London certainly doesn’t rank highly on the cheapest places to live in the world, but then, the salaries are often higher than other areas of the UK (and the world).
Plus, we all know that some of the most desirable employment positions are to be found here, as well as the city being an excellent place to study, offering a superb quality of life.
So, if you’re planning on moving to the UK from the USA, what are the differences you can expect when it comes to the cost of living?
London is globally known for having some of the highest accommodation prices, but when you compare this to those in New York, they actually don’t look so bad. However, it’s necessary to take all aspects (and areas) into consideration when we compare the cost of living in London to that in the US.
When it comes to renting a property, the average cost of a centrally located 1-bedroom apartment (or flat, as they’re known as in the UK) is around 3.35% higher in London (£692.36 against £669.89). Not too much of a difference there then, you might think – but if you choose to look at a similar property outside of the city (but still in a commutable distance), the difference increases to around 11.74% (£523.50 in the US as opposed to £584.97 in London).
Here we see some pretty significant differences between the two countries, with London being much more expensive. A monthly pass using public transport within London is around 40% more expensive than the US, at £60 per month versus £42.85. Taxis will also cost more by a whopping 41.59%.
When we look at petrol prices (gas), then be prepared for an eye-watering 136.74% higher price than you’re used to – as a litre will set you back £1.17 in London as opposed to £0.49 in the US.
Petrol varies in price from area to area, and even street to street in London. Find the cheapest price closest to you on the Petrol Prices website, which is updated daily to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
Looking at the basics – gas, electricity, water, etc. – and considering a basic 85 square metre apartment, once again London tops the expense charts. Here you can expect to pay almost 40% higher prices than the USA (£144.64 per month against £103.88).
Mobile/Cell phone tarrifs are also higher in London by 13.75%. However, the cost of Internet is a whopping 38.21% cheaper in London than the US.
This is a more complicated area, as in many cases, the UK is cheaper than the US when it comes to grocery shopping. For example, a loaf of bread is around 40% cheaper in London, basic fruit and vegetables (apples, oranges, potatoes, tomatoes) come in around 30% cheaper, and rice also costs less.
But food such as chicken breasts will cost you about 17% more, eggs weigh in at approximately 25% more, and milk by a huge 38.95%!
Eating out in London and the UK is an area that sees significantly higher prices than the US, by around 36.53%.
Even going to McDonalds is more expensive – expect to shell out around £5.00 for a combo meal against the US equivalent that costs about £4.45. Happily though, your daily cappuccino costs less in London by around 2%.
It’s also going to cost you more to keep fit. Average gym memberships cost around 36.22% more in London. However, there’s been a rise in popularity and availability of some cheaper, 24-hour gyms, such as Fitness For Less and The Gym.
These are low-staff, low cost outfits that tend to be open 24/7, with members getting a swipe pass to enter. For the ultra low price, you do away with such niceties as reception staff or regular updates from fitness experts, but the popularity of such gyms is enormous, and you even get some that run fitness classes as well.
Going to the movies is also a more expensive night out than in the US, with a seat costing around £9.00, as opposed to a mere £6.59. However, if you’re an avid movie goer, it’s possible to drastically reduce that cost by getting one of the big chain unlimited cards, such as that by Cineworld, where, for a flat fee of £16.90 per month, you can go and see as many movies as you wish.
Now of course, these cost of living prices will vary somewhat depending on where you live in the US. For example, it’s far more expensive to live in New York than it is in other areas, but when it comes down to it, the figures show that living in London is more expensive than the US.
Of course, we’re not looking at the quality of goods and/or services – we are only looking at the cost – and this is definitely a variable that is difficult to quantify.
For example, you might purchase a product – say a jacket – that costs 25% more in London than it would in the US, but if the quality is higher and it lasts double the amount of time, then it actually isn’t more expensive.
Another difficult to judge area is health. In London you have the National Health Service, which covers the cost of healthcare (unless one chooses to pay for it privately). Education is another field that is complicated, as it depends whether you decide to send your children to a state-run or private school.
In general, the above-mentioned figures show that when comparing the two countries, the UK (and London in particular) comes out as a slightly more expensive place to live than the US by around 10%, when we look at the aspects that we can easily take into consideration.