Just a small town girl, living in a very expensive world

London on a budget

London on a budget

OK, so technically Canterbury is a city, not a town and it’s not like I haven’t lived away from home before (I lived in South America for half of last year). But moving to London is a whole different ball game, especially when it comes to the cost of living.

Rent and bills are fairly non-negotiable, so I’ve had to find other ways to make the most of living in the capital on the cheap.

Here’s what I’ve done, which hopefully can help others in a similar boat.

London is the most expensive city in the UK to live in, but it’s also one of the most vibrant and culture-rich. That’s all well and good, but what’s the use if you can’t afford to take advantage of all the attractions and exciting events?

Freebies

Thankfully, lots of London’s attractions are free (I know that was predictable, but I’m not done here, yet), which means sunny days spent in one of London’s many parks – I like Brockwell Park in south London – and rainy days spent in museums or galleries.

But what about the cost of getting there? When in Canterbury, I walk everywhere, but London’s just too big for that – or so I thought. Actually, I walk a lot in London and find I use the Underground a lot less than I imagined I would.

It’s easy to think, as a visitor to London, the only way to get around is by Tube, but its map is surprisingly misleading.

Of course, it’s not always convenient or safe to walk, which is when I make use of my bus pass, which is £10 cheaper a month than a travelcard for the Tube and a great way to get to know the city.

Special offers

So, I’ve mentioned the obvious free stuff in London and cheaper ways to get around, but what about events and activities that aren’t free? Cue MoneySavingExpert.com.

Having always been a keen MoneySaver, I’d used the site for years before starting my job here and always found it great for days out offers and the like.

But perhaps even more helpful than offers and discount codes are the savings I make elsewhere that allow me to spend money on luxuries, like trips and meals out.

Of course the 2for1 vouchers are great and I rarely eat anywhere I can’t use my Tastecard, but it’s the help with tax rebates and getting the best from my savings that make the odd top price theatre ticket something I can afford now and again, although I’d never actually pay full price for it.

A little trick

I realise that all of this so far may be painfully obvious to some, but I hope it will help others. However, I have one more trick up my sleeve, and that is Time Out London.

Whether it’s the magazine, one of its books – I highly recommend 2012 things to do in London – or just the listings on the website, which are free, it’s full of great ideas for unusual days out.

The London Naked Bike Ride is one such free event I never knew existed. Though I think I might just give that one a miss.

Have you got any tips? If so, feel free to leave them in the comments below or in the MSE Forum.