If your childhood was anything like mine, it will have been imprinted into your brain (by all parents / teachers / mysterious old people at family gatherings who claim to be related to you) since what feels like the dawn of time, that having a hobby is a Good Thing.
Although you may not have particularly enjoyed the innumerate hours of ballet practice / Chinese lessons / orchestra rehearsals forced onto you when you were a child, having things to do outside of your 9-5 is actually a super fun and interesting way to spend your evenings and weekends (and stops your life descending into ‘drinking boxed wine alone every night’).
However, the major downside (for me at least) is stuff costs money. As someone who gets bored crazily easy, I really do need to have a range of different things going on in my life to keep me busy, but doing this in London on a budget can be tricky. Even so, some of the hobbies I manage to keep up include; running, playing netball, going to gigs, reading, writing, doing yoga, hula-hooping, and learning French.
So, here are some of the ways I found to indulge my fave hobbies, without breaking the bank;
Your local gym is £49.99 per month? Grim. Invest in some trainers, a kettlebell (you can get one for like £5 if you do some research) and a yoga mat, and you’re set up for the long-term. It may not be your ideal situation, but if you’re prepared to compromise you can save yourself a lot of money.
However, if you have decided you are gonna spend money on your new hobby, it’s definitely worth shopping around to find yourself the best deal.
- For language courses, try Universities or other higher education centres (this is likely to be discounted if you’re a student).
- Check out the different gyms near your home / work, and ask if they have any special deals (e.g. student rates, cheaper memberships if you go at off-peak times), or a free trial you can cancel after the first month.
- Check sites such as Groupon for deals on bulk exercise and yoga classes (amongst other things).
- If you’re still a student like me, University clubs are likely to be cheaper than basically any other options you may have. Plus, there are Uni societies for literally everything.
- For things such as the cinema, independent film theatres are likely to be cheaper than a huge Odean – the Peckhamplex in South London offers tickets for £4.99(!)
- Keep up-to-date with Time Out London for discounted / free fun things going on in the city.
Technology is your friend
Apps are so great. For language learning, there are so many options – my personal favourites are Memrise and Duolingo (both free). I also love to read books on my phone (the classics are free!), and there are some amazing YouTube channels with yoga routines (again, free).
Best things in life are free
As mentioned above, technology lets you have so many good things for free, so use it. Other great options for free fun include;
- Libraries (also, some cosy pubs have free ‘book exchanges’ which I adore)
- Free comedy / live music (try local pubs for this)
- Free exercise classes; try Our Parks for a bunch of different activities, including (my favourite) hula-hooping, or the Nike running club which operates across the city
- Alternatively, get together with friends to go run along the South Bank / yoga in Regents Park
- Galleries / museums (‘Lates‘ are super fun)
- Writing / blogging (once you start, it can be pretty addictive, and free)
So, I’m going to try and keep updating this list as I find more ways to keep on having fun in London, and please let me know if you have any more tips I can include!