Setting up: where to buy the essentials

Food shopping

Supermarkets vary in price but some of the cheapest are Asda, Aldi, Lidl, Iceland, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Marks & Spencer and Waitrose tend to be more expensive.

It’s also worth checking out independent stores outside of central London, as they can often offer good quality produce at better prices.


For reasonably priced homewares (pots & pans, sheets, towels, toaster etc.) for your accommodation, we suggest you try the following place near LSHTM:

  • Robert Dyas for electrical equipment
  • Primark for good homeware at low prices
  • Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and other department stores
  • Flying Tiger for an array of cheap but fashionable household goods

Outside the city centre, stores like IKEA, B&Q and Homebase sell a huge range of home furnishings, rugs and plants. Poundland stores offer a variety of products for £1 or less.

Remember: many high street shops offer a discount (usually 10%) when you show your student ID card.


LSHTM is situated 10 minutes’ walk from Oxford Street and Regent Street, the main shopping streets in London where you will find all the chain stores such as Zara, H&M, Next and Primark as well as large department stores like Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Selfridges. LSHTM is also close to Covent Garden, which is a clothes shopper’s haven with plenty of stores along Neal Street, Long Acre and surrounding roads.

Remember: many high street shops offer a discount (usually 10%) when you show your student ID card.


There are several branches of Rymans close to LSHTM, which offer a student discount on presentation of a valid student ID card. Paperchase sells attractive, though more expensive, stationery as well as a big range of greetings cards and art materials. Flying Tiger also sells some very reasonably priced stationery.


There is a large Waterstones just around the corner from LSHTM on Gower Street and another on Tottenham Court Road. LSHTM is also close to several independent and second-hand bookshops, such as Judd Books on Marchmont Street. Otherwise, you may want to look at online book providers such as Amazon or Abe Books, which sells books second-hand.


The main pharmacy chains in London are Boots and Superdrug. Pharmacists can also offer basic medical advice for small problems. Smaller independent pharmacies (or chemists, as they are usually known in the UK) can be found in shopping streets outside the centre of London.

Charity shops

Charity shops are often a great place to buy cheaper second hand items such as clothes, homeware and books. There are some located near LSHTM on Goodge Street and there is an Oxfam bookshop on Bloomsbury Street.


There are several gyms to choose from near LSHTM including those at International Students House and the YMCA on Great Russell Street. There are also several privately-run chains nearby such as Fitness First and Nuffield Health, though memberships for those tend to be more expensive. Other chains like PureGym and The Gym Group offer cheaper and pay as you go deals.

Many less expensive gyms are run in partnership with the local council so you should search the local council website for the area where you live. The Oasis Sports Centre is one such gym close to LSHTM.

Sport societies

There are many sports societies you can join through the University of London including football, athletics, basketball, rugby, netball, cricket, volleyball, squash, badminton, lacrosse, hockey and ice hockey. There is also the opportunity to compete in national competitions and student leagues.

Clubs & societies

University of London societies offer the opportunity to try a huge range of activities through its many clubs and societies, such as art, drama, music and debate.

Post Office

If you are sending mail abroad then you should check costs on the Post Office website to ensure you are using the correct postage stamps. If you are sending a package, then it is usually cheapest to visit the Post Office. The nearest branches to LSHTM are on New Oxford Street, Marchmont Street and High Holborn.

Mobile (cell) phones

There are several stores specialising in mobile phones, often competing with each other to offer the best deals so make sure you shop around. The main phone networks (EE, O2, 3, Vodafone) all have stores around London.

For each network, you have the following options:

Contract phone

  • Minutes, texts and data included
  • The phone is usually a cheaper initial cost
  • Monthly bill
  • Committed to at least a year’s contract
  • You will need to have a bank account where you can pay by direct debit

Pay-as-you-go phone

  • You pay for minutes, texts and data you use though sometimes these are included in certain deals
  • Phone is usually a greater initial cost
  • You top up your phone with money when needed
  • Not usually a commitment

SIM only

You buy the SIM card to put in an existing phone or buy a phone separately. Other companies such as GiffGaff and Mobile Phones Direct offer competitive SIM-only deals.