Besides being 3958 miles (6370 km) apart, there are other very large differences between Chicago and London. The cost of living is another one of those differences.
But surprisingly, according to crowd sourcing data website Numbeo, the average wage after tax in both places is pretty similar. In Chicago, the mean take home salary is £2,072 ($3,140) against a London average of £1,989 ($3,015) – a difference of approximately 4%.
Let’s take a look at the other differences in the cost of living between the two cities:
London is the more expensive city by far when it comes to property, with comparable rental prices being between 71-77% higher.
But when it comes to purchasing prices, if you want to buy a property in the UK capital you’ll have to shell out an eye-watering 513-616% more to own your own living accommodation. If you were to buy a central city apartment in Chicago you’d pay an average price of £2,280 ($3,456) per square meter. In London, this rises to £16,342 ($24,769).
When it comes to paying for utilities (oil, gas, electricity, water and council tax), Chicago wins hands down. To run everything you need in an average 85 square meter apartment, the monthly cost will set you back around £76 ($115). In London, expect to pay over 77% more, at approximately £135 ($205) per month.
In the UK it’s essential to ensure that you’re paying the cheapest possible tariff for your utility bills. This is done easily by using one of the various comparison websites such as USwitch or Money Saving Expert.
When it comes to council tax in the UK, there are various different discounts that apply in certain circumstances. These can include being on a low income, claiming benefits, or living on your own.
One thing that is cheaper in London is Internet, with a home connection costing around 17% less here than in Chicago.
Once again, London doesn’t fair too well in this category. For example, a monthly public transport pass here will set you back £130 ($197), against a far more palatable £66 ($100) in Chicago.
Prepare to take a deep breath if you’re used to Chicago taxi prices, because in London you can expect to pay a whopping 91% more than you’re used to. And if you want your taxi to wait for you whilst you nip into a shop, then this rises to an astounding 121% more than it would in the windy city
Petrol (gas) prices will also come as somewhat of a shock. As of October 2015, a litre of petrol in London will set you back £1.16 ($1.76), against Chicago’s £0.54 ($0.82). There’s a reason we all drive small engine cars in London But the price of cars is not so different, with a new car costing around 8% more in the UK than it would in the US.
The price of items that make up your weekly food shop varies widely, depending on what you buy, and London is definitely cheaper in most instances. For example, bread is around 50% cheaper in London, and fruit and vegetables range between 5-25% cheaper. Surprisingly, staples such as milk and eggs are far more expensive in London, with milk costing around 53% more and eggs 18%.
However, when it comes to eating out, you definitely get more bang for your buck in Chicago. An average meal for one, in an inexpensive restaurant in London, will cost around £12 ($18) as opposed to £9 ($14) in Chicago.
And for a three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant, expect to pay a little over 20% more in London than in a similar Chicago eatery. And for McDonald’s fans, it’s bad news for you as well, as prices in London are around 26% higher.
But on the plus side, bottled water in London is about 10% cheaper, and your daily cappuccino will set you back the same price in both cities.
Now, there’s a reason that the Brits love to head to the US for a shopping spree, and it’s all about the price. Clothes and shoes in London are way more expensive than Chicago – by anything from 8-88%! But there are ways around this, as the savvy Londoner knows.
One is to wait until the sales hit the stores – this tends to be late summer and in the period between Christmas and New Year (and for a few weeks after that, although the best of the bargains get snapped up very early).
Another way is to go to one of the retail villages that offer designer labels with prices of up to 60% off. The closest to London is Bicester Village, about an hour outside of London on the M40 motorway.
Sports and Leisure
It’s going to cost you more to keep fit in London than it is in Chicago, with an average monthly gym membership being around 37% more expensive.
But again, there’s ways around this, with running clubs in London offering a cheap and easy way to keep fit and make new friends. Run Club is one such club, as are London City Runners and East London Runners.
If you’re a movie fan, then again, Chicago’s the place to be, as it’ll cost you around £8 ($12) to watch an international release here against a pricy £12 ($18) in London.
So, as you can see from all the above examples, London is the more expensive city in which to live, by around 30% when you take everything into consideration. But hey, there are some major advantages to living in the UK capital, not least that history and tradition is all around you on a daily basis.
After all, where else in the world have you got such wonderful buildings such as The Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and The Houses of Parliament keeping you company on your daily commute to work. Sure, you pay a bit more to live here, but that’s a small price to pay to make this global epicentre your hometown.