So what is the cost of living in England? Salaries are probably higher than in your home country, but so are the costs. Is it true that some people are are living hand to mouth here? … In some cases yes, but most are living just fine. The cost of living in England is quite good compared to wages, although the pound is dropping quite fast since Brexit… We already established in the previous article that food costs in the UK about the same as in countries in East Europe, so from the start you are at an advantage. Let’s see what costs and expenses we have in England:
- Accommodation: by far the biggest expense you will have will be securing a roof over your head. Unless you bring with you around 150 to 200 thousand pounds to buy your own house, you will most likely rent like most people. The rental expense depends a lot on where you are. In general in the South of England (London, Southampton), and especially in London, to rent of a house costs double or triple compared to renting a similar house in the North of England (Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster, Hull, Newcastle). If in the North you can easily find a house of your own at 500-600 pounds per month, in London on the website www.rightmove.co.uk, the only rental house located in a decent area that is less than a thousand pounds per month was in Brentwood (one hour by car or train + subway to central London)
For a private house with its own parking, in a good neighborhood relatively close to the center and work, in the North we pay up to 600 pounds per month, a similar house costs in London at least 1450 per month but there are also one-room studio apartments at 800 pounds per month. To be clear to everyone: Studio means you get out of bed and you’re in the kitchen, don’t understand anything else!
In Birmingham a decent house in a decent area costs about 800 pounds a month, 700-800 in Manchester, and in cities like Liverpool, Leeds or Hull you can find one for as low as 500-600 pounds a month. But that’s not all, as I said in the previous article where we compared life in France with life in England, the UK is one of the few countries in Europe where the local taxes are paid by the tenant, not by the landlord. So besides the prices mentioned earlier you have to remember to add on on top an average of 120 pounds per month, for the so-called “Council tax“.
For a comfortable living and avoid being tight with money, as a general rule wherever you are in the world, the cost of rent (or the monthly payment for mortgage) should not exceed one third of the family’s combined income. So for the North of England we are talking about the possibility to stay in your own house in a good area if you have a monthly NET income in the house of 1800-2400 pounds, which is quite achievable even on jobs with lower salaries.
In London however, without a combined monthly income of at least £ 3,000 in the house, it will be very difficult to live in a private home.
The national minimum wage is 8.72 pounds per hour if you are at least 25 years old (8.20 for ages 21-24, and 6.45 pounds per hour for ages 18-20). So if you land a job with 40 hours per week, you will get a NET salary of around £ 1,300, but keep in mind that it’s pretty hard to land a job that provides you with these hours every week. (UK net salary calculator here).
Wages in the capital are slightly higher, but the pay differencein London is negligible compared to other cities. For example, a retail worker in London takes an extra pound per hour compared to other cities, reaching an average of 1450 net monthly income), so many simply cannot afford to live in their own home and are forced to stay in a share house, especially those who send money home as well.
In such a house you can rent a room for 400-600 pounds per month, you don’t have to worry about local tax (council tax), and the utilities are usually included in the rent as well. The disadvantage is of course that you will have to share common areas such as the kitchen, refrigerator, bathroom, hallway, internet, with up to 9 other rooms. These rooms usually house couples, couples with children, or worse: various specimens from Eastern Europe , Africa or the Middle East. As you can imagine, it’s not really an enviable life.
2.Utilities in the house: electricity + gas + water + TV license = 130 pounds per month. (expect more in the winter). If you have children it’s more than that of course
3.Transport: Option A: A monthly bus/tram pass in any city other than London, costs about 70 pounds, but usually public transport in small towns leaves much to be desired. Buses comes rarely and don’t really get you where you need to be. So if you stay outside London, you will probably have your own car. A car can be found for any budget here. (from 500 pounds upwards). The only expenses you will have will be insurance (about 500 pounds per year for an experienced driver, double for a young driver) and Road Tax – which costs on average 200 pounds per year. That comes to about 58 pounds a month; To this we add gas, at least 60 pounds a month. So we have about £ 120 a month for transport expenses;
Option B: if you live in the London area, and work in London, you have to be a little crazy and rich enough to go to work by car. In addition to horrible traffic, we also have the toll to go through central London (Congestion Charge) which costs 15 pounds per day, and parking costs at least 15-20 pounds per day. So you will probably use public transport, respectively the underground subway, train and bus. The public transport network in London is very extensive and very developed, but at the same time it is very expensive. About the most expensive in Western Europe.
In London, a monthly pass that gives you access to the bus, suburban train and tube network costs depending on how many areas you cross. If you live in the town mentioned above, Brentwood, where the rent is more accessible, you will be in area 9 which is the farthest from central London. If you work in zone 1, which is the city center, the subscription will cost you not less than the fabulous figure of 361.4 pounds per month! If you can afford a more expensive rent or can compromise and stay in a Lebanese and Indian neighborhood that is closer to the city center, such as area 4 around Wembley Stadium, then the monthly subscription will cost you only £ 199.3 per month, fantastic not? For various rates and areas info please see the site here.
4.Phone – at Gifgaff or Lebara, there are SIM cards with 2 or 4 Gb of mobile internet and unlimited calls for 10 Pounds / Month
5.Food and daily expenses: let’s presume you are not eating just canned food and don’t make soup and beans stew to last you for the whole week at home. We go to the supermarket about twice a month and fill the cart with vegetables, meat for the freezer, carton milk, bottled water, some sweets and snacks, some beer to last for 2 weeks and from time to time something for the house. Such a basket costs about 150 pounds, so we are talking of 300 pounds per month for food and daily expenses (as a couple). (10 pounds a day, which is reasonable).
