London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to study abroad in, with a one way journey on the tube costing £2+, a latte priced at £3 and pints of beer over £4. Besides the already high prices, the exchange rate is not in the dollar’s favor, either (although at the moment, it’s not so bad). Despite the high cost of living, there are plenty of ways that study abroad students can save some cash– and even ways to earn some!
Use your student uni card
Never go anywhere without your umbrella and your student university card. There are loads of discounts for students all over London, from museums and cathedrals, to shopping and traveling.
If you commute to school or work, or just end up spending a lot of money on tube fare, you may be eligible to get 30% off your weekly, monthly or annual tube ticket. You’ll have to pay for the new card, only a £10 processing fee, but it will pay off in the long run if you’re a frequent traveler.
Use that handy new student oyster card to travel around London to all of the free museums, like the V&A, the Museum of Natural History and the Tate Britain. If you come across a museum or cathedral that is not free, like Buckingham Palace or St. Paul’s, make sure to hand over your student card to get the concessions rate. This usually applies to students and senior citizens, but if you’re not sure, just ask!
If you’re a theatre junkie or you just want to take in a show in one of the best cities in the world for productions, then make sure to check out the National Theatre Entry Pass for young people; this can give you access to some of the top shows in the city for only £5, and great seats at that!
National Express has a scheme for young persons who have the travel bug. For £10 you can purchase a coach card that gives you 1/3 of all of your coach fares. This means 33% off everything from a day trip to Brighton, your bus to the airport or a coach to Paris for the weekend.
Sign up for email lists
Getting on the email lists for your favorite companies and stores in London can save you pounds every time you shop. There are websites like UniDays designed specifically for university students looking to save some cash. Sign up and get email offers on the best deals of the week. You could save 20% or more on your purchases at Urban Outfitters, TopShop and Miss Selfridges.
If you love the cinema but hate the crazy price of a ticket, sign up for Show Film First. This UK company organizes preview screenings for audiences in order to generate buzz about upcoming films- and it’s completely free. All they ask you to do after you’ve seen the film is talk about it!
Studying abroad in London is all about appreciating and integrating into the British culture, but it’s also hugely based on traveling. If you want to see Europe, get on the email lists for companies like FlyBe, Ryan Air and Easy Jet. They’ll send you a few emails a week, but they’ll also alert you when a flight to Ireland, for example, is only £14. Worth the few annoying emails every week.
Read next: The Abroad Guide to London’s Markets
Hair and beauty for free
If you’re abroad for an entire semester, you might find yourself with damaged hair and split ends, but not wanting to pay for a haircut. If this is your case, just get your hair cut for free! Most major cities have beauty schools with numerous students who have to cut hair for their final exam. If you’re feeling brave, you can save yourself a lot of cash by having one of the graduating students cut your hair. They usually have different sign up slots for the different types of haircuts going on each day (long, short, layers, pixie) and don’t worry- the teacher is always around to fix up the trim if something goes horribly wrong, but that’s not usually the case.
Anyone interested in trying out a new hair color or having hair extensions put in can typically find those treatments for insanely low prices, as well. London School of Hair and Beauty usually only charges about £20 for a full hair color treatment and only charges for the cost of materials for hair extensions.
There are even ways to make money off of these beauty school students. They need models to sit for them for a few hours at a time. Models get paid £20 for a half day and £30 for a full day from London Hair and Beauty, and you walk away with your makeup done or hair styled.
Other types of discounts in London
There are some deals that are not exclusive to students or under-25’s in London. If you like theatre, never pay full price for a ticket again. Walk around Leicester Square, go to one of those stands plastered with Jersey Boys and Mamma Mia posters and see what kinds of prices you can get on tickets. Make sure you look at the layout of the theatre before you buy, though– if the broker tries to tell you that “Upper Circle” seats in row Z are the best in the house, you’ll know to walk away.
No one enjoys the cost of eating out in London and you should avoid it in the interest of saving money whenever possible. If you have to grab a bite between classes, though, head to Tesco or other markets and see if they have a lunch deal. Tesco has a £3 meal deal which gets you a sandwich, a bag of crisps and a soda. You won’t find a cheaper, but actually pretty filling, meal in all of London.
Having fun in London can cost you a lot of money, but there are definitely ways to cut back without missing out. If you’re studying in London for a few months, the prices can add up quickly, but so can the savings if you know where to look.
Read next: 7 Day Trips to Take While Studying in London