Living in London for Free(ish)
We know what New York, Tokyo, Berlin and others might have to say, but facts are facts: London is the biggest city in the world. And it is a fact. Fact.
What’s not so great is trying to figure out how to get the most out of this bustling metropolis – there is so much to discover and cool things to discover around every corner. Whether you were born and raised in LDN or are a newcomer to the capital, knowing how to keep your money in your pocket is an art form in itself.
Lucky for you, that’s kind of what we do here at London on the Inside. We’ve put our heads together and come up with some brilliant advice for areas of London life where the pocket is usually pinched.
Did someone say “free”?
Yes, London can be expensive, but it’s also the best place in the country for free experiences.
First of all, there are enough free museums to visit so that you can explore one every weekend and never run out of things to see, thanks to rotating exhibitions, special events and new acquisitions. Some of our top picks include the V&A Museum, the Design Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, and… the Chocolate Museum (oh, yeah!).
If music is more your thing, the Royal Opera House offers free “Live at Lunch” performances, which are ideal for enjoying some high culture time during your work day. On a related note, the Royal Academy of Music organized lunchtime concerts for the bargain price of £ 0. Combine art and music at the monthly Tate Lates by the Thames at Tate Modern.
Famous, Covent Garden is a paradise for street performers. If you’ve never seen them in action, create a bee line for this West End icon and prepare to be surprised. Once you’re done, there’s always more to see in Apple’s bustling Market where artisans and shops sell their wares (you’ll have to pay for whatever you like, unfortunately).
And speaking of markets, there is an almost endless supply for you to wander. You’ve probably heard of Greenwich and Borough Markets, but some of the lesser-known are also worth a visit.
Under Waterloo Bridge you’ll find the Southbank Center Book Market, full of second-hand classics and contemporaries, cards, prints and other goodies.
Brick Lane Market is a real jungle and worth a visit. Spread over several streets, there is always plenty of delicacies for the senses here. See you on Sunday and you will have 200 stands to browse!
We’re only scratching the surface here, but one place we couldn’t leave out is the Columbia Road Flower Market. Hop down early to pick up the best clusters, bulbs, cut flowers, and shrubs at this horticultural institution. The heavenly scents floating in the streets are reason enough to get out of bed!
Maybe I should stay?
Ah, the timeless challenge: buying a home in London. If there is a time when money will be tight, it’s when you buy a house (let’s be honest, it will be an apartment in London). So we were somewhat amazed to find a mortgage broker who offered their comparison services for free. Like, completely free. Trussle is awesome; Their mortgage advisors know about the rises and falls in house prices in the areas you are looking at, piles of information especially for first-time buyers, mortgage comparisons and more.
From Morden to Edgware and vice versa
But what about travel? Well, traveling to London is actually a lot cheaper than you might think. The Hopper fare was introduced in September 2016 and now allows passengers to get on and off an unlimited number of bus and tram services across London within one hour. As for transport in London, it’s practically free.
If you are visiting London for a short time and / or plan to travel outside of zones 1-2, consider getting a Visitor Oyster Card. Not only can it be up to 50% cheaper than regular public transport, but it also gives you discounts at restaurants, shops, the Emirates Air Line cable car, and the Thames Clipper riverboat. Good deal.
Finally, many of the main central tourist attractions are quite close to each other – and certainly within walking distance with equally good public transport options. Hopefully with all of these tips, whether you are a tourist or a resident, there should be enough of them to make the most of London.