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Economy & Finance

UK Cost of Living

Basic living expenses, general costs upon arrival, and transportation prices all determine your overall budget. We tell you all you need to know about the things which make up the largest share of your expenses. With our help, the cost of living in the UK will not take you by surprise.

 

While the United Kingdom is indeed a popular destination for foreigners, cost of living is a major downside of spending one’s expat life there. Particularly in recent years, expenses have been rising tremendously, mostly due to increasing car insurance and energy prices. Thus, it makes sense to set up a budget and keep your basic living expenses in mind.

Your Everyday Expenses

When it comes to calculating your cost of living in the UK, it is usually the basic living expenses that can make or break a budget. Of course, it takes a while to figure out just how much you should expect to pay for rent, food, and other regular expenses. Collecting information on the average price of these basics can be rather helpful.

At the time of writing in November 2016, the average rental cost for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center is around 750 GBP, depending on its actual size and location. A three-bedroom apartment usually costs around 1,230 GBP in the city center. Please remember that rents can go up significantly in the London area for example, or when a certain neighborhood becomes more popular. Housing in the suburbs or rural Britain is usually a little cheaper. On top of the monthly rent, you can expect about 140 GBP in basic utilities for a larger apartment. If you want to take your significant other out for dinner, that will cost you another 50 GBP at a mid-range restaurant.

Don’t Forget General Costs upon Arrival

Unlike UK citizens, expats might have to calculate with additional costs or a higher budget. This particularly applies to the first few weeks or months after your arrival, when you have to go on a job or housing hunt and have to make do with the type of accommodation or mobile provider that is immediately available to you.

The first rent and deposit for your new apartment or your space in a shared flat can amount to 1,000 GBP (or more). Add the costs for your journey to the UK, the costs for furnishing, internet access and mobile phone, and other essentials, and you will be faced with a hefty bill. Of course, this does not take the money you’ll have to spend on insurance, utilities, and food into account.

The Soaring Cost of Living in the UK

Since the financial crisis in 2008, the cost of living in the UK has increased four times faster than the average earnings in the country. While the latter rose to around 27,500 GBP at the end of 2015, the cost of living is expected to rise around three percent until summer 2017 causing the real value of wages to fall.

A recent report also showed that the cost of running a home in the UK accounts to almost half of the household income. This means that before buying necessities such as food, insurance, or fuel, half of the monthly income is already gone by putting a roof over one’s head and paying the bills.

In recent years, the prices for transport, insurance, electricity, gas, rent, and food have increased the most. This has forced many people to switch from cars to public transportation and from regular supermarkets to budget foods and retailers. The sharp rise in costs for gas and electricity can at least partly be explained with the switch to green energy.

The Costly Life of a Family in the UK

Families suffer the most from the rise in the cost of living in the UK. In 2015, an average family in the UK needed 40,800 GBP a year to have a decent standard of living — 50% more than before the recession. These numbers include housing costs, utilities, insurances, clothing, food, and the cost of commuting to work. The latter is one of the most severe portions, with fluctuating gas prices and significantly increasing car insurance costs over the past years.

What is more, this budget with which families have to calculate does not yet include any luxuries, the various taxes, or school fees. The latter can be extremely costly in the UK, especially for higher education. Thus, families are struggling the most to keep up with the current rise in the cost of living in the UK.

Surprisingly Expensive: Living in Rural Scotland

Generally, it is believed that living in the city is much more expensive than living in a rural area. This might be true in many cases, especially when comparing the cost of living in London with that of a small British town. However, there seem to be some exceptions to this rule: rural Scotland, for example, has been found to be much more expensive than many urban areas in Britain. Although prices in rural Britain have been falling in the last years, the cost of living in the Scottish countryside is still up to 40% higher than in many British cities.

The reason for this is that living in remote areas of Scotland is more expensive when it comes to the commute, clothing, food, or household goods. Moreover, high energy bills add to the significant additional costs, due to the colder climate and oil-heated, older houses being the norm. So, if your destination of choice is a cozy little cottage in the Scottish countryside, keep the cost of living in mind and adjust your budget accordingly.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

InterNations Expat Magazine