Moving to London in a week (study abroad)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by sou1 so1di3r, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. sou1 so1di3r macrumors 6502a

    sou1 so1di3r

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #1
    Hello all,

    I'm leaving next week to study in London for 2 months for school. I know there are a lot of users here from London so I am just looking for some general advice for an American to help fit in and what exactly I should be doing.

    I also am trying to figure out how much spending money I should plan on dropping per week (rough guess?).

    I was thinking $100 a week for groceries/transportation... but that converts to only about £60 a week and idk if that is enough.

    I'll be living in Kensington, and trying to cook most of my meals at home to save money. Probably not having to travel A LOT but just for sightseeing, tourism, and other BS. But our professor e-mailed us a few days ago telling us the route to make it to our flats from heathrow, and he mentioned it would be £19 for a bus to paddington stations and another £18 for a cab to my flat. So if that is any indication, I'm grossly underestimating my expenses.

    So any advice, tips, etc from fellow Londoner's?

    Thanks!:D
     
  2. Azmontana macrumors regular

    Azmontana

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    #2
    £60 could probably feed you for two weeks depending on what you buy or maybe more. Transportation is quite expensive, if you live near campus i'd suggest either walking or biking, you'll save a fortune.
     
  3. anjinha macrumors 604

    anjinha

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #3
    Do you have a lot of luggage? You can take the subway from Heathrow, that comes out to much cheaper. If you do, get an Oyster card.
     
  4. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #4
    Don't take a cab (or as they are called here a Taxi). They are way too expensive.

    Use the route planner at TFL to work out a route from Paddington (or even Heathrow). You'll want to get a Oyster card and look into whether travel cards or pay as you go works out cheapest.
     
  5. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #5

    As an occasional traveler to London I've found that if you're trying to save on misc. expenses, take the underground from Heathrow. It's going to be cheaper than the bus to Paddington.
     
  6. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #6
    The tube fare from Heathrow to Kensington High street or south Ken is £5,look at a map to see which station is closest to your digs.You'll probably blow more money than you need to in the first few days but you'll soon figure out where to go for cheapish food etc,best way to get around London (IMO ) is to walk.
     
  7. 184550 Guest

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    #7
    First off, Congrats. I did a semester in London and had an absolute blast.

    However, I spent £60 every three or four days. That included two or three meals a day, drinks, incidentals, weekend excursions, etc...

    As for airport transportation, I used Dot2Dot, however they seem to have shuttered up. Perhaps check out that link to SkyShuttle? As I recall, Dot2Dot transferred me from Heathrow to my exact address for £20.

    Also, try to walk everywhere you can. I saw so much of the city/ came across so many neat places that way.
     
  8. sou1 so1di3r thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sou1 so1di3r

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #8
    Thanks a lot for the responses. And yeah I'm sure I'll be spending a lot more at pubs and stuff. Sounds like I should try to take the underground as well so I'll look into it.

    There aren't any places that rent out bikes are there?
     
  9. yorkshire macrumors 6502a

    yorkshire

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #9
    Boris Bikes!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Bikes
     
  10. borisiii macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
    #10
    Travelling between Heathrow and Kensington: take the Piccadilly Line (underground). Buy an Oyster Card (pre-paid card that you load with money and use on all London buses, trains and tube) and it will be much cheaper. It costs £5 but will pay for itself after just two or three journeys. After 09:30 on weekdays and at weekends it costs £2.70 - you can get to almost anywhere in london by tube from Heathrow in 45 minutes, and it won't cost more than £2.70 per journey or £8 per day, although it's around double that if you are travelling at peak times, 07:00-09:30 on weekdays. If you need to get to Paddington from Heathrow as quickly as possible, take a Heathrow Connect. It's five minutes slower than the Heathrow Express but it is about a quarter the price.

    Bear in mind that Kensington is one of the most expensive areas of London. My experience of living there as a student is that the price of food and other general expenses (but excluding rent, utilities and travel) is £10-15 per day.

    London has a cycle hire scheme - register online to get a key, then you can make unlimited journeys of less than 30 minutes for £1 per day. Charges start to rack up if you take it for more than 30 minutes, so if you need the bike for longer just return it to a station and take it out again and the timer is reset. Depending on where exactly you are staying, this may not be useful since the cycle hire scheme only covers some of Kensington. Google 'boris bikes' for more information.

    Where are you going to be studying btw? Since it is Kensington I am guessing Imperial?
     
  11. sou1 so1di3r thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sou1 so1di3r

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #11
    I'm not really sure, my school is a small private college and I don't think we are "affiliated" with a college in London like must study abroad programs are. I just know we are staying in Kensington and the actual housing is from a place called "Mansion Student". We are bringing a few of our own professors with to teach classes and then studying with 1 british professor I believe.

    I wish I knew more, I feel like I'm just going to arrive and then try to get to where I need to be and then I will finally figure **** out. I'm so confused/excited!:confused::D
     
  12. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #12
    You can save some money and just study broads here.:p
     
  13. sou1 so1di3r thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sou1 so1di3r

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
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    Denver, CO
    #13
    :D:D I got that from my co-workers many times already haha
     
  14. firestarter, Aug 23, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011

    firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #14
    You'll have a great time here I'm sure!

    If you're not cooking for yourself then I'd budget around £20 a day for food and travel.

