Bank Balance Confessions: The 20-Something Sydneysider Who Moved To London

Here at The Cusp, we believe that talking about money empowers us to make more informed choices – and that tracking your spending can be revelatory. Here’s the latest instalment in our series exploring the income and expenditure of young Australians. Want to get better with money? We can help you there, too.

I’ve been living in London for over nine months now, and it’s been difficult. I am lucky to have a full-time job working at an arts venue. I live in Shoreditch, Zone 1, and my rent is just within my price range – my bedroom is the size of a shoebox though. I make about £400 a week after tax; just shy of AU$670.

I have always budgeted, but never this tightly. In Sydney, I used to divide my salary into thirds: a third covered rent/utilities, another for food/general life, then the other third went straight into my savings. Here, I have to budget because otherwise I could easily blow through what little money I have, just by overspending on food or clothes.

I don’t have any debts other than my HECS debt, which is somewhere around AU$35, 000 last time I checked. I have about £600 in savings (almost AU$1k), that’s what I’ve managed to save while living here for nine months.

My spending is almost entirely related to either food or the arts; living here means the opportunity to see really incredible cinema, theatre, music and art. Better yet, tickets are so much cheaper, if you’re earning the currency.

Having said that, I am yet to manage to save more than £100 (about AU$165) by the end of the month. I commute exclusively via public transport to keep costs down, but my monthly travel pass costs £128 (approx. AU$211). I’m also in the process of moving at the moment, so unexpected costs are bound to come up. I’m moving because both of my housemates are leaving. The rent in my new flat will be £100 less, which is a massive help. But by contrast, I’ll be a little further away from the “cool” areas, and my journeys home after nights out will take longer. My new area is a bit more residential, but way more culturally vibrant than Shoreditch.


  • £6 – For once in my life, I think ahead and buy food to make lunch for a few days. Wholewheat pita bread, cheese, tzatziki, falafel, lettuce and some bananas.
  • £11.50 – Movie ticket for Elle. Movies aren’t cheap but they are my number one pastime.
  • £3 – Coffee. There’s always at least one a day.
  • £30 – Train ticket from London to Cardiff – I’m going on holiday with friends soon and I’ll be meeting them in Wales. I could have gotten this ticket cheaper if I’d booked earlier. But alas, no.

= £50.50 (or around AU$83.50)


  • £2 – Coffee. This will get redundant quickly.

= £2 (AU$3.30)


  • £2 – Coffee again.
  • £179 – Bedframe. I’m moving house soon and discovered that the bedroom I’m moving into doesn’t come furnished, so this was an unexpected buy. Could’ve gotten something cheaper, but this one looked much sturdier.
  • £13 – Cloud Nothings (one of my favourite bands) at KOKO. It’s my fifth time seeing them, and it’s phenomenal.

= £194 (AU$320ish)


  • £2 – Coffee. I said it would get redundant.
  • £6 – Coffee and a lamington. My office was evacuated midway through the day and after being told to go home, I stopped off at a café near my flat.
  • £20 – Theatre ticket for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. There are a lot of deals for theatre in London, we got these tickets cheap through an online offer.

= £28 (close to AU$46)


  • £4.50 – Breakfast. Failed at preparing my food at home so I grab coffee and banana bread on the way into work.
  • £6.50 – Avocado sushi salad and a ginger shot. I work in a touristy spot and there aren’t many healthy options around. So dropping this much on a salad isn’t that surprising.
  • £4 – Stop off for groceries on the way home: avocados, wholemeal bread, and a pint of my favourite ice cream on sale.

= £15 (just shy of AU$25)


  • £3.70 – A yoghurt and granola pot and orange juice for breakfast.
  • £2 – Coffee. Friday coffee!
  • £5 – We have a food market on Fridays at my work, and I decide to try a new vendor selling chicken parm. It is not very good.
  • £3 – Carrot cake from the bakery stall at the markets.
  • £10 – I meet up with some friends after a movie (I received the ticket for free), and have pizza for dinner. I don’t finish it and take half home.
  • £2 – I head to a party with my friends, and buy a sparkling water at the bar.

= £25.70 (around AU$42.50)


  • £13.60 – I meet up with friends visiting from Dublin for a leisurely veggie breakfast and flat white.
  • £2.50 – cinnamon bun from a Swedish bakery.
  • £0.90 – garlic bread from Sainsburys to go with the leftover pizza from the night before.

= £17 (a cool AU$28)

Total weekly spend: £332.20 (or approximately AU$550)

I keep a log of all my spending, otherwise it’s easy to lose track and wind up with nothing saved at the end of the month. So I’m not particularly surprised with the outcome of this week, although the bed was an unexpected cost. I am used to saving more usually, so this has been an adjustment for me. But it’s hard to complain when the spending is for travelling around Europe or going to see my favourite bands perform.