Here at Remitly, we know there’s a lot of information to digest when you’re planning your move to the UK. That’s why we’ve provided detailed guides on everything from filing taxes in the country to the best apps for UK immigrants. If you’re wondering what to expect when it comes to the cost of living in the UK, you’re on the right page.

Let’s look at the main things you may have to budget for when you relocate to the UK.

Housing

Average rental prices in the UK very much depend on which part of the country you’ll be moving to. London, being an epicentre of commerce and culture, and a magnet for people from all over the world, typically comes with a higher price tag.

Recent data compiled by Statista shows that Greater London – the region that includes the UK capital – has an average monthly rent of £1,752. That’s significantly more than the next most expensive region, the South East of England, where the average rent is £1,123. By contrast, the North East of England boasts the cheapest average rent, at £580 per month.

These numbers only provide a general snapshot of the regions, however, regarding the cost of living in the UK. Even a relatively expensive area like London will have its share of properties on the cheaper end of the spectrum. You can use listings sites like Rightmove and SpareRoom to find rooms in shared apartments for £500 or less.

Transport

It’s easy to get around the UK, thanks to the wealth of public transport options. London, for example, is known for its iconic red buses. At the time of writing, a single trip will cost an adult £1.55, though the maximum amount you will pay in a day of bus travel is capped £4.65. It’s also possible to buy a monthly pass for unlimited travel for £84.10, and an annual pass for £876.

Meanwhile, the cost of travelling on the famous London Underground, or Tube, will depend on where you’re going and whether it’s a peak or off-peak time. For example, a single Tube journey from Wanstead, a suburban area in east London, to central London currently costs an adult £2.90 during off-peak hours. As with bus journeys, there are maximum caps on the total you’re liable to pay on a given day, and monthly/annual travel passes are available. You can check the prices for your area in London here.

You may find that public transport in other UK cities is cheaper than in London. For example, in Birmingham, the second biggest city in the UK, a day’s unlimited bus travel during off-peak hours currently costs £4.20 for an adult.

Lifestyle costs

Certain aspects of your budget will be down to your own, individual tastes and requirements. A prime example is how much you’ll spend on food when computing your cost of living in the UK. There are some major supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, and Lidl that can offer low prices for groceries. At Tesco, you can buy a loaf of bread for £0.99 and a 650g pack of chicken breast portions for £3.75 (prices correct at the time of writing).

Similarly, the amount spent on new clothes in a given month will vary widely between individuals. It’s possible to take a 2022 Statista survey on household clothing expenses as a general reference point. The research found that UK respondents aged between 30 and 49 spend on average around £116 per month on clothing and footwear.

If your lifestyle includes going to the gym, the good news is that most towns and cities in the UK will have at least a few options. According to UK government sources, the average gym membership fee is around £40 per month, but many gym chains offer rates that are far lower than this. It’s worth shopping around, looking out for discounted rates and free trial periods for new members.

Medical costs

The UK is renowned for its taxpayer-funded National Health Service, which provides wide-ranging medical care to residents. Depending on your visa, you may have to pay a surcharge in order to be eligible for NHS treatment. This is currently £624 per year for adult non-students and £470 per year for students or those under 18.

Once eligible for the NHS, everything from GP appointments to specialist consultations to hospital treatment is provided for free. Bear in mind, however, that there are usually added costs to pay for dental work and eye tests, and most adults in England do have to pay £9.35 for prescription medication.

While the NHS is sufficient for the majority of UK residents, you do have the option of taking out health insurance. This will cover the costs of private treatment, potentially providing shorter waiting times and more deluxe healthcare settings. According to one recent estimate, the average cost of health insurance is around £1,400 a year, though the exact price tag will depend on your personal circumstances and the kind of cover you’re after. You can shop around for health insurance plans at reputable price comparison sites like Medibroker and ActiveQuote.

Utility bills

There are numerous energy suppliers in the UK, with some of the biggest being British Gas, EDF Energy, and Scottish Power. How much you have to pay for your gas and electricity bills will depend on your consumption, which is measured in kWh. The best value is often provided by fixed tariffs, where the cost per unit of energy stays the same for the whole length of your contract.

According to recent data released by the UK government, the average combined energy bill for British households is around £112 per month. The actual amount you pay will of course depend on the size of your property and energy consumption habits.

You’ll have several options when it comes to broadband and TV packages. Prices will depend on factors like broadband speed and the number of TV channels included in your package. The cost can range from around £22 to upwards of £100 per month, so it’s worth comparing providers carefully. Sites like Confused.com and Compare the Market can help you assess energy, broadband, and TV packages.

Living Costs in the UK

Entertainment and socialising

If you’re sticking to a tight budget, the good news is that there are plenty of affordable places to eat and drink in the UK. The country is world-famous for its pubs, where the average cost of a pint of beer is currently just over £4 (though prices will vary dramatically depending on where you are – similarly as the overall cost of living in the UK). In terms of restaurants, there are certainly plenty of upscale, special-occasion spots with menus where diners spend £100 or more per person. But the overwhelming majority of restaurants won’t present you with hefty bills. You can sit down and enjoy a pizza at a chain restaurant for, say, £13, while many restaurants have set price menus offering three courses for £25 or less.

Keen on the movies? Cinema tickets for adults in the UK can cost from around £6 to £10 or more. Some cinema companies offer passes that let you watch as many movies as you want. For example, the Cineworld chain currently offers a pass from £9.99 per month.

Sending money home

Many immigrants in the UK send money back to friends and family members in their home countries, whether as gifts or as vital financial support. As with most things, it’s important to shop around to find a remittance company that provides a cost-effective service. A prime example is Remitly, which is based entirely online and offers both low transfer fees and highly competitive exchange rates.

Median salaries

The current minimum wage for workers aged 23 and over is £8.91. According to data compiled by the Office for National Statistics, the median annual salary for UK employees in 2021 was £31,285. This means 50% of full-time employees made more than this, and 50% made less.

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This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topics discussed herein. This publication is not a substitute for seeking advice from an applicable specialist or professional. The content in this publication does not constitute legal, tax, or other professional advice from Remitly or any of its affiliates and should not be relied upon as such. While we strive to keep our posts up to date and accurate, we cannot represent, warrant or otherwise guarantee that the content is accurate, complete or up to date.