How much does it cost to live in the UK?

housing money pounds
Photo by flickr/59937401@N07

Is it really more expensive to live in the UK than in Spain, France or Slovenia? How much money do I need to be okay for a few months?

These are some of the typical questions I get, so I’m going to try to list the basic expenses in Bristol at the lower end of the spectrum, sharing a house with three more people:

  • RENT: The average rent in Bristol is between £350 and £450 a month for a double room in a shared house, £550/650 in London.
  • COUNCIL TAX: tends to be around £1300 in the lower band, so the more people living in the house/flat, the cheaper. Let’s say there are four of you at home: each one will pay £325 a year.
  • WATER: the same thing. For a house of four people, this would be around £650 a year, or about £15 a month per person.
  • FOOD: this will depend on each person’s needs, but for something between £150 and £200 per month you can live pretty well.
  • ELECTRICITY AND GAS: depending on the house and the people living in it, consumption always varies, but we could estimate something like £30-40 a month per person.
  • INTERNET: around £25-30 per house per month. Sometimes it is included in the rent.
  • MOBILE PHONE: from £10 with giffgaff to £50 with other companies, it all depends on the data rate and other things you may need. The average is £25.
  • BUS PASS: if you use it will be more expensive than it might be back home. It tends to be around £66 a month in Bristol. In London you’re looking at £40 a week for a tube pass.
  • TV LICENSE: the BBC is very good, but you must pay for it. That’s about £146 a year, £3 a month per person in a house share of four people.

With all of these we have all the basic needs covered, parties aside. Therefore, living in city like Bristol would cost £700-800 a month.

The next question is: will any job cover these expenses? Let’s see:

The minimum wage (to date) is £6.70 per hour and the official full workweek is 37.5 hours. Which means a total of £13,065 annual gross = £1,006 net per month.

With all these figures we can say that if you share a house and have a +30 hour work week, you will be able to afford the costs.

Here’s a link that compares prices for Bristol and London:

If you want to check another source, there are more people who have made this calculation: Managing living costs in the UK, updated for 2013/2014. How much should you put into savings?

What do you think of the data? How much money do you spend a month living in the UK?

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