Dating website Plenty of Fish revealed the average single adult spends £1,350 on dating every year in the UK! Dating on a budget is entirely possible and – we think – necessary!
We may associate romance with posh candlelit dinners and being swept off our feet on glamorous nights out but many of the most memorable dates are those unusual, quirky or spontaneous ideas that often don’t cost a penny.
Sign up to Myboxoffice.biz for free last minute theatre tickets to performances with spare seats. There’s sometimes an admin fee to pay but this is never more than £3. If you prefer films, sign for free with See Film First for the chance to see films for free before they’re released.
Free TV shows
Take your date to see a TV show for free. You can sign up for free BBC shows, tour and live events, or be in the audience of your favourite BBC TV show by clicking here. Another great site is Lost In TV where you can apply for tickets to other TV network shows like Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? specials and The Cube. Add yourself to their mailing list to receive updates on any new dates of upcoming shows.
Don’t forget that there are lots of free places to visit all over the UK. To get you started, here are 10 fantastic free attractions from Visit England. You can also find information on free festivals, parades and other shows on Free-events.co.uk or try putting your postcode into the search box on WhereCanWeGo.com.
Museums and galleries
Many museums are completely free to enjoy in the UK. London is home to some of the most famous, and a great place to start is the national collections. For information on national collections in London, the north of England, Wales and Scotland go to Visit Britain or find a museum near you. You can also find lots of great ideas on places to visit on Britain Express.
For further inspiration on living for free read our freebie guide.
Help an older single friend or relative find love with myLovelyParent – you simply write a glowing description and recommend some potential matches!
There are tons of ways to enjoy a romantic meal out for less!
Go to the best places
Keep an eye out for restaurants that provide great value for money. Yell Reviews – a Moneymagpie favourite – lets people like us say what we think about bars, clubs, restaurants, galleries and other venues. It’s free to register, and allows you can see what other people recommend and tell them what you like, or don’t like, about the places you’ve been. It will save you money and heartache next time you go out.
Try signing up to Tastecard for a free trial. You’ll get 2 for 1 on loads of restaurants, saving tons of cash every time you go out for dinner!
Get a meal for free
Book your meal through OpenTable – they feature 50% off deals at great restaurants across the country. Plus the site is packed with helpful reviews, maps and suggestions so you know what to expect. If that wasn’t enough, for every five meals you book via the website you get the next one free!
Try breakfast instead
Meeting for breakfast is a lovely way to break with tradition on a date, and it’s much cheaper than an evening meal. Make sure you pick the location well, though (we advise against a greasy spoon for your first date). If you need some help, read reviews on sites such as 10best.com, Tripadvisor.co.uk and Qype.co.uk.
Check out the local attractions in your area or town. You’ll be amazed at how much there is to see and do in the great outdoors. Regularly scan the local paper to see if there are any free events or markets and enjoy the fresh air and blue skies.
Parks and gardens
Make the most of any good weather and take a delicious picnic to a park or garden nearby. We are spoilt for choice in the UK with stunning parks all over the island, lots of which are free for all to enjoy with events to enjoy in the warmer months too. Get all the info at Greatbritishgardens.co.uk, Nationaltrust.org.uk and Royalparks.org.uk.
Markets and fairs
Foodies can spend the morning sampling the culinary delights from their local farmers market, or if you prefer to rummage through bits and bobs for a diamond in the rough, find your local craft fair for a relaxed date.
The bigger book stores often have poetry readings, live bands on weekend evenings, free lectures on all manner of topics. You can find regular poetry events across the country here.
Rise and shine
Get up early and drive to a nice scenic place to watch the sun rise and then go for breakfast. You can always try a spot of foraging in the great British countryside – find out more with our article on foraging.
Grab backpacks and go up a beautiful mountain, or along a river where you can skim stones across the water. If you’re feeling more energetic, take your bikes and follow a path somewhere or hire rollerblades for the day.
