Well, you couldn’t get two cities that are more poles apart than London and Sydney. And if you’re moving to the UK capital from down under, then it’s not only the difference in weather that you’re going to have to get used to – because the prices are pretty different too.
London, as most people are aware, is an expensive city in which to live. Often this is somewhat balanced by higher salaries and disposable incomes, but when it comes to comparing Sydney with London, this sadly isn’t the case.
According to crowd sourcing website Numbeo as of October 2015, the average disposable salary in Sydney works out at £2,119 (A$4,541), as opposed to the London average of £1,983 (A$4,248).
And with a few exceptions, you’ll find that most of the basic outgoings are more expensive in London.
So let’s take a look at these in more detail. Figures are taken from the daily updated websites of the above-mentioned Numbeo and Expatistan.
So, the first thing that’s needed wherever you live is a roof over your head. London is notoriously expensive when it comes to both purchasing property and renting.
To rent an apartment in London will cost around 30-50% more than in Sydney. For example, a 1-bed apartment in the centre of London will set you back an average of £1,657 (A$3,550), as opposed to a more palatable £1,128 (A$2,418) in Sydney.
Purchasing your own home sees an even wider gap, with properties in the centre of London commanding prices that are over 150% more than a comparable one in Sydney.
However, don’t think that it’s all doom and gloom in London – because millions of people manage to rent and buy every year, so it can’t be impossible. The government has put many “help to buy’” plans in place to encourage people to get on the housing ladder.
Other options are to move to an area that’s less expensive, such as Mill Hill, Streatham, or Willsden. London Property Watch gives up to the minute average prices of both rental and purchase prices, covering the whole London area.
Basic utility prices (heating, electricity, water, council tax) are around 50% more expensive in London, but before you throw your hands up in horror, remember the climate: you’re going to have to heat your home far more in London than you would in Sydney.
And on the positive side, there are not going to be any air conditioning expenses in London…
One thing to do in London is to ensure that you get the best energy deals possible – and you should check this on a regular basis. It’s easily done using independent website U Switch, or one of the many comparison websites such as Compare The Market or Money Saving Expert.
Happily, broadband costs in London are far cheaper than Sydney, by between 30-55%. You’ll also pay far less for a prepaid mobile tariff – about 50% less.
Moving to London (and indeed anywhere in the UK), you’ll be able to take advantage of free wi-fi practically everywhere – at the Tube stations, in coffee shops, restaurants, and even on the street…
A lot of food is more expensive in the UK capital, with some very strange exceptions.
For instance, you’ll pay around 18% more for milk, but about 30% less for bread in London than you would in Sydney. Chicken and beef command hefty higher prices in London, but when it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables, items such as tomatoes, potatoes, bananas, and lettuce are around 8-30% less in the UK.
You’ll also find bottled water cheaper in London by about 10%.
However, when it comes to eating out, Sydney wins hands down. Restaurant price in London are between 30-60% more, but a little insider tip will help here…
Register with discount sites such as Voucher Codes and Groupon to get some amazing deals at all kinds of restaurants. And if you’re planning at eating at one of the many chain restaurants such as Prezzo, Pizza Express, Ask Italian, etc., then check out their websites for any deals available.
Nine times out of ten they’ll be something, such as 2 for 1, 25% off, a free dessert, etc.
Using public transport in London is, again, way more expensive than Sydney. A month’s pass to cover the underground trains and buses will cost around £130 (A$278) against the Sydney equivalent of £75 (A$160) – around 75% more expensive.
Taxis are also dearer in London, by around 35%, and if you’re planning on driving a car, then get ready for petrol prices of a whopping 77% more in London…
But the good thing is, the public transport in London is so extensive that it really isn’t necessary to own or drive a car. In fact, most Londoners don’t bother.
This is one area that London fares somewhat better in, with items such as deodorant being nearly 50% cheaper. Over the counter medications also cost less than in Sydney by around 8%. Shampoo and toilet paper are a little more expensive though – by 25-28%.
For those of you who love going to the movies, you’ll balk a little at the price of tickets in London – they’ll set you back around 25% more here.
However, thanks to the Cineworld Unlimited Card, there’s a great way around this. Simply sign up to their monthly pay card, and for a paltry £16.90 per month (£19.90 if you want to include the London West End cinemas), you can see as many movies as you like.
It’s a great deal, and you only need see a minimum of two films per month for it to pay for itself. Any more than that, and you’re quids in…
Going to the theatre is also more expensive in London if you purchase tickets at face value (by around 28%), but the savvy Londoner knows that to get a great deal, head to TKTS in Leicester Square for hugely discounted theatre tickets for that day.
Arrive early (it opens at 10:00 each morning – 11:00 on Sunday) as the best tickets for the top shows go fast.
As you can see – yes, London is a lot more expensive that Sydney, but with a little bit of knowledge, it really is possible to bring cost of living costs down to affordable levels.