Avoid the Heathrow injection

Photo of London pub entrance and fish and chips sign

As scary as it sounds, it doesn’t involve anything sharp. πŸ’‰

“Heathrow injection” was coined by Australian and New Zealand expats to describe rapid weight gain when settling in London. This is largely attributed to a busy schedule and over reliance on convenience food. I’m looking at you, Β£3 meal deal.

Pints in the pub, full English breakfast, fish and chips with mushy peas and Sunday roasts are all enticing British icons, but you don’t need to try them all in one week!

Striking a balance is key. Small, simple changes can lead to a healthy and sustainable lifestyle (and weight).

Walk or cycle

Photo of a girl walking in the park

You’ve no doubt heard about London’s iconic Tube network and red double decker buses, but did you know TfL manages the Capital’s cycle hire scheme? You can hire a Santander Cycle from as little as Β£2. 🚲

As quick as the Tube might go, did you know some station changes are quicker to walk? For example, it can take up to 15min to change from the Northern line at Leicester Square to the Piccadilly line at Covent Garden while walking it is just 3min!

Check out some of these walking routes next time you’re exploring Central London.

If walking or cycling isn’t feasible for all of your journey, consider getting off a stop or two early. You might discover a new store or cafe along the way! 🚢🚴

Shop the High Street

Photo of Notting Hill Bookshop entrance

With online shopping overtaking in-store purchases, fears over the “death of the High Street” are growing.

Often it feels like an early Christmas when a parcel arrives with your name on it, but there’s something magical about turning the fabric of a new scarf over in your hands in-store that online shopping can’t recreate.

So next time you feel like browsing online, step out instead and explore your area and support local businesses. It’s the perfect excuse to get some fresh air and hit your daily step target. πŸ‘Ÿ

Meal prep

Photo of homemade salad in a glass jar

With pizza and burger chains, cheap meal deals and an active social life beckoning, it’s no wonder we opt for convenience over cooking and grocery shopping. πŸ₯¦

This unhealthy habit can rack up pounds (both Β£ and extra padding) fast. Aside from high cost of living in London, fast food, pub meals and microwave meals are large in portion size and generally full of hidden nasties like sugary sauces and saturated fats.

Cooking is a great way to save time and money. You could get your weekly groceries and meal prep done on a Sunday afternoon, for example. It also puts you back in control of portion sizes and what healthy contents go into a meal. βš–οΈ

Salads, wraps, rice paper rolls, pasta and sandwiches all travel well and are quick and easy to make. I use Cancer Council’s Healthy Lunch Box for inspiration!

Join a fitness group

From CrossFit to circus, salsa to SUP and more, there’s fun fitness activities happening in every corner of London. πŸ’ͺ

Gym prices are notoriously high, and class passes can be even more expensive. Check your company benefits scheme if you’re eligible for discounts. You might be lucky enough to have an onsite gym!

Meetup and Facebook groups are a great way of finding local groups for running, tennis, football, yoga and more! They’re often cheap if not free, and a great way of meeting people.

Up your Insta game

Photo of Camden Market

London is easily one of the most “Instagrammable” cities in the world. 🀳

From heritage monuments like Tower Bridge and Big Ben to stylish cafes and street art, a photo hotspot is likely just around the corner.

Popular instaworthy locations include Neal’s Yard, Brixton Market, Leadenhall Market, Sky Garden, Brick Lane, Hampstead Village, Portobello Road Market, Kew Gardens and more.

Visit London’s feed is a great source of inspiration!

Curb liquid calories

Photo of a London pub beer garden

London boasts cosy traditional pubs, but there’s a reason a pint or two leaves you feeling full. 🍻

Many alcoholic beverages are calorific and loaded with sugar. Try substituting your next colourful cocktail for gin and slimline tonic, a glass of Prosecco, red wine or a dry white.

Non-alcoholic drinks can be just as bad like bubble tea, frappucinos and soft drinks. The English got it right with a cuppa tea.


Have you experienced Heathrow injection? Share your advice for managing an active, healthy lifestyle in London in the comments! πŸ‘‡


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Photo of a squirrel in London in autumn

Fall for London in autumn

London in warm autumnal hues coupled with fun activities and events will make you think twice before swapping hiking boots for slippers. πŸ‚

Thrifty London life tips

Photo of a Pret coffee cup at a picnic in London

London is one of the most vibrant, thriving and exciting cities to live in the world. It is also one of the most expensive. πŸ’·

Coming from Sydney, I was confident the high cost of living wouldn’t be painfully obvious. I was mostly wrong.

Steep rent, public transport and bills (some, you’ve definitely never heard of) coupled with generally lower wages takes some getting used to. After your first few pay cycles, you’ll start to work out what you can afford and what’s best to enjoy in moderation.

