A Brief Guide to Living in Brighton - From A Former Student.
Updated: Sep 17
Living and studying in Brighton for three years was an unforgettable experience. If you're curious about what it's like to live there, this brief guide to Brighton will tell you everything you need to know.
(And read to the end for a bonus section on the best fashion shops in the city!)
When walking through the streets of Brighton, you never know what you'll see...
Giant graffiti murals. A man dancing on the pavement in rainbow spandex. A group of naked bicycle riders. Someone with a zebra mask on playing the piano. These are all sights that would make most people do a double take on the street.
Once you've lived there for a while, you get used to the zaniness. In fact, it's something that's encouraged if you take the time to look through the 'Keep Brighton Weird' Facebook group. (Go on. Join. You won't regret it!)
However, there's much more to the city than its outlandish reputation. Brighton's a great place to live if you want both the beach and the countryside at your doorstep, love supporting independent businesses, and thrive in an open-minded environment.
I lived there for three years during my English literature degree and I don't regret being there one bit. Not only did it influence my sense of style, but it connected me to a range of like-minded creatives. It was also never boring. Be it photography exhibitions or great live music, there was always something exciting to do.
If you've clicked on this article, you probably want to know what it's like to live there. I've got you! Here's everything you need to know about living in Brighton - the good and the bad.
Brighton is almost as expensive as London. *cries*
(Numbeo lists the city's cost of living index as only 3.36% lower than London!)
Before I moved to Brighton, I compared the property prices to other student cities like Portsmouth. There was a noticeable difference. The average rent in a house without bills is between £498 to £650 a month, which is between £115 to £650 a week. This means you'll probably want to flat share.
A general rule of thumb is that the closer you are to the city centre, the more expensive those houses will be. And, you've got to consider your transport options if you want to live further out.
To save money, there's plenty of marked cycling lanes if you like to bike. If not, you might want to consider getting yourself a digital bus pass on the Brighton & Hove Buses app. Student prices are cheaper. Their 90 days networkSAVER pass costs £149 (usually £231). It'll last you for a term.
Oh My God. The Food!
The restaurant, cafe, and takeaway options in Brighton do not disappoint - especially if you're vegetarian or vegan. Pop onto Deliveroo or Uber Eats and you'll find options for a variety of taste-buds.
Food shopping-wise, you've got your basic supermarkets like the big Sainsbury's on Lewes Road or the Asda at the Brighton Marina.
On the other hand, there's a variety of alternative supermarkets too. HISBE near St Peters Church is an independent supermarket with vegan and zero waste options. (Remember to bring your own shopping bags and containers if you visit!)
Eating out in Brighton can be tricky. Not because there aren't any options, but because there's so many places to choose from. To make things easier for you, let me recommend three of my favourite places to find yummy food in Brighton:
Sunbirds Deli - 109 London Rd.
This cafe near the Open Market is an affordable haven for gorgeous food. I was a regular whose go-to order was their vegetarian meze with a black coffee. If you're not sure what that is, it's a plate filled with smaller dishes - popular in Eastern Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Arab countries. You can choose from chicken, meatball, vegetarian, or vegan mezes for only £5.50. A bargain!
We <3 Falafel - 37 Sydney St.
This is where my falafel awakening happened. We <3 Falafel sell scrumptious wraps that are packed with flavour. Their falafel salad wrap is only £4, so it's a great place to get a cheap lunch. In the summertime, I've seen huge queues outside the shop. That tells you everything you need to know about the taste.
Namul - 49 Gardner St.
Korean food lovers need to check out Namul in the North Laine. They sell bibimbap - a warm rice bowl that is topped with assorted meats and vegetables. Namul have a ton of options available like tofu, aubergine, bulgogi, or mushroom bibimbap. The cheapest meal you can get is the classic (vegan) bowl for £6.50. Not bad at all!
It's Geographically Gifted.
Brightonians are lucky.
They've got the beach and the glorious South Downs to enjoy.
Brighton's also filled with fun locations to visit.
Of course, you've got the famous Brighton Palace Pier. In reality, locals don't really go there much as it's more of a tourist thing. Though, I do have happy memories visiting in the winter just to get a hot drink and some churros. Those churros. Wow.
