Cost of Living in the United Kingdom

by Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009

costoflivingUKThe United Kingdom has been known to hold supreme world power for the past two centuries. Although the two world wars have greatly affected its status, it still remains as one of the most influential, wealthiest and most powerful countries in the modern era. It is the first industrialized country in the world, which has declined over the centuries but the UK remains one of the major economic powers in the globe.

At present, its economy ranks 5th with a GDP of over 2.3 trillion euros and a per capita GDP of over 35,000 euros. The cost of living in the United Kingdom can differ depending the person’s lifestyle and location. Some provinces and countryside areas can offer cheap and very affordable living conditions while the busy major cities are more appropriate for those with higher salaries and privileges.

London is one of the three command centers for commerce and international business in the world. Living in this major city will definitely be pricey and cost of goods and services can be twice as much compared to smaller towns in the United Kingdom. This was captured in Britain Expat Forum last January 6,2009:

But London is the hub of the country…..with a lot of high-paid jobs based there. But at the same time, they don’t call it one of the most expensive cities to live in the world for no reason. Prepare to SPEND when u live there…..almost all house prices are really expensive!

Over the past few years, the country remained as the world’s largest financial center due to efforts by the London Stock Exchange and other institutions. There are also a number of islands around which offer quality living. Expatriates in the meantime are interested in investing in London regardless of living rates and condition. As a testament, London would be hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics. This has been posted on Britain Expat Forum last March 24, 2009:

London can be a good place to live, but very expensive. Personally I like to be close enough to travel to London for the day when I like

Food and Drinks Costs in the UK

The cost of food and drinks in the United Kingdom is generally high compared to other European nations. Most of the goods in major cities come from provincial harvests and are charged with value-added tax. Imported goods are also taxed which significantly increases their original value. The average Briton spends about 200 to 350 euros every month on food. Grocery items and those found in supermarkets are possibly the cheapest expatriates can find. Some delis and community markets may offer lower costs depending on quality. This has been overshadowed though by a looming price increases as current prices have been their highest in a decade.

Usual meat products in the United Kingdom are pork, beef, lamb and venison. Poultry like chicken, goose and duck is also available. Eggs, fruits and vegetables like sauerkraut, asparagus, apples, oranges, pears, herbs and spices can be found in most food shops at high rates. Fish and seafood are expensive as well especially imported ones from Asia and the United States.

Varieties of crab, shrimp, tuna and prawn can range between 40 to 80 euros on the average. British wine and beer are usually imported from Germany, Italy or France while there are also locally made ones. Prices differ little between the imported and local beverages but quality imported wines are the most expensive of all.

Clothing and Accessories Costs in the UK

Shopping in London for clothes and accessories can be quite expensive. There are several branded items and designer labels that have hefty price tags. Some local makers also make quality and excellent products with styles and technique handed down from generation to generation, which explains the high cost of wares. Home appliances, electronic gadgets and trinkets are usually imported from Japan and are priced higher after tax is due.

The cost of cars in the United Kingdom can also be significantly higher compared to getting them from their places of origin like Germany and Italy. Nevertheless, Britons manage to afford the high cost of living and commodities. Most items found in the United Kingdom are expected to be slightly more expensive than anywhere else in the world.

Housing Costs in the UK

The cost of housing in the United Kingdom has continued to increase over the past ten years, with the latest at 1.7% in the previous year. Apartments located downtown can be very expensive while suburban houses are also quickly upping in value. Rental rates for a one-bedroom apartment can be anywhere from 200 to 300 euros every month.

Bigger units with service swimming pools and other amenities can reach up to 2,000 euros every month. Suburban homes with yards are available for rent from 500 to 1,500 euros monthly. There are also a number of cheaper apartments with lesser quality in remote areas at 80 to 150 euros a month. All these are priced depending on quality and location. Cheap accommodations usually exclude utilities.

Owning property in the United Kingdom is strictly for citizens only. Expatriates can own land provided that they have changed their citizenship or have legal implications like marriage or diplomatic documentation. Taxes on house building will be indicated as well as property management and right to ownership and maintenance. More affordable homes and land for sale can be found in the outskirts of smaller towns and vast farmlands. Accessibility to these areas are however questionable and utilities may not be as reliable.

Services Costs in the UK

The United Kingdom is one of the most advanced countries in the globe so telephone and internet services along with other communication links like cellular phone service and the like are ensured to be of top quality. Rates for internet usage are around 15 euros every month while telephone rates depend on consumption.

Transportation in the United Kingdom is also very efficient and state-of-the-art. Train stations, bus stops and airports are usual terminals for the locals and expatriates which offer reasonable rates. One can travel quickly between destinations at any time of the day. Some expatriates also prefer buying private vehicles and these can be fairly expensive due to gas consumption.

Health care is another great service offered by the country. Insurance policies are well supported by respective institutions providing excellent services and modern approach and technology in treatment and rehabilitation. More than 10% of the country’s GDP is allocated to health care facilities due to the growing number of elderly population. To clarify this, all citizens make contributions as stated in Britain Expat Forum last March 5,2009:

Once you are settled in the UK you must pay taxes here (it is more complicated than that, but in principle if you reside here the government expects you to pay taxes here).

Part of those taxes are the National Insurance Contributions, which contribute to all kind of social support, I believe NHS would be part of that.

