The average salary in the UK is around £38,000 per year, or roughly £3,167 per month. How would this square up if you chose to live in London, one of the most expensive cities in the UK? Would you just scrape by, feel a bit of a pinch, or be able to live the relative high life?
The cost of living in London depends on your lifestyle, but you can expect to pay between £800 and £5,000 per month for living expenses. Let’s explore the different expenses you can expect to encounter when living in London, such as property, bills, transport, food and drink, and entertainment.
One of the biggest expenses you will face when living in London is property. Around 60% of all Londoners are expected to be renters in the next five years, as the cost of buying a home in the city is extremely high. The average cost of a home in Kensington and Chelsea, the most expensive area in the UK, is over £1 million. Therefore, many people opt to rent instead. You can expect to pay at least £600 for a room in a shared property in London, so unless you are a high earner, expect to have to share like in your student days (but with better cooking skills and general hygiene, hopefully). There are a wealth of central London rental apartments to suit a wide range of budgets, but they don’t stay on the market for long due to constant high demand, so if you’re on the hunt for a bargain in Bloomsbury or keen for King’s Cross, move swiftly to not miss out.
Bills, bills, bills…
Bills are another expense you will have to budget for when living in London. Fast WiFi will cost around £20 per month, while a TV license will cost nearly £155 per year. Water bills will depend on your usage, but you can expect to pay around £40 per month. Gas and electricity will cost around £400 per year, but make sure to take a photo of the meter when you first move in to have proof of your usage and avoid paying for the previous tenant’s bill – these comapnies don’t miss a trick!
Getting around (including to work)
Transport is another cost to consider when living in London. The tube will cost around £4.90 for a single journey in zones one and two, but if you use an Oyster Card or contactless credit or debit card, this price is reduced to £2.40. There is a cap on transport costs of £32.40 per week for zones one and two, which is handy for many. Buses are the cheapest way to get about other than walking or cycling, with fares starting at £1.50 for unlimited journeys within an hour.
Food and drink
Food and drink can be expensive in London, with a pint of beer costing anywhere from £4 to £8 and a Sunday roast costing up to £20. However, supermarkets offer national pricing, so you won’t pay more for your groceries just because you live in London. Eating out at restaurants can also be expensive, with the average price of a meal at a mid-range restaurant being around £30 per person. Budgeting is key when it comes to food and drink. Plan your meals at the beginning of the week or month if possible to keep track of spending.
Leisure time and culture
One of the major draws of London is the culture, entertainment, and nightlife. But entertainment in London can also be costly, with movie tickets costing around £15 and theatre tickets starting at around £25. However, there are many free or low-cost activities to do in the city, such as visiting one of the city’s many museums or parks, or attending free events or concerts, as well as simply exploring the city’s many historic landmarks (though it can often cost to go inside those that admit entry). There are lots of resources online for finding low cost and free things to do in London.
In conclusion, the cost of living in London is high, but so are the wages and job opportunities. You can expect to pay between £800 and £5,000 per month for living expenses, depending on your lifestyle. When looking into its viability for you personally, sure to budget for all the expenses we’ve covered: property, bills, transport, food and drink, and entertainment. However, with the many job opportunities (including lucrative career advancement) and cultural experiences available in the city, living in London can be a worthwhile investment.