    A single journey around town costs £1.90 on the tube, or £1.30 on the bus. It's easy to walk into the centre of town from Kensington (20 to 30 mins) and the bus services are really good, so use them if you're feeling lazy and want to get around quickly. Since buses are cheaper, they're probably your best choice once you're here. Don't use public transport in the very centre though - it's easy to walk around and you'll get a much better idea of the place that way.

    You need to get one of these stored-value Oyster cards, since they make the travel fares a lot cheaper (a single trip on the tube without one is £4, not £1.90!!). You can get the small cost of the card refunded when you leave.

    If you travel around a lot on one day, the charge on your Oyster will be limited to the cost of a day ticket (£8 if you set out before 9:30am, £6.60 otherwise). If you mostly walk and just use a couple of buses then you shouldn't reach that though.

    Lunch will probably cost £3 or £4. Places like 'Boots' (a chemist shop) do a deal of a sandwich, soda and chocolate/potato chips for around £3.

    Dinner will probably cost £6 or 7 if you eat somewhere cheap. A pint of beer will cost from around £1.90 to £3. Check out Wetherspoon's Pubs. These do really cheap food and beer (the beer is good, the food is as good as you'd expect for that price). They have a deal before 5pm which gets you food and a beer for a low price. Also check out Stockpot restaurants - there are a few of these around London, and they specialise in really cheap home cooking for not much money.

    Make sure you try some of the non-European food around London. Indian food is popular and can be very cheap. Places like Brick Lane in Eastern London has 40+ Indian restaurants on one street - and they compete with each other to give you a good deal.

    If you go out to a better pub, bar or club then your money will start to disappear a lot quicker!

    Have a great time, and keep asking questions in this thread if you need any more help.
     
  15. sou1 so1di3r thread starter macrumors 6502a

    sou1 so1di3r

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2008
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    #15
    Ok, maybe this is a dumb question, but for the underground I need this "Oyster card" right?

    Where do I actually get one of these? Just get it when I arrive at the airport?

    Or do I have to buy in prior to arriving?


    Can I add funds onto it there or does it have to be online?

    Thanks
     
  16. firestarter, Aug 23, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2011

    firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #16
    There's a Tube station at the airport and you can buy an Oyster card there. The card itself is £5, but you can get that back if you hand it in when you leave.

    You can put money onto the card either online, or at a tube station (by queueing up and paying at the kiosk) or at a machine at a tube station. The machines accept credit cards as well as cash (although credit cards require a pin code - I'm not sure how well they work with US cards if yours doesn't).

    If you register the card online (which is easy), you can add cash from there. You can also store season tickets on the card (so a Londoner may have a year-long ticket for the central zone). I have mine set up so that £20 gets automatically added from my credit card whenever my Oyster drops below £5.

    Oyster is a contact-less RFID... I keep mine in my wallet and just wave it over the reader at the tube entry gates or on the bus. Whenever you use it, the gate machine tells you how much money has been taken off, and how much is left.
     
  17. 184550 Guest

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    #17
    No, you don't 'need' an Oyster Card; it's just more convenient than having to buy a flimsy paper travel pass every time you need to go somewhere.

    For instance, my university provided us with monthly travel cards good for use in Zones One and Two. It was easier for me to just pay the difference the two or three times I traveled beyond Zone Two.
     
  18. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #18
    When were you here? In the last couple of years the price of fares based on paper tickets has risen to over double the Oyster equivalent - in order to 'strongly encourage' people to switch. You would pay at least $3.50 more for each and every journey, based on the current £4 vs £1.90 zone 1 prices.

    There's really no good reason to not get an Oyster card, unless you like wasting money.
     
  19. rovex macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    #19
    Christ - if you got the money to be in kensington then money really shouldn't be an issue for anything else! ;)
     
  20. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #20
    The reason I suggested earlier you just buy a single ticket to central London for a fiver is that I assume you'll have luggage and stuff and be stumbling about an unfamiliar airport.Wait until you get to where your staying and have ditched your stuff,then you can go to nearest tube station and sort out an Oyster card which as the others have said is much cheaper.
     
  21. rovex macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    #21
    Lunch will probably cost £3 or £4. Places like 'Boots' (a chemist shop) do a deal of a sandwich, soda and chocolate/potato chips for around £3

    Soda? You say that here?
     
  22. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #22
    We don't say potato chips either!

    I'm translating to Americanese... ;)

    (Actually I do occasionally use 'soda' here. We don't really have an equivalent do we? 'Fizzy drink' seems a bit lame).
     
  23. rovex macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2011
    #23
    Sorry, but this fella needs to learn the Queen's English during his stay in the capital! Don't encourage him to use such words! :)
     
  24. Peterkro macrumors 68020

    Peterkro

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    Aug 17, 2004
    Location:
    Communard de Londres
    #24
    He did stick in chemist shop to sow confusion in the American mind.
     
  25. 184550 Guest

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    #25
    I was in London from January to May of 2009. (FWIW, in late April I had to go out the National Archives two or three times to gather some research materials and, IMO, it wasn't worth getting an Oyster Card since I only had two or three weeks left in London.)

    I never said that the he shouldn't get one, just that he didn't need one. If I was reading this thread without prior knowledge, it would seem to me that one needs an Oyster Card to use the Tube.
     

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