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Ask the intern: How can I save money in a big city while I’m interning abroad?

Hi Sugar, I am a student at the University of Newcastle in Australia. I have just been accepted onto the London program for a 6 month placement in Business. I’ve been working a part-time job so that I can save some money for my time abroad but I know how expensive cities can be. I know that I’ll definitely have to stick to a budget while I’m away but I still want to be able to enjoy myself. As a student, I’m used to having to watch what I’m spending but I’ve never lived anywhere as pricey as London. Is there any way you could give me some money saving tips for interning abroad in a major city?


Hi Josh! Thanks for getting in touch with such a great question. Cost-cutting and budgeting are such important life skills, especially when you live in a big city. It’s easy for your spending to get out of control in places like London. However, most exciting opportunities are in big cities, so learning how to live when prices are high and your budget is not is a skill you’ll be grateful for later in life. Thankfully, living cheaply doesn’t mean missing out on all the fun. Below I have compiled my money saving tips for living in a big city.

1. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

My biggest tip for saving money comes down to everyone’s favorite thing: food. The money I have spent eating out at lunchtime during my internship abroad here at The Intern Group is astronomical! By making food at home and bringing it to your internship, you can save so much money. Even though it may sound like a time-consuming task it is really beneficial in the long run.

You can make so many different things like pasta, rice, salad or sandwiches. If you don’t want to spend loads of time cooking throughout the week, you can cook big batches of food at the weekend to keep in the freezer or fridge and eat throughout the week.

money saving tips

2. Calculate and keep track.

It may be boring, but sitting down and working out a concrete budget is the best way to go. There are websites that allow you to compare the cost of living in London to that of your home city. This way you can really get a feel for expenses. You should also take into account changes in exchange rates and potential charges when using your credit card abroad.

3. Prepare to go over budget.

Unfortunately, life has a tendency to turn out to be more expensive than you think. Even if it doesn’t, it’s better to have the pleasant surprise of extra money at the end of your month than the unpleasant surprise of having no money. By being realistic with how much money you’ll need and then overcompensating, you’ll hopefully never feel out of your depth.

money saving tips

4. Prioritize

When thinking about how you’ll spend your budget, you need to think carefully about what you want from your international internship. You may have to make small sacrifices in order to have the experience you want. If you picture yourself going for drinks with colleagues everyday after work, you may have to give up buying a fancy coffee every morning. If you want to travel around Europe after you finish your placement, you may have to skip your expensive gym membership. It’s all about prioritizing!

5. Get the lay of the land

Your first few weeks in London should be about scouting out your go-to grocery store, fruit and vegetable market, pub or whatever else you need. By hunting out the cheapest option, you can save money right from the very start.

Now you know all of my money saving tips for your time abroad, apply today to launch your career with an international internship.



1. based on London, by Pedro Szekely, CC-by-SA 2.0

2. based on Broken Piggy Banks, by 401(k) 2012, CC-by-SA 2.0

3. based on Freezer meal preparations,by Valette Keller, CC-by-SA 2.0

Photos and blog by Sugar Thomas

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!