I lived in and out of London for the best part of three years during my university studies, and whilst I came to call it my home, it can still be the daunting giant every non-Londoner views it as. Whilst I learnt to navigate the underground, roll my eyes at slow walking tourists and now I pay £4 for a pint without flinching; I still would get lost on unknown streets, and on occasion even on Oxford Street.
But one of the best things about surviving London is knowing how to not blow your budget. It’s not one of the most expensive cities in the world for nothing, and living on a small income as a student or otherwise means you learn to be a little savvy. I hope to return to London on a decent salary so I can enjoy the finer things it has to offer, but London can still be made the most of on the cheap.
London is not known for it’s glorious natural scenery, but more for being smokey. However it has plenty of beautiful parks to hang out in: from Hydes Park to Regents Park, Primrose Hill to Greenwich. And it doesn’t cost you a penny to hang out in. Summer days in London are relaxing and fab.
Always good to do your research to find the best one, but having your hair cut by a trainee is a great way to save money, and the results are always good. I used to go to the Toni & Guy Academy on Oxford Street, and it would only cost £5. It would take up all of your afternoon, but the people there are very friendly and you feel a little like you’re with a stylist. I once was even given free sweets. Win.
Museums and Art Galleries
A lot of these are free, and it’s London so you have some of the best the world has to offer. Plus the smaller ones, so you can be a hipster and be to places other people haven’t. So you can either look at amazing pieces throughout history and cultures at The British Museum, or nosey at The Sherlock Holmes Museum. Awesome, right?
Off West End Theatre
The West End offers some of the most spectacular plays and musicals, there are many more theatres all across London giving their own twists on classics, or debuting their own creations. It’s a much cheaper way to watch culture live, and its fun to expect either a top notch performance or a bizarre experience.
The Globe Theatre
Staying with the theatre, one way to watch an amazing production of Shakespeare plays is at The Globe Theatre, in which you can pay for a £5 groundling ticket. You have to stand, but you get an authentic experience of watching a Shakespeare play from his era, and the unexpected occurrences of an open roof theatre only adds to the fun.
Find the Best Discounts
If you have a rail card, chances are you can use that discount when paying for public transport on your Oyster Card. My Young Person’s Railcard allows me to travel in London with a 1/3 off the usual price. Plenty of websites also offer discounts for various things, so it’s always good to keep your eye out.
11 thoughts on “London Life on a Budget”
Great list! I’m heading to London in November and would love to visit the Globe Theatre. Always looking for ways to save and stay on budget 🙂
Awesome! In the winter season it’s the indoor theatre that opens, so you can watch a play by candlelight 😉 hope you have an awesome time!
That’s so cool ! I heard London was a very interesting city to live in ! 😉
Oh it is, there’s always something to do!
You’re so lucky ! It’s been a dream of mine to live there for years, now ! 😉
hope you get to! It’s worth the rush hour madness on the underground and ridiculous rent prices xD
Yeah I know but it kinda scares me, you know ? I mean, I’m not even British so it’ll be so different ! Are you British, yourself ?
I can understand how it can be intimidating! Yeah I am, I’m from a small city in the north of England so it was a daunting thing for me (my family never said anything but they were scared when I first announced I was going to uni there) But the wonderful thing about London is that it’s so multicultural- truth is it’s a different world to the rest of Britain. I think anyone who likes the city life can feel welcome. Once you get the hang of the fast pace of living you’ll be impressed how well you fit in 😉
Wow that seems so cool ! Sometimes I think about going there, even just for a week end because I don’t live far from London, actually (I’m French) ! But hotels and stuff are so expensive ! xD And yes, I heard about that and I saw it when I came to London for a scholar trip ! A man told me that it was one of the biggest french cities on the planet ! haha
Oh you should! I hadn’t visited London for years before I started looking at unis there, and I went on a few trips and it helped get a good idea of the city (and most importantly how to navigate the underground!) They are expensive, but there will be cheapish options! I know people get good deals staying at hostels.
Ahh I love France 🙂 it’s a beautiful country! I always regret not being very good at speaking French xD
Haha that’s a funny thought xD But it’ll certainly always help you if you ever feel homesick!
You’re so right about the underground : lol I’ll think about it, thanks for your advices ! You know even I think French is difficult, I mean the grammar, how to conjugate verbs and stuff must be really tough to learn when you’re not French-speaking from birth ! So you’ve been in France ? I personally love Camden because I love rock(ish) and punk(ish) stuff xD