There are some quite dramatic differences in the living costs between Houston, Texas and London, UK.
According to real time comparison website, Expatistan, the cost of living in London is 62% more expensive (as of September 2015) than Houston.
So let’s break that down into a little more detail, and look at the individual aspects of the living costs between the two cities.
This is one area where costs in London may well take your breath away. For example, a 900 square foot furnished accommodation in a well-to-do part of town will cost around £2,500 ($3,826) a month to rent in London, as opposed to an average of $1,973 in Houston.
Thankfully you can dramatically reduce these costs by simply living in a cheaper area of London. London Property Watch provides daily updated average prices for houses and apartments in all areas of London. The cheaper areas to live include Hendon, Mill Hill, Streatham, Muswell Hill and Lewisham.
Mmmm, this is another area where London doesn’t score so well. Here you’ll fork out a princely £127 ($195) per month for a ticket to cover you on public transport (The Tubes and Buses), against a mere $57 in Houston.
Be sure to sign up for an Oyster Card to use the public transport in London. Not only will this ensure you pay the lowest price possible on a daily rate, but they’ll be no need to purchase individual tickets for each journey you make.
Gas is another contentious issue. The US has notoriously low costs for gas (known as petrol in the UK). A litre (1/4 of a gallon) in London currently costs around £1.24 ($1.90) against $0.64 in Houston.
Taxis are very slightly dearer in London, with a 5-mile trip during the day costing around £15 ($22) in London, versus $21 in Houston.
On average, food is around 11% dearer in London, but this depends on whether you’re talking staples from the grocery store or eating in a restaurant. For example, a dozen eggs will cost £3.17 in London ($4.86) against $2.74 in Houston. But 4.5lbs of potatoes will only set you back £1.37 ($2.09) against Houston’s cost of $3.30.
A lunchtime meal in the business district of town will see a bill of about £11 ($17) in London, but only around $12 in Houston. And a Big Mac Meal in the London will cost you around a dollar more than Houston.
Get ready for a shock on the price of Coca-Cola, as a 2-litre bottle in London costs around a dollar more than it does in Houston. But bread, apples and tomatoes all come in a lot cheaper in the London capital city.
Sadly this is another area where London racks up the pounds. A couple of tickets to the movies will cost £23 ($35) in London ($21 in Houston).
And expect your gym membership to be about double the price you’re used to paying. A basic dinner for two will set you back around £31 ($47) against $36 in the US, but tickets to the theatre are around 10% cheaper in London.
Mobile (cell) tariffs are also cheaper, by a dramatic 39%, in London. And no list on entertainment would be complete without comparing the cost of your daily cappuccino – which actually is around the same in both locations.
There’s a reason the Brits love to come to the US to shop, and that’s because clothes are so much cheaper there. For example, a pair of Levi jeans that costs around $49 in the US will set you back over double that in London.
For this reason, stock up on new clothes before you leave home. Or, of course, use this as a reason why you need to pop home a couple of times a year to re-vamp your wardrobe…
Surprisingly, many items in this category are cheaper in London than in Houston. Items like cold care medicines, deodorant and female sanitary items are around 10% – 21% cheaper in London. But on the flip side, toothpaste, shampoo and toilet paper are dearer.
Again, London tops the table here. Basic utility requirements (water, heating and electricity) for a 900 square foot living accommodation will cost around £131.20 ($199.03) in London against $148.47 in Houston.
However, the Internet is cheaper in London, with 10 Mbps, unlimited data and ADSL costing around £21.33 ($32.35) against a Houston price of $44.60.
Monthly disposable salaries
Of course, when comparing the cost of living between London and Houston, it’s necessary to take salaries into consideration. And what this actually boils down to is how much disposable salary do you have left after you’ve paid all your living expenses.
There is a difference between the two cities, but considering how much more expensive it is to live in London as opposed to Houston, this difference is not as great as you’d expect. According to Numbeo, this comes in at around a slightly lower disposable salary in London over Houston of around 9.44%.
There are many ways that you can reduce your living costs in London. Always check that you’re paying the lowest tariff possible for items such as electricity, gas, Internet, mobile phones, credit cards etc.
You can easily check these out on comparison websites such as Money Supermarket, Compare the Market and Confused.com. To be really smart, use one of these to find out the cheapest deal, and then make your actual purchase via a cashback website such as Top Cash Back or Quidco.
Look out for vouchers that give discounts on restaurants throughout the city. Voucher Codes and Groupon are two good websites that provide some really decent discounts, such as two-for-one or 25% off vouchers for many of the best-known chain restaurants around town.
The mere fact that so many people of all ages and abilities are successfully living in London, and with a great quality of life, shows that although the figures on paper might look high – it really is possible to live, work and thrive in London. And if you’re planning on making the move from Houston to London, all it will take is a slight shift in your way of thinking to successfully join them.