I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Housing prices in London are so high you are left to wonder how anyone can afford to buy their homes in this expensive capital. According to some sources, London’s real estate market is the 3rd most expensive in the world after Monaco and Hong Kong. No wonder so many people choose to rent but, unfortunately, rent is not cheap either. In fact, rental prices are eye watering. To give you an idea, an average rental value in Shoreditch is ~£500 per week, not including bills.
Another huge expense is transportation. If you use underground in Zones 1-2 like I do, be prepared to part with £116.80 for a monthly travel card. Rates keep going up every year too which isn’t helping. I keep thinking about cycling to and from work but London rush hour traffic puts me off completely. Maybe one day.
Once you’ve paid your rent or mortgage and bought your travel card, living in London can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. Sure, there are many über-expensive restaurants around, high profile events, private members clubs and designer boutiques. It may seem that to be able to enjoy yourself in London you must have a small fortune. This could not be further from the truth and today I thought I’d share my favourite things to do in London that won’t break the bank.
MY FAVOURITE OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
London has so many beautiful parks; it’s impossible to ever get bored exploring them. My favourite is Hyde Park. It hosts many festivals, outdoor concerts, fairs, one-off big or small performing arts events and markets throughout the year some of which are free to attend. My absolute favourite is Winter Wonderland with a lot of fun shows for both adults and children, the giant observation wheel, an ice rink and a fantastic Christmas Market.
MY FAVOURITE ATTRACTION
I don’t have a favourite attraction as such. I love the London skyline and the best place to admire it from is probably aboard a ferry. There are commuter ferries that run between North Greenwich (that’s where the O2 Arena is) and Chelsea Harbour called Thames Clippers. They are relatively inexpensive and will cost you £4.30 one way if you are a travel card holder or £6.50 if you are not. The views you get to admire along the way are fantastic and well worth the money! Take a Thames Clipper from the Chelsea Harbour, preferably in the evening as the London skyline is so much prettier at sunset. The Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Tower Bridge, the Shard, St Paul’s Cathedral are only a few of the attractions you will get the chance to see from the comfort of your seat onboard. £4.30? Totally worth it in my opinion! As a side note, a year ago I used to commute to work by ferry. I miss those times!
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT
I love my food! Lucky for me, London’s dining scene is so diverse I can never get tired exploring it. I feel right at home here. There are so many great places to eat that will not break the bank. I have many favourite places to eat, but one of my most favourite and affordable restaurants has to be Dishoom in Shoreditch (there is one in Covent Garden too, but I prefer the one in Shoreditch). I happen to love Indian food and this is just the right place for me. My share of the bill rarely exceeds £15 for a nice dinner (excluding alcohol as I only drink soft drinks). The latest food craze in London is ramen. Shoryu Ramen is an affordable restaurant in Soho serving delicious ramen noodles. There are many other affordable restaurants out there. Eating out good quality food does not have to be expensive (I have got a list of new affordable restaurants that I am dying to go to!)
MY FAVOURITE GROCERY STORE
Groceries are not as expensive in London’s stores as many people think. Sure, if you go shopping for food in tourist areas you grocery bill will be quite high. These stores are there for the tourists, not for the locals. My favourite supermarket chain has to be Tesco’s. I used to live near a massive 24-hour Tesco’s for about four years back in the day and I got so used to it, I prefer it to all other supermarket chains. I’d say Tesco’s is on the cheap side when it comes to grocery shopping and that’s fine by me! My food bill is relatively low; you can read my post How I Spend Very Little on Groceries if you have not done so already. My favourite shop to splurge on healthy food and drink is Holland & Barrett (they also have a loyalty program, which you can use to collect points and later convert them into vouchers to use in store). A few weeks ago I splurged on a pack of Organic Green Tea Chai. It brightens up my mornings in the office!
MY FAVOURITE FOOD MARKET
I am a sucker for food markets. It shouldn’t come as a surprise really as I love anything to do with food! My favourite food market is Borough Market. I just love the atmosphere there. I don’t have to buy anything to have fun. Just strolling along the stalls and checking out all the pretty things they sell is a fun experience for me. Borough Market is very popular with the locals and there are plenty of pubs and restaurants nearby to catch up with friends. Again, you don’t have to spend a fortune. Grab a beer and have a laugh with friends. You can’t put a price on that! When you are ready to head home, go for a little walk and head towards the Tower Bridge, it’s a pretty sight.
These are just a couple of things I enjoy doing after work or over the weekend in London. London is an amazing city and has so much to offer whatever your budget is. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a fantastic time in London (whether you are a tourist or a local).