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What is the Cost of Living in the UK?

Cost of Living (UK) – 2020 Prices 💸

When compared with other parts of Europe, living in the United Kingdom (and London in particular) can be expensive.

Of course, the “cost of living” number isn’t cut and dried. It depends on your own unique circumstances. And knowing how to budget and how to save money in London will help you keep your costs to a minimum.

But if you’re thinking of making the move to the UK for work or study it’s always useful to know how much you might need to earn to live comfortably.

What Is the Average Cost of Living in the UK?

According to data comparison website Expatistan, the average UK cost of living is:

  • £2,249 per month for a single person; and
  • £3,803 per month for a family of four.

Meanwhile, the Money Advice Service puts the UK yearly average cost of living at a more conservative £14,945 (based on 2018 stats from the Office of National Statistics).

This works out at around £1,245 per month.

Is the UK expensive to live in?

There are relatively few countries more expensive to live in than the United Kingdom.

In fact, Expatistan places the UK as the 7th most expensive country in Western Europe and the 14th most expensive country in the world.

Cost of Living: UK vs US

While the UK is up there in terms of cost of living, Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-contributed data, points out that it’s cheaper than the United States.

In the UK, the cost of living is 10% lower than in the US (based on the aggregate data for all cities, excluding rent).

Average Costs and General Living Expenses

Planning a move to the UK? Here are a few average costs worth keeping in mind (according to Numbeo):

  • Basic lunch (including a drink) - £12.00
  • Fast food combo meal - £6.00
  • Pint of beer - £4.00
  • Cappuccino - £2.75
  • 1 litre of milk - £0.92
  • Monthly transport pass - £65.00
  • Monthly adult gym membership - £30.00
  • Two movie tickets - £20.00
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bed apartment (city centre) - £750
  • Monthly rent for a 1-bed apartment (outside the city centre) - £600

Keeping costs down: Where to live in the UK?

London is a global financial hub and a mecca for those in search of culture, fashion, and a fast-paced lifestyle.

Unsurprisingly, however, the UK capital comes out on top as the most expensive city in the country. It’s not only costly where rent is concerned, but day-to-day expenses tend to be much higher too — although this can often be offset by the higher wages on offer.

So, if not London, where?

  • A study by ABC Finance found that Liverpool and Sheffield fared well as two of the less expensive cities in which to buy groceries, while Birmingham and Cardiff ranked highly for income leftover after annual household spending.
  • Other major UK cities offer a similar vibe to London without the hefty price tag. The likes of Manchester, Glasgow and Bristol more than hold their own when it comes to culture and nightlife.
  • And many smaller towns or villages offer a cheaper cost of living, although transport costs can sometimes bump this up if you need to commute into a major city to work or study.

If you’re moving to the UK or relocating from within and it has to be London, make sure you know how to get by without spending a fortune.

But if you’re flexible about where you want to live, you can enjoy a good quality of life in the UK without going broke.