If you are moving abroad then knowing roughly what your living expenses in the UK might be is very important. To help make this easier, we’ve compiled a list of expenses you will incur to give you an idea of the cost of living in the UK and what you’ll spend in an average month. Here’s a snapshot of what a healthy monthly budget in the city of London might look like.

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* This article has been updated to reflect prices in 2021

The average cost of living in London and the UK

London rent can be quite expensive, especially as you move towards the heart of the city. However, the UK has a variety of accommodation options which makes it easy to find a place to suit your needs. There are plenty of affordable places outside the city centre where people love to settle.

Many in London choose to split rent with flat mates, if you choose to rent an apartment, the following table will give you a good idea of the average monthly costs.

Rent

Property type Average price range per month* (GBP)

One-bedroom apartment, city centre

1,300 – 2,500 

One-bedroom apartment, outside city

1,000 – 1,600

Three-bedroom apartment, city centre

2,300 – 4,500 

Three-bedroom apartment, outside city

1,700 – 2,800

*Source: Valuation Office Agency – Lettings Information Database, Office for National Statistics

Purchasing property in London

If you would rather buy, these are the prices* you can expect to pay per square metre:

Location

Average cost per square metre (GBP)

Average price range per square metre (GBP)

City centre

10,912

8,000 – 14,000 

Outside city

5,576

4,700 – 7,500

*Source: Numbeo

Read our guide if you need help with choosing the right UK accommodation

Average food cost per month UK

London has a fantastic range of supermarkets, restaurants, pubs and eateries to explore. The cuisine options are endless which may be why it’s been named the food capital of the world. These are some of the prices you can expect when shopping or dining out in London.

Restaurant type or item

Average cost (GBP)

Average price range (GBP)

Average pub meal 

10

8 - 12

Main meal at a mid-range restaurant

20

5 - 25

Average meal for two in mid-priced restaurant

50

5 – 60

Pint of beer

6

4- 8

Groceries

You can’t eat out for every meal — as much as you might want to. We’ve worked out the average cost of your staple grocery shop below.

Grocery item

Average price (GBP)

Average price range (GBP)

 Average weekly grocery bill
 60  50-70

Loaf of white bread

1

0.56 - 1.65

Milk (1L)

0.91

0.50 - 1.2

Eggs (12)

1.92

1 - 3

White rice (1kg)

0.98

0.45 - 2

Cheese (1kg)

5.61

2.50 - 13

Chicken fillets (1kg)

5.72

3 - 9

Beef (1kg)

7.54

4 - 12.35

Apples (1kg)

1.81

1 - 3

Banana (1kg)

1.13

0.74 - 2.79

Oranges (1kg)

1.73

0.99 - 3

Tomato (1kg)

1.81

0.88 - 3.31

Potato (1kg)

1.19

0.50 - 2

Onion (1kg)

1

0.60 - 2

Lettuce (head)

0.74

0.50 - 1

Water (1.5L bottle)

0.96

0.40 - 1.5

Wine (mid-range bottle)

7

5 - 10

Local beer (500ml bottle)

1.73

1 - 3

Box of 20 cigarettes (Marlboro)

11

9.50 - 12.50

Public transportation costs in the UK

Public transport is a popular and efficient way to get around the UK. You’ll have to use it when exploring, house-hunting, job-searching or travelling to and from work. These are the costs you can expect to pay for public transport:

Transportation type/item

Average price (GBP)

Average price range (GBP)

One-way ticket (local transport)

2.50

1.70 - 4

Monthly pass (regular price)

65

49 - 150

Taxi start (normal tariff)

3

1.80 - 4.50

Taxi 1km (normal tariff)

1.24

0.75 - 2.90

Taxi 1hr waiting (normal tariff)

17.40

9 - 36

Gasoline (1L)

1.27

1.17 - 1.36

Cost of London entertainment

As a cultural and business center, London has an incredible range of choices for entertainment. Here are a few of the most popular options for a night out:

Entertainment type

Average price (GBP)

Average price range (GBP)

Movie

12.50

10 - 15

West End Theatre show

25

25+

Club/pub entrance fee

25

10 - 40

Live music/concerts

15

15+

Sports and fitness

A healthy lifestyle can help you feel great mentally and physically when dealing with the stress of settling into a new country. In the summer, there are many parks and open spaces for exercising, but a fitness club membership is useful for the winter months and getting access to more equipment.

Membership type

Average price per month (GBP)

Average price range per month (GBP)

Fitness club/gym (1 adult)

30.37

16 - 50

Tipping in London and the UK

Waitrons are generally paid minimum wage, with much of their income coming from tips. If you eat in a British restaurant, a tip of at least 10% is seen as standard, unless the service was unsatisfactory. Some restaurants include a service charge on the bill, especially with larger dining groups, in which case leaving a tip is unnecessary. There is no need to leave a tip if you’ve simply had a pint poured at a pub, but the 10% recommendation stands at more upmarket cocktail bars. It is standard to tip hairdressers assistants if you are especially pleased with their service.

Money and budgeting tips for London

London is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world. For an average day, we recommend you budget at least £50. A bit of sightseeing or a night out could easily add £30 to this. Outside of London, costs do drop quite quickly, especially if you have a transport pass and are able to cook your own meals. For transport, get an Oyster card and use busses where you can as they are usually less expensive. You can also cut grocery costs by going to discounted supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi rather than the more expensive Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.


If you are planning on moving to the UK, we can help. Our 1st Contact relocation packages include accommodation assistance, UK bank account set up, assistance with your NI number and more. Give us a call on +44 (0) 20 7759 7536 or email 1stcontact@sableinternational.com.

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