Go to the beach
Grab a frisbee and your dog if you have one. You and your date can bury each other in the sand and have fish and chips for lunch. If the sun is out play some ball games, collect some shells, hunt for crabs or simply chill out with a good book by the peaceful ocean. Search for your nearest beach at the Good Beach Guide website.
Download the Geocaching app and go explore! There are many different locations to choose from, all with different things for you to collect. Who knows what you’ll find.
Charities and other organisations need people to volunteer and if you want to help out, it could be a great way to put your dating time to good use. Your local community centre will have information on opportunities in your area or try Do-it.org.uk and Volunteering.org.uk.
If the sun isn’t shining there are still plenty of fun things to do together – it’s actually a great opportunity to snuggle up and keep each other warm!
Going to the cinema is nothing new to the dating world, but if you get the film right, and the cinema, you’ll be on to a winner. Independent cinemas are far more romantic than the usual Vue or Odeon offerings and lots offer cheap tickets with special loyalty concessions to cut costs even further. Tickets to the art deco Tyneside Cinema start from £9.75, for example, but ‘friends’ of the cinema can pay £45 for annual membership and save £1.50 per ticket. There are also several Picturehouses in the UK and if you’re ever near Nottingham, try The Broadway where you can buy a meal and film deal for just £14!
Coffee shops and pubs
Take along some board games, or a pack of cards and you can wile away the hours together. Go to Cosy Coffee Shops where you can find listings of some independent at coffee shops. Just click on the map to find one in your home town. The pub is a fairly obvious choice for a date, but it’s also one of the easiest and if you’re going for a date choose one of best you can find. Try Fancyapint where you can search for a pub near you by location, nearest station, name or rating.
See a show
Spend an evening at the theatre or a concert of your favourite band, or if you need a giggle go and see a live comedy show. You can save money on theatre tickets if you buy on the day or attend a matinee, or go to Lastminute.com for great discounts. Another useful website is Theatremonkey where you can find out the latest special offers on London theatre and concert venues and read our full guide to cheap tickets.
It takes two to tango
The dance of lurve, tango classes will get the passion blazing (or just your face) and there are classes for beginners all over the UK. In London, for example, Tango Movement offers drop-in classes for free (or £17 if you stay the full time) and a beginner’s crash course for £100 if you’re really keen. Find a tango class near you here.
Take the love of your life to a nice open green area and snuggle down to watch the stars. There’s a good app called SkyView which will help you spot what’s in the sky. Don’t forget coats and a blanket though, as it can get cold.
Home sweet home
Cook dinner together, rent a film and get cosy on the couch. You can try Amazon Prime (including a free trial!) to watch a film included in the subscription or rent a more recent title, or get a Netflix subscription to choose from thousands of titles!
And if there are just too many options to choose from, write down all the ones you both like the sound of, throw them in a hat or bowl and pick one out. If you like each other and keep going out, you may even get through all of them.
Lots of dating websites are free to join initially but you will usually need to pay a subscription fee eventually to contact other members you like the look of.
Match.com and Dating Direct are two of the biggest dating websites and you can become a member for free. Subscriptions mean you can start talking to other members and arrange dates.
If you don’t want to pay a subscription, there are plenty of free dating apps to try, too.
Tinder is infamous as a dating app – but it’s a great way to find local single people looking for love, too.
Plenty of Fish will give you a ‘chemistry test’ to help you find your ideal matches, while OKCupid uses questionnaires to improve matches. Bumble is where girls act first – women have to send the first message, creating a safe space for them and letting guys get all the attention on a dating app for a change! Hinge is the newest face on the dating horizon – give it a go!
While your personal safety is always a consideration with using these sites, take extra care with the free ones. If anyone can make a profile without having to pay, then there are bound to be scam artists who will give it a go.
All the sites say they monitor users carefully but make sure you don’t give out any personal information online. Don’t forget to tell a close friend when you’re going on a date and when you’ll be home.
Make sure you don’t miss our article Find a date in 47 steps – it’s packed with great advice on leaving singledom behind and finding that someone special.