While you work out your budget, here are some tips for scrimping and scraping without missing out. πŸ‘Œ

Food and groceries

Photo of a London food market stall

Bottomless brunch and covering the next round of drinks can stack up quickly. Fast food is cheap, but you can easily achieve a healthy and sociable lifestyle:

  • Β£3 meal deals are a convenient mid-week lunch or breakfast to go. They typically include a sandwich, bottled drink and packet of crisps
  • Packaged salads and sandwiches at supermarkets are great for healthy convenience, but costs much less if you meal prep at home πŸ§‘β€πŸ³
  • Cafe loyalty cards offer freebies or discounts over time. Following your favourite places on social media is also a great way to spot a giveaway
  • Supermarket prices can vary a lot. Opt for cheaper groceries at Lidl, Aldi, Asda and Morrisons
  • Yellow stickers typically signifies a reduced price item which is perfect for a sandwich or sushi roll to be consumed that day.

Transport

Photo of a Santander Cycles docking station

TfL isn’t a world leading transport authority for no reason, but its coloured Tube service and iconic Black Cabs come at a cost. There’s plenty of ways to get from A to B in the Captial:

  • London Bus and London Overground services are the most affordable options (aside from walking!)
  • Off Peak fares apply outside of rush hour periods, and avoiding Zone 1 when using the Tube is also cheaper
  • The Santander Cycles cycle hire scheme are also affordable and accessible with thousands of docking stations located in zones 1-3 🚲
  • Cycle to Work scheme offers significant discounts on purchasing a bicycle, so it’s worth checking if your employer has one.

Rent and bills

Photo of the view from a London flat

Well, let’s get this one over with like a bandaid: renting in London is ridiculous. Paying up to half your salary for a “cosy” room sharing with random people with varying hygiene standards and noise tolerance levels gets old fast. πŸ™ƒ

While you don’t always get what you pay for, these tips can help ease the pain:

  • Rent is typically cheaper in East London and South London
  • Avoiding Zones 1 and 2, and often depending on the area 3, is a good rule of thumb but bear in mind public transport costs increase the further out you live
  • Living within a 10min walking distance of a Tube station will drive the rent up. Consider moving to an area with good transport connections to Central London or your office via bus, Overground or Docklands Light Railway
  • Not all council taxes are created equal so it’s worth taking into consideration
  • Opt out of paying for a TV licence and avoid doubling up streaming subscriptions. You can split the cost between your flatmates πŸ“Ί
  • Central heating can easily double your bill in the cooler months. Substitute it for warm indoor clothes and a good quality duvet from autumn!

Socialising and sightseeing

Photo of Sky Garden

Enjoying all London has to offer is hugely appealing; while it’s important to treat yourself to a West End show from time to time, there’s plenty of affordable options to keep you entertained:

  • London hosts some of the best museums and galleries in the world, and almost all of them are free to enter
  • Panoramic views of the city are free from Sky Garden and the Viewing Level at Tate Modern
  • Standing tickets are just Β£5 at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
  • Pubs and bars often host cheap trivia nights, comedy sessions and theatrical performances
  • London’s many stunning parks are perfect for picnics and outdoor fitness πŸƒ
  • Food markets or food halls are a great location for social gatherings as there’s a variety of options to suit everyone’s tastes and budget
  • Lunch time menus are typically cheaper than dining out in the evening
  • Rush tickets are a great way to bag cheap tickets for live and theatrical performances
  • MeetUp and other online groups offer socialising and free or cheap classes.

Fashion and beauty

Photo of a clothes rack

London is considered a fashion capital of the world. If you’ve ever wandered down Oxford Street and Regent Street, you’ll see why! Fast fashion is the name of the game, but your wardrobe doesn’t need to be at odds with your wallet:

  • Bag a bargain for a good cause at a charity shop
  • Shop sustainably at London’s vintage and retro markets
  • Use an app like Vinted or Depop to find your next secondhand treasure πŸ‘—
  • Student discounts are available at many major retails (and food vendors) so make sure to flash your ID card
  • Get your hair cut for free or coloured for a significant discount with salons like TONI&GUY who need hair models for their apprentices
  • Check Groupon or similar services for beauty package deals to get your nails, waxing and more for less.

Health and fitness

Photo of pedestrians crossing Millennium Bridge

While bottomless brunch beckons, it’s important to balance binging with regular physical activity. Affordable options include:

  • Streaming online workout videos
  • Free trials at gyms and fitness centres are a great excuse to try something new. Barre, anyone?
  • Joining a local fitness group. There’s loads of hiking, yoga and other social groups running cheap or free sessions
  • Cooking at home and freeze portions to have something healthy on hand when hunger strikes
  • Reading my guide for avoiding the Heathrow Injection! πŸ’‰

Holidays and travel

Photo of

European holidays and local trips in the UK are a hugely appealing reason for being located in London. With multiple airports and international rail, it’s also hugely accessible. Here’s how to bag a bargin:

  • Score cheaper airfares by travelling mid-week
  • Shop around for fares, tickets, rooms and rentals online
  • Flights and accommodation are generally cheaper in shoulder seasons (off-peak)
  • Student discounts apply for most airlines and travel packages
  • Learn the basics of a new language via app or a free language exchange.

How to do keep your finances under control in London? Share your hot tips and hacks in the comments below! πŸ‘‡


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Photo of Tower Bridge and London's skyline

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