Hi, is it possible to live in London of an income of £20,000? Or even potentially £18,000? Anyone whose worked as a Junior Designer...

Have you worked in London? Would it be possible for someone to live off £18,000-£20,000? Has anyone worked as a Junior Desinger in London...if you don't mind me asking what was your starting wage? Did you get a raise the longer you worked for the company?


  • Yes as long as you're rent isn't too high, you live in z2-3 and you're REALLY strict with how much you spend. I was on £17k when I first moved to London. It was really really tough but because of my living situation, it was
  • Thank you for asking this, I don't think people are open enough about this - I've been working in London for 10 year (in fashion not graphic design). My starting salary was £21,000 -10 years ago and I found it difficult to live off of that then. The price of living in London has only increased since then.
    I’m surprised no one has pointed this out yet but London’s minimum living wage is £10.75 pr hour, a working week of about 37hrs will bring you to over £20K.
    However, I understand that creative roles are hard to get. Some creative roles require unpaid overtime and even weekends – so just be aware of the sacrifices you’re making for the job.
  • Hi Georgia, it is possible to live in London on that salary. Firstly, look around for decent flat shares in areas that you like or surrounding areas. It’s not going to be palatial but if you look around you’ll find somewhere. If you can cook, you’ll save yourself money on food and obviously save for some nights out. I have candidates who have managed it. Hope this is helpful.
  • Certainly do-able.
    Like many have said, rent in london is the biggest part, eating out is also no cheap. Depends on where you work, sometimes going out for lunch could easily be £15, cook and bring your own lunch could be a big saver. Average pint of beer is about £5-6. You just need to be a bit clever with your money while not completely isolate yourself from any socialising.

    website like https://listentotaxman.com/ will give you a clearer idea of what is your monthly income after tax.
  • Hey Georgia,

    I worked on this wage for around the first six months after moving to London on various different placements as an Art Director. I think it can be done, you just have to be really clever with your money. I think there are actually loads of ways to still enjoy London and your job if you know a few of the tricks.

    Rent is obviously a big bummer but you can become a property guardian if it takes your fancy which means you pay like £200 a month instead of the average £600/£700 .

    Get a bike if you can, commuting on the tube everyday is atleast £30 a week you don't have to spend. But if you do need to use transport, get a travel card (available for under 30's) which you can attatch to your oyster and gives you a third off travel.

    Do your shop weekly and go to supermarkets around 8pm. This is when they start discounting the food for the next day and can get some great bargains! Also, places like itsu discount all of their fresh food to half price half an hour before closing time... a great hack for if you're working late and hungry.

    Exhibitions are expensive, but if you invest in a National Art Pass (£45 a year for under 30's) then you get access to tonnes of exhibitions for free/ 50% discounted entry.

    Once I was actually hired my wage instantly went up to £25k, so you don't have to be in this situation for long, but I really think it's worth putting yourself out there and trying it if you can.

    Hope that helps!
  • Hello Georgia,

    Yes it's possible I was living from £1K per month when I arrived to the UK... but it's not nice tbh. To clarify I had that as a grant not as a salary. My first salary was £28K. That's negotiation skills nothing else really. If they want you it's always OK to ask for I high rate.

    It's always worth asking for more if it's reasonable. After your first 3 months if it's a right fit and you see your value in your company just be honest if you think your salary is not reasonable. Tthe best way to get in naturally to proof that they can't just replace you with someone who would be OK with the same money.
  • I second everything that's been said below. It will be tight but doable: keep the splashing out to a minimum (no credit card, agree with @col dixon 100%!!), plan your food shopping and it will be fine! :)

    I managed to make it on about 20k for a year or so, I am sure you can do the same!
  • Hi Georgina,

    Very fair question.

    I believe the thing that will drain your wallet the most in London is the rent (if you don’t have a place to stay).

    I suggest you do a little rent search and see if you think you could make it.

    Can it be done? — I believe it can. We all have to start somewhere, and usually the beginnings of any career is the most difficult stage (money-wise), but if you enjoy what you do, it could be worth it and could pay-off in the future.

    In terms of getting the wage up, every studio might work differently; with different probations/reviews periods... I believe probations are usually 3 months (this is where you’ll prove your talent and become part of the team if you pass), performance reviews might span longer.

    Also if you think from an employer point of view... the better you are the more you’re worth... so if you have prove yourself, you’re willing to help out and an opportunity presents itself, you’ll deserve a bump-up. If the place can’t offer one, it’s always your choice whether to stay put or move on to a better opportunity.

    In shot, if you’re willing and positive enough, good things and opportunities will present themselves to you.

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