The cost of living in London

The cost of living in London

Last update on December 10, 2018
Written by Kelvin

Before you move to the ‘big smoke’ discover more about the cost of living in London, including the price of London accommodation, Oyster card prices, London Underground tickets and more.

Someone emailed me asking me about relocating to London. More precisely, he asked me what was considered a decent relocation package for living in London. From what I understood, he’s currently making a comfortable living back home and is still in two minds about uprooting himself and living halfway across the globe. He’s not the only one to be concerned about the cost of living in London.

I guess some relocate for better pay while others move for a more desirable lifestyle though rarely for both. At the end of the day, we have to be quite clear about why we move in the first place. More importantly, different places may suit our needs at each stage of our lives. It can be interesting to compare the cost of living in London for students, with the cost of living in London for a couple.

Though I hope my replies to him have addressed his concerns, I thought it would be great to list down some of the main costs of living in London in this post and hopefully get some feedback from you.

1. The cost of London accommodation

I read somewhere that it’s common to pay up to a third of your salary on your accommodation. I’m not sure how true that is but it really depends on the individual. In my London Accommodation Guide, I gave a rough estimate on the monthly rental and upkeep to expect for your accommodation.

The usual factors include size (usually in terms of number of bedrooms), proximity to the city and basic amenities and the area (some are more upmarket than others). For a one bedroom flat in Zone 1, be prepared to fork out at least GBP 1200 for the rent alone.

However, if you are negotiating a relocation package and have to look for your own accommodation, request for the firm to put you up somewhere for at least three weeks while you hunt for a more permanent place. Believe me, it takes that long and you won’t want to rush into anything that you might regret later.

2. The cost of transport in London, including Oyster card prices and London Underground tickets

With the recent Tube and bus fare increase to cover London Transport’s ballooning deficit, it’s high time to get a Travelcard, especially those who are doing regular commuting. I gave a breakdown of savings earlier and you could be looking at savings of a couple of hundred pounds annually.

Depending on the extent that you’ll be travelling, set aside at least GBP 4 per day if you are travelling within Zone 1. For more information on travel fares, refer to Transport For London.

More information about the Oyster card can be found here and the London Underground tickets here.

Oyster card prices

3. Cost of food in London

If you’re banking on home-cooked food, it’s really not that expensive to feed yourself in London. Though not to the extent of spending only GBP 1 per day, you can get pretty affordable ‘essential’ range at your local supermarket if you’re not into free range or organic labels. If I have to put a figure on it, a minimum of a fiver per day would be pretty safe.

However, if the kitchen isn’t exactly one of your favourite places in the house, this aspect of living expenses in London could be pricey with a decent meal in a decent restaurant setting you back around GBP 15 without alcohol (head towards London Chow for some suggestions). Else the good ol’ fish and chips takeaway costs around GBP 3. Add a quid more for a kebab at your friendly local kebab stall.

4. UK taxes

When it comes to the saying about only two things being certain in life, tax is certainly the more expensive. That’s especially true in the UK. Even with a 50 percent income tax going to be slapped on those earning more than GBP 150,000 per year in the UK, the tax rate is still cheaper compared to Denmark (59 percent for top bracket) and Netherlands (52 percent for top bracket).

To see how much bread that you will actually be bringing back home, use this online calculator as a guideline.

So there you go, the four main living expenses in London. For more indepth information regarding the cheapest places to live in London and for the cost of living in the UK click here.