Having a Social Life Without Going Broke

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Having a Social Life Without Going Broke

The easiest way to save lots of money in London is to shun all social activity. But you’re not in here to live like a hermit and there’s too much going on around the city to be able to do that. Being smart about planning nights out will mean you can live it up without living paycheque to paycheque and always being broke.
London Freebies

London is full of free things to do. Many of the main museums and art galleries are free, the city is packed with architectural sites which don’t cost a cent to gawk at. A walk along the Thames is a great way to spend a day as is just wandering around a new neighbourhood and getting yourself acquainted with your temporary hometown.

During the summer the city puts on all sorts of free events scattered around the various parks. You’ll be able to find all sorts of sports days, concerts and festivals from May to September happening somewhere in the city, the trick is staying on top of all the events. Grabbing a few mates, an eskie full of beers and lazing around in your local park on those rare sunny days is another cheap day out.
Eating Out

There are tonnes of fantastic places to eat all around London, not just in zone 1. In fact some of the best places to grab a bite are way out of the centre and away from all the touristy restaurants of Covent Garden and scary looking pizza stands of Leicester Square with high prices and low quality. Look on the net for some reviews and you’re sure to find some locally owned, family run and affordable restaurants in your area.

If you want to have a few drinks with your meal, keep on the lookout for BYO places. For around £1 corkage per person you’ll be able to bring in drinks of your choice which will make a really cheap night out of spending the evening at a restaurant. For example you can get a green curry at my favourite Thai place in Acton (Royal Siam Orchid) for £6. Combine that with some cheap and nasty wine purchased at the Tesco next door and you’ve got yourself semi-civilised a night out for a tenner.
Pubs and Clubs

First tip would have to be to drink intelligently. Let’s not confuse that with drinking responsibly because I would never suggest that. Be smart, buy cheap drinks from your local off license and have a few tasty beverages before you head out for the evening. Even better, take advantage of the UK’s lack of public drinking laws and crack open a beer while you’re walking to the pub or even on the tube. Getting nicely boozed before you hit the town will save you loads but don’t go too crazy beforehand or you might be denied entry to wherever it is you’re going.

Sneaking alcohol into a club has never really been my cup of tea but some of my friends used to do it all the time and get away with it. But be aware that if you’re caught you’ll be booted out for sure.

Get to know which places in your area offer drinks specials. Happy hours will be a lifesaver, especially if you’re inclined to head to a city pub after work, and quite often run for longer than just an hour. Cocktails can be as much as half price so get in early and load up on drinks before stumbling home.
BBQs and House Parties

No matter how much of a cheap bugger you plan to be on a night out, going out is always going to cost more than staying in. Fortunately antipodeans in London love to party and if you’ve got a big circle of friends you should be able to find some mischief to get into almost any weekend.