Living without money in London

2766976463_d1600705cf_mSimplicity and, by association, frugality, are key traits of most successful vagabonds. Want less, do more is a good — if oversimplified — soundbite description of the way most long term travelers live.

Naturally there is considerable variation within that tenant. Some vagabonds get rid of everything entirely, others simply throw their possessions in a cheap storage unit while they’re gone. Some, like me, throw it in a cheap storage unit and then decide 18 months later that, well, if you can live without it for 18 months why not forever?

It’s a pretty easy conclusion to reach with some things — that fancy TV you haven’t used, the cell phone now so out of date it looks like historical artifact, and other gadgets. But I’ll be honest, I kept my bed, my clothes and other things that most of us would consider essentials.

When I’m not on the road I pay rent, I pay bills and I work to afford it (and save for the next trip). But I admire those who don’t — like Katharine Hibbert, who lives in London without using money. Yes, that sounds impossible. But to many people traveling the world sounds impossible too.

The Guardian has published a short excerpt of the book Hibbert has written about her experiences and how she is able to live without money (Extracted from Free: Adventures on the Margins of a Wasteful Society).

The fact is that Hibbert is able to live without using much money (based on the excerpt in the Guardian, she seems to spend a few pounds a month) in part because squatting is legal in England (it’s largely illegal in the U.S., though laws vary by state), but also in part because she’s learned how to want less and do more.

The interesting thing about Hibbert is that she doesn’t live the way you might think someone without money lives. There’s nothing too difficult about what Hibbert is doing; she’s not living in a cave; she’s not going months without a bath; she’s not drinking her own urine or doing anything else totally bizarre. She’s just simplified her wants to the basic needs, which, when you get down to it, isn’t much at all.

Far from anything extreme, Hibbert lives pretty much like vagabonds tend live when traveling. In fact, the concluding paragraph of the excerpt sounds quite a bit like something a vagabond might say about traveling:

I am more optimistic today than I was when I walked away from my old life. The world is not the hostile, dangerous place I imagined, and I feel a greater sense of its possibilities. I get by, not just because of empty houses, wasted food and discarded consumer goods, but because of the people I rely on and who rely on me, strangers and friends.

[Photo credit Natalia Romay, Flickr]

Posted by | Comments (2)  | January 19, 2010
Category: General

2 Responses to “Living without money in London”

  1. David Says:

    I you are on a visit and want to save money visit the art galleries.When I went two years ago We went into St Martin In The Fields” Church. in Parliament square I think. If you go downstairs there is a wonderful large restaurant with fine food. Very reasonable prices. We were very surprised to find it there as no noise could be heard in the church.Enjoy your trip.

  2. Debbie Woolley Says:

    Please tell me how to live in London without any money I am broke. Thankyou Debbie