How much does it cost to live in the UK: Your guide.
Rental prices in the UK vary greatly depending on which part of the country you are moving to. For example, London, being the epicentre of commerce and culture, and a magnet for people from all over the world, usually carries a higher price.
Recent data from Statistics shows that Greater London, the region that includes the UK capital, has an average monthly rent of £1,752. That’s significantly more than the next most expensive region, South East England, which has an average rent of £1,123. By contrast, the North East of England has the cheapest rent, at £580 per month.
However, these figures only provide a general picture of the regions. Even a relatively expensive area like London will have some properties that are on the cheaper end of the spectrum. You can use listing websites like Right move and Spare Room to find rooms in shared apartments for £500 or less.
Getting around the UK is very easy due to the abundance of public transport options. For example, London is known for its iconic red buses. At the time of writing, a single journey costs around £1.55, although the most you’ll pay for a day’s travel by bus is capped at £4.65. It is also possible to buy a monthly pass for unlimited travel for £84.10 and an annual pass for £876.
Meanwhile, the cost of riding the famous London Underground, or “Tube” as it’s called locally, will depend on where you’re headed and whether or not it’s rush hour. For example, a single journey on the tube from Wanstead, a suburban area in east London, to central London currently costs an adult £2.90 off-peak. As with bus travel, there are maximum caps on the total you have to pay on any given day and monthly/annual travel passes are also available. You can check prices for your area in London here .
You may discover that public transport in other UK cities is cheaper than in London. For example, in Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK, unlimited off-peak day bus travel currently costs £4.20 per adult.
Now, there are certain aspects of your budget that will depend entirely on you, your individual tastes and requirements. A clear example is how much you will spend on food when you live in the UK. There are major supermarket chains like Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and Lidl that can offer food products at low prices. At Tesco, you can buy a loaf of bread for £0.99 and a 650g pack of chicken breast pieces for £3.75 (prices correct at time of writing).
Also, the amount spent on new clothes in a given month will vary greatly from person to person. A 2022 Statistic survey of clothing spending can be taken as a general benchmark. The research found that UK respondents aged between 30 and 49 spend on average around £116 a month on clothes and shoes.
If your lifestyle includes going to the gym, the good news is that most towns and cities in the UK will have at least some options. According to UK government sources, the average gym membership is around £40 a month, but many gym chains offer rates below this. It’s worth exploring a bit for discounted rates and free trials for new members.
The UK is renowned for its taxpayer-funded National Health Service (NHS), which provides a wide range of healthcare to residents. Depending on your visa, you may have to pay an additional charge to access NHS treatment. It currently costs £624 a year for non-student adults and £470 a year for students or people under 18.
When you have access to the NHS, everything is provided free of charge, from GP appointments to specialist consultations and hospital treatment. However, keep in mind that there are usually added costs to pay for dental procedures and eye exams and most adults in England have to pay £9.35 for prescription drugs.
While the NHS is sufficient for most UK residents, you also have the option of purchasing health insurance. This will cover private treatment costs, offering the possibility of shorter waiting times and luxury healthcare facilities. According to a recent estimate, the average cost of health insurance is around £1,400 a year, although the exact price will depend on your personal circumstances and the kind of cover you’re looking for. You can compare health insurance plans on reputable price comparison websites like Med broker and Active Quote .
There are many energy providers in the UK, some of the largest include British Gas, EDF Energy and Scottish Power. What you will have to pay for your gas and electricity bills will depend on your consumption, which is measured in kWh. The best value for money is often provided by fixed rates, where the cost per unit of energy remains the same for the duration of your contract.
According to recent data released by the UK government, the average combined energy bill for British households is around £112 a month. Of course, the actual amount you will have to pay will depend on the size of your property and your energy consumption habits.
As for broadband and television packages, don’t worry, you’ll have a lot to choose from. Prices will depend on factors such as broadband speed and the number of TV channels included in your package. The cost can range from £22 to £100 a month, so it pays to compare providers carefully. Websites like Confused.com and Compare the Market can help you evaluate your energy, broadband, and TV packages.
Entertainment and socializing
If you intend to stick to a tight budget, the good news is that there are plenty of cheap places to eat and drink in the UK. The country is world famous for its pubs, where the average cost of a pint (large glass) of beer is just over £4 (although prices will vary considerably depending on where you are). As for restaurants, of course there are many luxury and special occasion places with menus where diners spend £100 or more per person. However, the vast majority of restaurants will not present you bills with those very high prices. You can sit down and enjoy a pizza at a chain restaurant for something like £13, while many restaurants have set price menus offering three courses for £25 or less.
Are you a fan of the movies? Adult cinema tickets in the UK can cost between £6 and £10 or more. Some theatre companies offer passes that let you see as many movies as you want. For example, the Cineworld chain currently offers a pass starting at £9.99 a month.
The current minimum wage for workers aged 23 and over is £8.91. According to data compiled by the Office for National Statistics, the median salary for UK employees in 2021 was £31,285. That is, 50% of full-time employees earned more than that and 50% earned less.