London is a city on most people’s bucket lists. Whether you want to live there or just visit, there’s something for everyone – museums, theatre, attractions, places to eat, the list goes on.
If you’re one of the people who want to live there, you will no doubt be wanting to know the cost of living in London and whether or not you can afford its high prices (slight spoiler there!)
We’re here to help! We’ve got answers to what the cost of living in London is, whilst also telling you what salary you need to live comfortably in London and also the expense of London compared to other cities.
If you want to quickly find an answer, you can use this menu as a guide:
- Is London expensive to live in?
- Cost of living in London
- What salary do you need to live comfortably in London?
- Pros and cons of living in London
- How expensive is London compared to other cities?
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Is London expensive to live in?
To be short and honest, yes London is expensive to live in. London actually has the 3rd highest property prices in the world (according to ‘Salary after tax’). This would lead you to question why the cost of living in London is so high? What is making London so expensive?
London is the financial capital of the world, as it captures both Eastern and Western time zones so can gain capital a lot faster than other countries. This means London will generally offer the highest paid jobs, causing more people to move to London following a better pay, increasing the demand for housing, which sadly pushes up the prices of housing, meaning a high cost of living in London.
London also attracts big and small businesses, as due to the high volume of people in London, whether they who live there or tourists, having a business in London will almost guarantee your business attracting traffic. The attraction of businesses is another factor that causes a high cost of living in London.
Although a big cost of living in London is paying for housing, whether that be buying or renting, paying for transport, food shopping, and going out for food are also larger costs in London than in other cities in the UK.
If you’re wanting to buy or rent a house in London but don’t know where to start looking, we’ve written an article about the cheapest and up-and-coming areas in London, so be sure to check it out!
Cost of living in London
There is no one cost of living in London, as everyone will live in different places, in a house of differing sizes, and will have different spending habits – there’s no ‘one size fits all’!
To help you get a rough idea of the cost of living in London, we have a few lists of prices of ‘essentials’, such as rental prices, cost of transport, and utilities:
- 1 bedroom flat in City Centre: £1,200+ per month
- 1 bedroom flat outside of centre: £900+ per month
- 3-bedroom flat in City Centre: £2,150+ per month
- 3-bedroom flat outside of Centre: £1,500+ per month
House purchase prices:
- Price per square meter in City Centre: Starts at £10,000
- Price per square meter outside of Centre: Starts at £5,000
Statistics from ‘MoverDB’
Cost of Transport:
- Monthly Travelcard (Zone 1-2): £138
- Monthly Travelcard (Zone 1-4): £200
- London Taxi (per km): £2.30
- 1 litre of petrol: £1.27
- Car insurance (average): £485 per year
Statistics from ‘Salary after tax’
Day to day ‘utilities’:
- ‘Basic’ (includes electric, heating, water, etc) for an 85m2 flat: £175.03 per month
- Internet (unlimited data, 60 mbps or more): £32.06 per month
Statistics from ‘Numbeo’
What salary do you need to live comfortably in London?
Everyone will have a different idea of what ‘comfortable’ is, as we all have different spending habits, so, once again, this answer is only a guide. Taking into account the cost of living in London, the salary one person would need to earn to live comfortably on their own is 40k a year.
If there’s two people, both parties need to earn at least 30k a year, as this would leave you with about £4000 and after covering housing, travel, food shopping, etc, you would have about £1500 to spend on whatever you’d like – whether that’s shopping, going out, travelling abroad or maybe saving too.
If you want to see where your salary would get you in London, this calculator will be a useful guide. It will tell you what sort of standard of living you could have in London compared to other cities and will also tell you what sort of accommodation you could afford to live in.
Pros and cons of living in London
When you decide to live anywhere, it’s a good idea to think about the ‘good and bad bits’ of living in the area. With the cost of living in London being so high, it’s extra important to be sure that the good outweighs the costs.
To help you decide, we’ve got together a list of pros and cons of living in London. It’s important to remember something that we’ve put down as a pro could be something that you see as a con, so if you’re seriously considering living in London, you may want to write your own list too:
- Global attraction – People from all over the world have London on their bucket list, whether that be to visit Big Ben, Houses of Parliament or Buckingham Palace, there’s something for everyone to see. Living in London allows you to be in the heart of everything and you’re never more than a quick tube ride away
- Transport links – This sort of leads on from our last point, whether you’re living in zone 1 or a little further out, London has a great transport system, that can get you from outer London to Covent Garden just by hopping on a few trains
- Worldwide connections – When it comes to travelling, either London Heathrow or London Gatwick airport will be able to get you anywhere. Although Manchester airport also has great links to other countries, you may often find you have to fly from Manchester to Heathrow to be able to visit places like New York or California. Living in and around London allows you quick access to these airports to get you anywhere you want to be
- Great for business and high paying jobs – As we mentioned earlier, London is the financial capital of the world and is also a great place for smaller businesses to build traffic. It also caters to highly paid professions and will generally offer the highest salaries (arguably needed with the high cost of living in London)
- Free healthcare – This is more an advantage of living in the UK as a whole but living in London (or the UK) allows you to benefit from the NHS. Free healthcare is a service that’s offered in few countries in the world and so living in London (or the UK) allows you this privilege
- City life not for everyone – London is a major city and, as we said, it attracts tourists from all over the world. Because of these factors one thing London will always be is BUSY. A busy city life isn’t for everyone and so living in London could leave you feeling quite overwhelmed
- Parks and open green spaces aren’t well kept – In any city, open green spaces are harder to come by and London is no different. Another added downside is that Brits and tourists don’t appear to be as litter conscious as other parts of the world, leaving the few parks that are available in London looking a little worse for wear – which isn’t the most ideal when you’re going for a family picnic…
- Long commutes – Although London is well connected by its great transport system, if you opt to live outside the centre you will find commute times will increase. Some commutes can take over an hour, just for a one-way journey, meaning you will be spending more money on transport, just to get into work
- Dining out – In London, it’s very hard to find yourself a ‘cheap meal’, unless you’re happy to settle for a kebab or fish and chips. You will pay around £30 for a ‘mid-range’ meal and drink, with the price increasing drastically if you go to slightly fancier restaurants. This is just another added cost of living in London compared to other areas and cities
- Expensive – The whole point we have made throughout is the expense and cost of living in London – you will know by now it’s not cheap. As we said earlier, London has the 3rd highest property prices in the world, and the expensive cost of living doesn’t stop there, with food shopping, eating out, etc all costing MUCH more in London
On the note of comparing London to other areas, our next section compares the housing, food shopping and restaurant cost of living in London compared to other cities across both the UK and the globe…
How expensive is London compared to other cities?
So, by now we know the cost of living in London is high, but we don’t know how this fares compared to other cities – is it just a case of all cities being expensive, not just London?
Well let’s find out…
Here is how London rent compared to other cities around the world:
|55.68% less than London
|41.73% more than London
|5.48% less than London
|42.35% less than London
|5.52% less than London
|40.01% less than London
|3.97% more than London
Statistics from Numbeo
Here is how food shopping in London compares to other cities around the world:
|40.96% more than London
|6.96% more than London
|25.51% more than London
|21.26% more than London
|About the same
Statistics from Numbeo
Here is how restaurants in London compares to other cities around the world:
|8.58% more than London
|36.14% less than London
|23.08% less than London
|15.63% less than London
|39.39% less than London
Statistics from Numbeo
What do you think about the cost of living in London? Does it outweigh the pros of living there? Whether you have another question about the cost of living in London or want to have a go at writing an article like this, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
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Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You’ll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in. Read more about Millie here.