with your tampons. Seriously. Get a normal tampon box, take one out, and replace it with a small roll of notes. It is the last place a thief would look.

Get your ducks in a row

In a dodgy market place the last thing you want to do is get out a wallet with high value notes spilling out. Know where your change is, know where your low value notes are and leave the gold bars at home. NB: if you actually have gold bars lying around please be my friend.

Shout it from the rooftops

Well, not exactly. But if you are intending to use your credit or debit card I highly advise warning your bank. If you all of a sudden start making transactions in multiple countries, your bank may think your card has been stolen and cancel it or block the account.

Anything to add? Tweet me @runawaykiwi


Moving to London is exhausting