Whatever you do, do not feed the gulls. Don't even get your food out near them. They will steal. I'm not lying because it's happened to me before. R.I.P my beloved crisps.
The Brighton Marina is another place you can check out, but don't get too excited. It's nice if you want to see pretty boats in a small harbour. Otherwise, it's mostly chain restaurants. But I recommend going on the 23 bus if you want to play bowling or glow-in-the-dark mini golf. They've also got an amazing car boot sale on Sunday mornings!
You've also got Kemptown which is a trendy but expensive area. And it's Brighton's LGBT hub! You'll see plenty of gay bars scattered along that area. Hove. I admit; I never went down there much. However, pop into Hove during tourist season if you want to find a quieter part of beach that you can actually breathe in.
Don't forget about Brighton Pride in August! It's something you just can't miss out on.
You cannot go wrong with the South Downs. It's a prime example of the UK's natural beauty. In fact, 40% of Brighton & Hove is national park. You might want to go for a hike around Wild Park or explore the majesty of Stanmer Park.
Another green space is Preston Park on Preston Road - the largest urban park in Brighton. It's great for jogging or dog walking. There's also The Level. Sit on the grass down there in the summer and you'll see plenty of weed smokers, jugglers, happy dogs yapping that'd been left off their lead, sporty types that are way too into ultimate Frisbee, and student groups that look too cool for you.
A Political Hot spot.
Many Brighton residents are passionate about their political views and aren’t afraid to express them. Be it the environment, international development, or homelessness, you’re likely to find an activist group for every cause. This is great if you want to connect with like-minded people who share your values. Don’t be surprised if you see protests around central Brighton now and then.
Generally speaking, Brighton is a left-leaning city. In fact, the Brighton Pavilion constituency has the only Green elected MP in the UK - Caroline Lucas. This tells you that many Brightonians prioritize environmental concerns. I saw plenty of beach cleans and vegan events during my time there, so if you feel strongly about that issue you’ll fit right in.
BONUS - Where do you get your fashion fix?
Since this is a fashion blog, I can't not talk about clothing. Living in Brighton taught me to embrace the secondhand fashion life.
I mean, you could go to the Churchill Square Shopping Center and buy your clothes there...
But don't miss out on Brighton's best independent boutiques and vintage shops.
Many of them are for great for fashionistas who have an unconventional sense of style. This includes alternative or vintage fashion.
So, here's some of my favourite fashion shops in Brighton!
Pretty Vacant - 11-12 Trafalgar St
One of my favourite pieces is from Pretty Vacant. A green midi dress with a pleated skirt, pussy bow blouse, and quirky glasses print! This fashion brand sells feminine dresses, tops, and skirts that you could imagine on the likes of Zooey Deschanel or Carey Mulligan. Their prints are a joy to look at. I’ve seen bow, lemon, flower, and sweet motifs that are utterly adorable. Pop into their Brighton store if you love girly clothing with a vintage twist.
Beyond Retro - 23 Gloucester Rd.
You can find an incredible Beyond Retro in the North Laine. All the clothing rails are well-organised and you'll need a fair bit of time to look through every inch of the shop. I've found 60s rompers, 70s maxis, and 80s tea party dresses - all in one day!
Collectif - 29 Bond St.
It’s impossible to look at rockabilly or pin-up looks from the past without falling in love. If you’d ever dreamed of recreating these romantic styles today, then Collectif is the fashion brand for you. They create flamboyant clothing inspired by 40s and 50s silhouettes and combine that with a modern mentality. Whenever I visit their store, I always find something I really like. Make sure you’ve got enough money when you go!
Snoopers Attic - 7-8 Kensington Gardens.
Snoopers Paradise is an indoor marketplace that sells curious objects. It also has a second floor. After walking up the creaky steps near the entrance, you’ll find a treasure trove of beautiful clothes. As it’s a marketplace, the Snoopers Attic contains stock from multiple, smaller businesses. My personal favourite is Future Folklore. They’re an incredible accessories brand that are inspired by antiques and old tales.
And there you have it! Those were just a few of my favourite fashion shops in good ol' Brighton.
So, Are you Brighton Bound?
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