In any case, once you are settled and are paying taxes locally (that is working for six months) you have the right to use the NHS

Employment Costs in the UK

Business, trade, stock exchange, commerce and tourism still comprise the bulk of the country’s financial support. Several slots are still available for expatriates in these areas. At present, the United Kingdom’s employment rate is at 95%, which is one of the highest in the world, but this is only for the time being with the financial recession’s effects still to be fully measured.

One of the nation’s strengths is equal distribution of occupations between the rural and urban areas. At the moment, the country is looking for more helping hands for health care centers and hospitals due to the rising number of sick people and aging individuals.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

belle November 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Hi, I'm planning to study in London by next year. I will have around GBP 11,000 left after tuition fee. Will this be enough to survive 9 months in the city?


Hùng December 9, 2011 at 1:09 am

I think it would be enough or more than enough if you have a good habit of cooking food at home or enjoy some cheap junk foods like fried chickens (£2.50 per portion with 2 pcs of fried chickens and some chips), Pizza (£1.30 per 7" at a shop near my home). Living in Zone 3 or 4 will save you much money, zone 3 => 360 per month / Single room (or get a small double room by lucky chance) while zone 1or zone 2 => 450-500 per month for single room.


Lily Michel November 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Hi everyone.. I am being offered admission into a university in Lakenheath.. I'm transferring from another European country.. Please i need URGENT answers on what the cost of living (apartment,feeding and basic student stuff) is like before i go further with my decision.. PLZ PLZ ! Bless!


Gii November 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

hello everyone, i'm from Jakarta (Indonesia) and i'm planning to get my postgraduate degree in UK, perhaps in London or Middlesex or Leeds or Manchester. How much is the cost of living in UK per month by 2012-2013? i look forward for the latest reply from you all. Thank you 🙂


justice maile December 14, 2011 at 12:13 am

Hi everyone, im from south africa and im planning to join UK army next year 2012. How much salary per month i should be expecting?


mostro January 16, 2012 at 8:54 am

Hi, I was offered job in the Whirral area (35.000 pounds gross plus an annual bonus of 7000 aprox). I am married, with one 5-year old son and other in the way. If I want to rent a 3-room house in a decent neighborhood, and have a normal life (nothing too fancy, eating outside once per month, perhaps once cinema, regular expenses at home, own a car, two-three weeks of vacaton) will be the salary good enough? More or less, how much should I expect to be deducted in taxes, health care?


unknown February 22, 2012 at 8:54 am

I have experience for more than 20years in middle east in engineering. i am working as manager in one of the well know company in middle east. kindly advice if I get job offer in uk in suburb area what package i should ask for , if I will stay with my family there. appreciate urgent reply.


norm February 25, 2012 at 10:41 am

For anyone who is thinking of going to the UK to live or work, good luck, it’s not that fabled land of milk and honey. Of course, if happen to be a good chartered accountant, some Very specialist type engineer, a surgeon, a good GP doctor, work in the film business, in specialist type way, and some oil rig jobs, then YES you can earn some incredible money. But, generally these type of positions are handed down through connection and nepotism aspects, as the UK is very, very class bases social system. 95% of people never get a chance or even a look into earning anything more than around 15k to 25K a year ish, at the top end. But in fact it’s going to be quite miserable.


Nick March 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm

No country is perfect,but the UK is better than Australia thats for sure!


norm February 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

If you’re in the know, or have been offered some fantastic job at 90K or 130K a year whatever that maybe, then yes, you can buy almost anything you can think of ( for a price) its not a country for me and I’m as English as you can get. No quality of life, and rules will take your money and strangle you to death. You wanted the truth well here it is! _


norm February 25, 2012 at 10:43 am

Obviously not so much in the affluent areas, but again you’re going to need to be up in the 60 to 100k plus bracket to even start to think about leaving the bad side of society behind. Having said this, I am mostly talking about down south of the country where things are far more expensive. But you go up the midlands or north, and the weather is noticeably worse, the jobs are far harder to obtain, and if you find one it’s likely to be about 30 or 50 % less than down south for the same type of job. But regards trouble the midlands and north have their fair share of undesirables too.


Sonya March 17, 2012 at 7:13 am

Hi Everyone! I am moving to the UK in September this year from Australia. I am currently working in taxation and would like to get a job working HR (as a career change). What would you recommend as the basic wage I would need to get? I am going to be living in a share house and would like enough money to pay for medium cost of living with a bit of travel thrown in. I have 5 years HR experience and some systems experience. I have been having trouble finding out figures. Someone has quoted 1500 pounds a month? Thanks for your help! 🙂


Loul73 March 19, 2012 at 8:02 am

is 30.000 £ after tax salary is enough for a good living in sunbury on-thames middlesex? for a family of 4


Inge March 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm

My husband and I are retired on a combined income of approximately £3200 per month. We currently reside in Brandon, MB Canada, and are considering moving to the UK (husband is a UK national) but would like to get some idea of how costs compare Canada vs. UK. We will be living in a clergy retirement house (subsidised rent) so that's taken care of, but would like to know how heating, lighting, water, telephone rates, internet rates, and groceries compare. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Inge


rrr July 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm

transportation is state of the art in the uk? cave art maybe!


TSK December 19, 2012 at 3:17 pm

NON citizens can own property…!!! Never read such a load of rubbish…..Also, having lived in France and Germany, must say the UK is cheaper, as the retail market is very competitive and lots of bargains to be had…..


Mansoor March 19, 2013 at 5:29 am

I am moving to London and my work place is in west London. I have two kids and wife with me. Can any one guide me about the average monthly expense while living not too far from work Place( Post code is TW8 )


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