Living in our capital city is expensive. After travel and rent costs, what do you have left over at the end of the month? Probs not a lot. But it’s not all doom and gloom – you just have to be a little more creative with your spending. As a self-confessed savvy saver and former property guardian, I’ve compiled 10 (real) tips to living in London and actually enjoying yourself.
1. Location, Location, Location
Just because your friends live in Clapham doesn’t mean YOU have to! Yes, it’s nice to be close to them but how often will you actually meet up? More often than not I meet friends for dinner and drinks in central London, normally close to work, as there is more choice and we’re already there!
2. Think outside the box(room)
Think about what you NEED from your house rather than what you WANT. Yes a garden is lovely but how often will you use it? (In my case, never…) and remember London is full of parks and gardens for those sunny days. Explore less traditional ways of renting such as property guardianship, ‘share and care’ and house sitting.
3. Exploit your Oyster
If you’re travelling during rush hour, using the tubes at weekends or like to get the bus if it’s raining, chances are getting a travelcard will be cheaper. My annual travel cards saves me nearly £30 PER MONTH (that’s over £300 per year!) than buying a monthly one. Lots of workplaces offer interest free travelcard loans so it’s worth asking about. If not consider putting it on an interest free credit card and paying off monthly as you would pay for your travelcard.
4. Don’t fob off freebies
I know, I know, we’re Londoners, we’re always in a rush, we don’t smile at strangers and we certainly don’t like people trying to talk to us/ hand us stuff on our walk to work or as we’re popping out for lunch. However, I have been offered all sorts of free stuff on the streets of London from cinema tickets to pasta, gym passes to Christmas decorations. So think twice before you brush past someone standing outside Oxford Circus station at 8.30am…
5. G is for galleries, not for gin
Instead of spending your Friday night in a dingy underground bar with no phone signal why not visit a late night opening? Lots of the museums and galleries have evening openings once a week or once a month and many offer free entry including the Natural History Museum, V&A and National Portrait Gallery. You can grab a glass of wine, explore the exhibits without tonnes of screaming kids and school parties and you won’t have to shout over a distinctly dodgy DJ playing music way too loud for 8pm #win.
6. Get outdoors!
Did you know that London is the greenest capital city in the world? We have a wealth of parks and gardens on our doorstep – Hyde Park, Regents Park, Hampstead Heath, Clapham Common, Battersea Park, to name a few. So as summer approaches, instead of fighting for a seat in your local beer garden or sweltering on the tube why not pack up a picnic, a blanket and a good book or bottle of wine and head to the green!
7. On your bike
It always amazes me how much people rely on getting the tube to get around London. Much of London is very walkable, TFL have even introduced a walking tube map which I love. If you don’t fancy walking then Boris bikes are an excellent way to get around cheaply, easily and take in the sights.
8. Food glorious food
There is no excuse for bad food and in London this is certainly the case. Keep an eye open for restaurant pop ups and food festivals where you can sample Michelin starred food for McDonalds prices (almost). New restaurant openings are also a great opportunity to eat out on the cheap with many restaurants offering reduced prices during their soft launch – expect queues! Finally sign up to every restaurant newsletter you can, vouchers are often emailed out, especially for quiet periods (Jan/Feb and mid-week are most common) which can reduce your food bill.
9. Sample the sample sales
Thanks to the wealth of designers in London sample sales are a common occurrence. Often a great chance to pick up designer items on a budget or invest in a piece by someone up and coming. Social media is usually the best for hunting these down or a wander round Shoreditch looking at flyers.
10. Make the most of the markets
Markets make for a fun day out and are an opportunity to fill up on freebies and bag some bargains. I love Borough Market and Brick Lane for food, Greenwich for food and crafts and Covent Garden for just about anything. Less trendy markets include Walthamstow (which has the longest high street in Europe and on Saturdays stocks pretty much anything you can think of) the famous Roman Road market and Shepherd’s Bush. Keep an eye for fruit and veg stalls at markets – they’re almost always cheaper than supermarket prices and prices get slashed towards the end of the day.