Looking for a rough guide to the cost of living in London? This post was written for The American Resident by Chris Jerome and is a welcome addition to my other references on expat living. As always, if you have any further tips, please jump in and add them in the comments!
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Moving to London can be an exciting prospect, with such an amazing opportunity to enjoy the wealth of entertainment, shopping, touristic sites and culture on offer. However, the daunting cost of London living is often enough to put people off.
This guide will give you an idea of how much it costs to live in London and how you might be able to save money along the way:
Rental prices in London vary greatly depending on the standard of accommodation and location; you should expect to pay much bigger premiums the further central you go.
Single rooms in shared houses or flats can start from around £200 per week. In Chiswick, West London, rooms are between £230-£250 per week, and £112-£210 in Leyton, North East London.
The most expensive rooms are in areas like Chelsea, Paddington, Kensington, Hampstead, Euston, King’s Cross and Fulham, all averaging £251-£290 per week.
On average, studios cost between £850 and £1350 per month, with a one bedroom flat upwards of £800; as with all properties it is worth checking to see if utility bills are included in the rent.
The best value is found in areas like Willesden, Harlesden and Shepherd’s Bush, all within proximity of West Central London and without a huge price premium; here a three bedroom letting will cost £250-£450 per week, compared to neighbouring Hammersmith and Notting Hill, at £539-£750 and £751-£1400 respectively. Other good-value areas include Camberwell, Bethnal Green and Stratford, all at £450-750 per week.
The London Rents Map is a really good way of checking average rental prices across London.
For buyers, it is difficult to find a three bedroomed house within Greater London for less than £200,000. A three bedroom flat can be bought from around £150,000, with proximity to central London again increasing the price, with Clapham closer to £400,000.
For shorter term accommodation, fully serviced accommodation in London can be found for as little as £60.00 per night for a single room or £110.00 for a triple; a similar standard double hotel room, on the other hand, can cost up to £200.00.
The cost of transport in London is very similar to the rest of the UK, with petrol ranging from £1.34-£1.48 per litre for unleaded. Road tax does not vary either, although Londoners driving into the Congestion Charge Zone will have to pay an additional £10 per day.
The Underground is the quickest and most popular mode of transport, but can become congested at peak periods, with charges based on zones and shorter journeys being the most expensive. Buying single fares is expensive, at £4.30, although you can buy monthly travel cards for unlimited travel between a short radius for £160; The Oyster Card system means you can achieve discounts for regular travel.
Alternative modes of transport include over ground rail, although there are very few stations on the network, and red London buses, which also use the Oyster card system, or have a minimum cash payment of £2.30, and monthly passes of around £72.
The cheapest way to move around the capital is undoubtedly by bicycle, with Mayor Boris Johnson’s new network of Barclays blue hire bikes allowing you to pick up and drop off at various locations for only £2 per day.
The price of a pint of lager is often a good way of determining the value-for-money of an area, with the average Greater London price being £3.60, Kensington £4.20 and Camden Town £3.50; compare this to Birkenhead in Merseyside, at £1.90, and it’s quite expensive; although nearby Reading is in a similar ballpark at £3.30.
Eating out can be expensive in London, although you do have access to Britain’s best selection of restaurants. Reasonable main dishes can vary from £8-£25 depending on your choice of eatery and dish. For particularly good value evening meals, try Time Out’s London’s Best Cheap Eats guide.
If you like watching football, London clubs come at a high price premium. Arsenal tickets are around £60, with their cheapest season ticket being a massive £985; you can watch a game at Liverpool, on the other hand, for only £38 a game, or £23.20 in Newcastle. If you want a really cheap London game, try newly promoted Crystal Palace, which offers Premier League football at knock-down prices.
Shopping in London varies depending on your tastes, although prices in most high street retailers will be similar to other areas of the UK. However, with a wealth of high-end and independent fashion boutiques, top-quality markets and well-stocked charity shops, temptation to spend is always there.
Cinema outings are generally fairly priced compared to other areas of the country, and you also have access to some pretty amazing theatre, opera and ballet. For the quality on offer, London provides excellent value-for-money for entertainment.
Fortunately for London tax payers, relative incomes are higher in the capital than other areas of the country. For example, public sector jobs like teaching often include a London Weighting Allowance to cover increased costs of living, ranging between £2500 and £4000 a year.
However, the Evening Standard recently announced that you would need to be earning £38,000 a year to afford to rent on your own in the capital, the equivalent salary of a teaching head of department or private sector middle manager.
With the costs of living in London high, it’s important that you manage your budget and find the best location, accomodation and career to suit your needs.
If you are looking to set up home in London but would like to get to know an area better prior to making a longer-term commitment, Refresh Accommodation can provide you with short-term, fully-serviced accommodation that can make your move as stress-free as possible.
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