Welcome to London, one of the greatest cities in the world for fashion, arts, culture, and education, but sadly all of that comes at a price. The capital can be jaw-droppingly expensive. But you already know that! Luckily there are still ways to live the good life on a shoestring budget, here are some pointers to keep you going throughout the year.
Unrivalled shopping department stores and boutiques are great, but what happens to the leftover stock or samples? They usually end up at various sample sales across the city with discounts of up to 80%. The best way to stay informed is following The Secret Sample Sale, Chicmi, My Shopping Spy, and LDNFashion. It’s worth signing up to one of their newsletters to stay up to date.
Becoming a student doesn’t mean you have to survive on pot noodles and meal deals. There are plenty of ways to eat for free or at least with a hefty discount. With new restaurant openings, anniversaries, events like National Burger Day, and just random giveaways, you can still live the good life on a shoestring budget. The best way to stay informed is by following some of the cities most up to date blogs and sites. Good examples include London On The Inside, Hot Dinners, Skint London and Eater London for all your foodie news and discounts. You can also follow our London guides for tips on places to dine.
With great hair comes great responsibility! Getting a haircut in London may set you back a months rent in some places, which is obviously very scary. There are some ways around this luckily – the first being the endless amount of training academies and hair salons that offer free (or heavily discounted) haircuts to all genders. There are a number of training academies in London who are always on the lookout for hair models. If you register with the London Hair Academy (they offer free men’s haircuts, £5 ladies haircuts/£15 colours) they will send you text messages with which haircuts they have available on a particular day. You can also book an appointment with the London School of Barbering, Totalbarber.co.uk or the Vidal Sassoon Academy who do free classic haircuts or creative haircuts from just £3.
Several museums, galleries, and cultural hubs open their doors late at least once a month to an evening of free art and occasionally DJs, food, and drinks. This is easily one of the best ways to experience London and see some exhibitions that might otherwise cost up to £30 per head. Most tend to have a young audience and sometimes double-up as an evening out. Keep at eye out for Uniqlo Tate Lates with NTS Radio, Friday Late at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Lates at The Wellcome Collection. On the first Thursday of every month, over 150 galleries in east London come together and run free events, exhibitions, talks and private views during a special late opening, including The Whitechapel Gallery and Creative Debuts in Shoreditch. Most are a stone’s throw away from our Curtain Road, Golden Lane and Mare Street sites.
DO THEATRE ON A BUDGET! After lunch, walk to Leicester Square, and negotiate the crowds to the ticket booth at the south side of the square. Discounted tickets to many shows are available for that evening. Unless you’ve booked a long time in advance, this is the only way to see a show on a budget. The discounts are available at theatre box offices too, plan in advance which shows you’d like to see and head there to try and pick up some last minute tickets. Students or concessions may have more luck here, the Cambridge theatre reserves eight tickets for 16-25-year-olds each day, and other theatres operate similar offers.
Cycling is one of the best ways to see London or at least your neighbourhood, but the streets might seem a little intidating if you’re new or grew up in a place where cycling isn’t an option. The London Cyclist has put together a list of places offering free training courses across the city to boost your confidence. Read them here.
See the skyline for free in many different boroughs. Avoid the queues and hiked up prices of The Shard and London Eye, there are plenty of parks and skyscrapers where you can get an equally impressive view for free. The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street is free if you book a time slot in advance, there you’ll get stunning views of the city and beyond from the skyscrapers 34th floor. You can also walk a short distance to One New Change shopping center roof deck by St Pauls for further views from inside the city. The parks with the best views in London are Primrose Hill, Greenwich Park, Alexandra Palace, and Hampstead Heath.
Crame in some knowledge or progressive thoughts at some of the best free lectures in the world. The British Academy, the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences, has been running a series of public lectures for over 100 years. The lectures cover politics, law, art, literature, history, science and more. The Gresham College in Holborn was founded upon the principle of accessible, free education for all and has been hosting cutting-edge lectures for over 400 years. Other institutions in London offering free lunch-time or evening lectures include the National Gallery, Royal Society of Arts and LSE. LCF and UAL also host a series of world-class talks and workshops throughout the year (make sure you follow our channels and events listing). Billetto and Eventbrite are some other great sites that showcase a lot of the free or affordable events happening in London.
By Josh De Souza Crook.
This article was originally published on the LCF blog.