6. Fun and relaxation. Let’s assume that you are not sending all your spare cash home and that you have a social life. This implies you are going out with colleagues or friends once a week to eat and drink something. A meal at a restaurant costs you about 30 pounds per person. Stay for a few more drinks at the pub after, another 15 pounds per person. Once a month you go see a movie with popcorn, that is another 15 pounds per person. So it would be about 200 pounds a month for fun. But let’s just say that you don’t go out every weekend, you limit yourself to every second weekend because you’ll probably be too tired to go out every week. So the entertainment budget has halved and it’s now £ 100 a month.
7. Optionals: subscription to the gym is around 26 pounds / month, cable TV to Romanian TV (satellite or internet) you can get for as low as 10 pounds / month.
8.Kindergarten (aka Nursery): This is where the fun ends. UK England not only has the most expensive trains in Europe, but it also has the most expensive nurseries. The national average to leave your child in full time nursery (50 hours per week) is about 950 pounds per month. But there is also the part time program option (25 hours a week), which costs about 600 pounds per month.
But fortunately there is some support from the government. Couples who can prove that they are both working can qualify under certain conditions to receive 30 free hours per week at authorized kindergartens, paying from pocket only the difference. So let’s say you both working, and you only pay a difference of 150-300 pounds out of pocket. The cost of kindergarten is calculated using a very complicated formula based on voluntary monthly contributions. So let’s say an average of 230 pounds per month.
So what is the cost of living in England per month for a single person?
- Accommodation (room in share house in London or your own house anywhere else): 500 pounds + Council Tax 120 Pounds (does not apply if you rent a room in a share house);… Or studio apartment in London 800 pounds + Council tax 80 pounds ;
- Utilities in the house: electricity + gas + water + TV license = 130 pounds (does not apply if you rent a room in a share house);
- Transport: car insurance + petrol 120 pounds / month or 200 pounds / month subway in London;
- Phone: 10 pounds / month;
- Food and other daily expenses: £ 150;
- Fun and some relaxation: 100 pounds;
- TOTAL EXPENSES: 1100 Pounds (In England) / 960 Pounds in London if you live in a share house / 1440 pounds in London if you live in your own studio apartment
So if you work on a low position in London and earn £ 1,450 / month, if you would live in a room at a share house, you would have £ 490 left to spend or send home. If you earn £ 2000 net salary in London, you would probably be able to afford to live alone in a studio flat. 2000 pounds net income in London, it’s not something extraordinary, but it’s not easy to get either.
In the North of England, on the other hand, if you take home 1,500 pounds / month, you can easily rent your own home without having to depend on public transport, and you will still have around 400 pounds spare cash for spending, set aside or to send home. (add another 100 if you rent a smaller apartment and not at a house)
Let’s see the cost of living in England and expenses that a couple with a small child can expect in England:
- Accommodation: (room in a share house in London or your own house anywhere else): 600 pounds + Council Tax 120 Pounds (does not apply if you rent a room in a share house);… Or studio apartment in London 800 pounds + Council tax 80 pounds ; Or the decent option if you have a child: your own house 1450 pounds + Council tax 120 pounds.
- Utilities in the house: electricity + gas + water + TV license = 150 pounds (does not apply if you rent a room in a share house);
- Transport: car insurance + petrol 120 pounds / month (per car) x 2 = 300 pounds or 200 pounds / month x 2 = 400 pounds monthly pass for subway in London;
- Phone: 10 pounds / month x 2 = 20 pounds / month;
- Food and other daily expenses: 150 pounds x 2 = 300 pounds;
- Fun and other child expenses: £ 200;
- Kindergarten (* with discount if both parents work): 250 pounds
TOTAL EXPENSES for a Couple with small child in UK:
- 1880 Pounds (In England)
- 1770 Pound in London – if you rent a room in a share house;
- 2150 Pounds in London if you rent a studio;
- 2890 pounds in London if you rent your own house in the city (cut around 150 pounds if you rent in an area bordering London)
So as we can see, in the North of England, if both parents work full-time jobs, even on national minimum wage, you would still have at least 2600 pounds net income in the house, and you would still be left with 720 pounds spare cash to set aside, for the house or for vacations, which is not bad at all.
In London, on the other hand, I would not recommend to anyone to stay with a child in a share house or in a studio flat, but I am aware that some people live like that. In the capital where on the lower income jobs, let’s say you would have at least 3000 pounds combined income in the house , assuming both parents work full time. With this money you could still be able to rent a decent house of your own, in an area with good schools, but you would probably be very on a tight budget and you wouldn’t be able to put anything aside for dark days. Not to mention the risk of being evicted if you fall behind on your rent payments due to unforeseen expenses. But we are talking about London, and if one of the parents would earn at least 2000 pounds, and the other 1500, there would be 3500 pounds in the house, and after the expenses there would be about 600 pounds left to put aside, which is not so bad.
What do you think? If I missed any important aspect or child related expense, I apologize but I don’t have kids yet :). Leave me a comment or email and I will add it in the article. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments or message section on the GarciaCalavera.com fb page. If you like the page please drop a like and share the article to help others in this situation.
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