City guides: London
Kick it back in the big smoke!
As the nation’s capital, you would expect London to have everything a student looks for in a location. And it does. It’s big, diverse, multicultural, and has more universities than anywhere else in the country. That makes London a prime place to be a student!
We’ve combined our own experiences with those of people we know to bring you this overview of student life in London. We’ll cover living costs for students in London, cheap accommodation and everything you need to know to study in London. Let's dive in.
Universities in London
There are dozens of colleges and universities in London, such as: Imperial College London, City, University of London, Birkbeck, University of London, European School of Economics, Goldsmiths, University, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, King's College London, London Metropolitan University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, London South Bank University, Queen Mary University, Regent's University, Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Art, Royal College of Music, Royal Veterinary College, SOAS, St George's University, The London Institute of Banking and Finance, The London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London and the University of Westminster, to just name a few.
Living costs for students in London
London is an amazing place to be a student, but let’s not hide the fact it can be expensive. Like any national capital, prices are usually higher for everything, from takeaways to taxi rides.
There are ways to live cheaply as a student and our blogs share some of them. One hot tip is to choose cheap accommodation for London students. There are lots of options for saving money on living accommodation, but not all of them will give you somewhere nice to live.
Accommodation costs will be one of your main expenses after paying for your course, so it pays to shop around. Don’t book anything without checking out Sanctuary Students. We have several locations specifically for London students and all bills are included in the rent.
Eating out in London
The one thing you’re not short of as a student in London is choice. Want to eat Thai? No problem. Want to try Puerto Rican food? No worries. Want to experiment with Vietnamese cuisine? You got it!
The standard of most food in the city is surprisingly high. You get the odd low point as you would anywhere, but even if you use high streets or food trucks, you’ll enjoy decent food.
There are good restaurants throughout the city but Chinatown, Brick Lane, Southall, Soho, Islington and anywhere along the river are particular highlights.
Shopping as a student in London
Shopping for groceries as a student in London is the same as anywhere else. All the large supermarket chains have a presence throughout the city. There are also lots of smaller stores, international stores and 24-hour shops to keep you supplied.
Some places we recommend shopping in include Camden market, Spitalfields market, Oxford Street, Westfield Stratford City, Harrods and Knightsbridge, Selfridges and Tottenham Court Road.
Nightlife in London
As a student in London, nightlife is going to be one of the highlights. Whether you’re into board game pubs or all-night dancing, there’s something here for you!
London has some of the most famous clubs in the world, along with traditional pubs, relaxed bars and bistros. Like cheesy tunes and fancy dress? Try Club de Fromage. Prefer indie nights? Try Club NME. Want something different? KOKO and Covent Garden’s Los Locos are ideal.
If you’re more into dancing the night away, the Ministry of Sound and Fabric are a couple of great clubs to try. Add the West End, Soho, the many theatres and cinemas into the mix and you have every opportunity to spend your time very unwisely!
Student accommodation in London
Cheap accommodation in London for students is plentiful, but finding cheap accommodation you would be willing to live in is another matter!
Sanctuary Students are one of many companies that provide cheap places to live in London for students. Yet, we are one of the few that insist on high standards and won’t compromise on things like cleanliness, building maintenance and your security.
We have locations across the city close to SOAS, the London School of Economics, City University and many other leading institutions.
Staying with Sanctuary Students is one way to lower living costs as a student in London. Rent is reasonable and all bills are included. That means one predictable outgoing each month with no hidden extras! Find out more about our student accommodation in London or choose a property below and book a room today.
Top places to visit in London
Depending on how much free time you get during your course, you have a wealth of things to see and do while you’re a student in London.
Some key places we recommend seeing at least once include The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Eye, Tate Modern, Natural History Museum, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Westminster, Camden, London Eye, Soho, Shoreditch, Hampstead Heath, BFI, Baker Street, Brixton Academy, The O2, Brick Lane, Chinatown, Electric Avenue, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Platform 9 ¾, the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and Bond Street.
There are hundreds of other places to visit and things to see and do, but you get the idea.
Getting around London as a student
Getting around London is ridiculously easy. You have planes, trains, taxis and the Tube. You can also cycle or walk too.
London is well served by public transport. It has several very famous railway stations, a Tube network covering most of town and hundreds of buses and taxis covering the entire city. The Tube is the easiest way to get around. It has multiple lines covering the entirety of London and trains run every few minutes at peak times. Not all lines are 24 hours, but some services are.
Some buses are 24/7 while others are from morning until night. There are thousands of red buses across the city which are another good way to get around.
Taxis are also plentiful. The black cab or ‘Hackney carriage’ is ubiquitous in London but can be expensive. They shouldn’t be your everyday transport but can be useful if you miss a train or bus. You also have Uber and the usual ride services too.
The student Oyster card is what you want when living in London. You can use it for the Tube and buses and it’s a simple contactless card you top up when you need to.
Working in London as a student
If you need to work to top up your income while studying, there are plenty of options in the Big Smoke. Most of those options won’t pay very well but some income is better than none. If you want to get out in the world rather than be a remote worker, you’ll find opportunities everywhere.
You could work in a shop, as a cashier in a supermarket, shelf stacker, delivery person for an app or brick-and-mortar store, as waiting staff, museum guide, cleaner and many other jobs.
After Brexit and the pandemic, there are staff shortages across the capital, so finding work should not be a problem if you need it. Your university should have resources to help you find work too, so make sure to use them. Living in London as a student is amazing. It’s full of opportunity, things to see and do, people to meet and a whole new life to experience. While living in a city has its challenges, the pros very much outweigh the cons and we would thoroughly recommend it.
Check out more city guides for all the other cities Sanctuary students reside in and get exploring! Share with us any discoveries you make @sancstudents.
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