I believe one of the biggest misconceptions of London living is the cost. Yes, of course it can be expensive, but simultaneously no other city in world offers more for free than the ‘Big Smoke’. Residents of some of the UK’s smaller cities will undoubtedly agree that ‘there isn’t much to do’, and when there is limited choice, too there is often a high price to pay. Despite the elevated rental costs, which can be overcome by the shrewd house hunter, and of course the Olympic-boosted council tax, London doesn’t need to be expensive, there are plenty of tricks and tactics to saving money in London.
How to Save Money in London
My first stroke of genius came in the form of a rather old, but still fully functional Fila road bike. I hadn’t cycled since the days of menacingly manoeuvring my mountain bike around the local housing estate in search of a purpose, and in the Fila Fast Track, I found not only new transportation, but also a new way of living.
Not only was I getting fitter, but I felt cool, and most importantly, I saved money. In four years of cycling in London, I didn’t have one accident, nor indeed did anyone ever attempt to steal my new best friend; a good lock put paid to that.
For as little as £100 you can sign yourself to an Oyster card free existence, whilst at the same time waving goodbye to that unnecessary gym bill. Bike’s really are the future of London, and with a multitude of group events, it can b a great social tool too.
Yes, correct, you heard it here first, or maybe you didn’t, but still isn’t it great? A gym without the contractual binds and lycra-clad selling machines. It is genius.
‘The Great Outdoor Gym Company’ has installed outdoor gyms in locations all over the UK, and with an incredible 65 of them in London alone, you are never too far away.
Sure they are outside, and with the winter fast approaching that poses some discouragement, but come on, wave goodbye to air conditioning and the MTV Base ear abuse and get yourself out in the great outdoors.
It is the perfect compromise between organised restrictive gyms and the chaos of nature. A quick pop onto their website www.tgogc.com will tell you all you need to know, and help you locate your local complimentary fitness centre.
Now this may seem like a step too far for many, but as a short term option it’s as good as it gets in terms of money saving, and in my experience it certainly doesn’t have to be squalor.
When me and a trusty companion of mine had 6-months to fill in London, and a minimal budget, simply we moved into a spacious warehouse conversion with friends and plonked an Ikea shelving unit half way across our shared bedroom. Job Done. Our rent went done from £500/month to just £250, and add bill sharing into that equation and we were laughing.
Although perhaps not ideal if you have partners, we simply saw that as an increased money saver, and took the opportunity to act like boy scouts once again, giggling long into the night, and whispering ghost stories to one another through the t-shirt section of our shelving unit.
Eat in/Drink in
Not ground-breaking, but worth a mention. Shop like your mum. Buy ingredients and not tantalisingly tasty treats. Find a good vegetable shop or budget supermarket. Learn to cook, it’s fun. Invite friends around. Make your own bread. This is not only budget busting, but also a whole heap of fun. You can feel like a country bumpkin in the heart of the city.
With regards to drinking, I went one step further and stopped altogether, this I would highly recommend. For those of you not able to take that leap, drinking at home can certainly b a great cash saver, and it can give you the drive to find all of the great free entertainment options th city has to offer.
Free Entertainment in London
It’s simply that. Walk around, take in the sights, the architecture, the people; smell the history, the diversity, the life. Explore South Bank and get lost in the architectural maze of the Barbican Centre. There is so much to see, and you will never fit it all in. London is like a mysticl magical house from a child’s dream, and there is always a hidden door or secret passageway.
Parks are absolutely 100% one of the best parts of London. They are everywhere, and they are delightful. Walk through Regents Park and on through Camden; explore Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Clapham Common, Kew Gardens, Richmond Park, and any number of the city’s hundreds of other green spaces.
The parks are as diverse as the people, and really you can’t go wrong. In the summer they are crowded social centres, with picnics and Frisbees, footballs and empty lager bottles, beautiful women and gawping guys. In the autumn and winter they transform in to mystical museums of life, and in the spring once more they bloom. All year round London’s parks are an absolute treat.
London has an incredible array of free Museums and Art Galleries, and even doing one a week you can probably fill an entire year.
National History Museum, The British Museum, Tate Modern, Somerset House, Wallace Collection, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Hunterian Museum, Grant Museum of Zoology, Gulidhall Art Gallery, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, The Bank of England Museum, and The Britih Library.
All of the above are free, and along with a number of others, you also have one off special events to add to your list of things to do.
Theatre and Live Entertainment
Yes, in London it is also possible to get free theatre and live entertainment 365 days a year. One of the best spots is ‘The Scoop’, near Tower Bridge, which offers live music, theatre, film screenings, and fitness classes most days of the week during the summer.
There is also the world famous ‘Speaker’s Corner’, in Hyde Park, where spontaneous speeches and debates, usually on Politics or Religion, can keep you entertained for hours.
London being a city of musical dreamers also holds host to numerous free gigs, and Time Out always has a full schedule of free events in their online listings, where you can find anything from Gypsy Jazz to J-Pop.
Even if you’re not yet at the stage of room sharing or free gyming, it’s always good to make the most of London’s vast array of complimentary treats. Draw up a list and try to get through as many as possible in the next 12 months. You will soon have the bug, and it’s a great way to learn more about the great city in which you live.