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London cost of living

#1 London cost of living
01/02/2006 17:52


Hi Guys I will be moving to London from th US in the next months. I will be making 30K and my wife will be making more or less the same. Here is my question...Will I be really poor? I mean I don't ask for too much but a nice flat, going out sometimes and a vacation avery now and thei achievable? I've never been in London so I don't have a clue..any advice will be appreciated.


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#2 Re: London cost of living
01/02/2006 22:54


Hi I guess you will be fine. For a small flat you will need around 1200£.

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#3 Re: London cost of living
01/02/2006 23:00

30K isn't a great salary - about what you get as a new graduate, or up to a year or so's experience (so what's with the wife, man? I suppose you Americans do sometimes seem to get married rather young).

However, it works out about £1820 a month each after tax, giving you £3600 to play with. You won't need to pay expensive healthcare premiums out of this, although private is available for a little extra if not provided with your employer.

Rents are expensive. Absolute minimum for a 1 bed flat is £600 a month, but working on the rule of thumb of 20-30% of your net salary you could spend up to £1100 or so. This will get you a smallish 1 bed in almost of the best parts of the city, or a 2 bed in some pretty reasonable ones. Have a look at property websites like for a better idea of prices.

Transport is quite expensive but you won't need a car. Budget for £90 a month each.

Gertting away for a break (eg to mainland Europe) is cheap and easy from London.

It will all depend on what sort of quality of life you expect. In strict material terms it will probably not compare too favourably with the US, but London has a lot more to offer. Get used to higher costs, smaller portions, smaller fridges and possibly occupying a position lower down the social scale, in a city with a strange distribution of wealth.

Overall, I would say you will be able to live pretty comfortably, by virtue of living as a couple. You should easily have more than a grand (£1000) left to spunk on meals out etc so should do alright. From (limited) past experience the Americans tend not to live it up / live particularly extravagantly / go to the pub after work frequently anyway so I am even more sure you will be fine.

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#4 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 10:33


I live in an area populated by young professional couples- Islington, try it. just to add a point to what others have already said: rents are quoted exclusive of electricity, gas and council tax rates.

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#5 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 11:07


...unless you live in a mansion block, where you may well have heat and hot water laid on.

Islington isn't a bad recommendation, but there's Islington and Islington... make sure you aim for the decent bit as it also has the most council estates (i.e. "projects") of any borough.

The American expats with whom I used to work tended to favour other areas but there's no need to be a sheep!

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#6 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 11:34


maida vale is very good area to live in; although exceedingly expemsive in parts you should be able to find affordable accommodation.....

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#7 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 13:45

john mcbride

Interesting to hear your take on living costs and lifestyle.

I am graduating (not married) and moving to London from Northern Ireland.

I was attracted by the high salaries - like starting out 30k+ compared to 20k+ elsewhere.

I was rather looking forward to being able to splash out a bit on luxuries - eg 1700 a month (after tax); minus 600 for rent leaves 1100, then, lets say minus 200 a month for bills/tax (i dunno).

I know I have food and drink to come out of the rest but like I enjoy food and drink, so I consider it more as entertainment money than survival money.

R U saying I am gonna be living a pretty hard existence? I mean I know of other people starting out in london @ 26k. Obviously their emplyer expects them to survive on that.

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#8 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 16:39


Hi guys thank you so much for the advise.

I am not planning anything too extravagant ( I guess with 60K total the Beckhams lifestyle will be a tad to much to ask for) just what young couples do normally... I will be working in Holborn..any idea on where I should be looking at as far as renting goes?

Thank u so much guys again I really appreciate...feeling a little bit like fish out of water here....

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#9 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 16:42


you have to account for "breathing in London" tax. every time you step outside your house you will spend at least £50 with nothing to show for is an obscenely expensive city. could be worse though; at least your not moving to Dublin :-)

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#10 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 16:51


Really depends on your expectations John. Rents are the big problem - in most cities you can probably get a reasonable 1 bed flat for £500 a month whereas in London that'll only get you a studio in a sh1tty non-central area. Almost all graduates therefore go for a houseshare, until that fateful day their eyes meet those of another identikit young professional, probably in some dreadful bar in Clapham, things take their course and they end up shacking up together in the 1 bed flat. So best ditch now the idea of a proper pimp palace.

Accommodation matters aside; like you say, 1700 net less 500 rent (decent room, or go to 600-650 for a not so great flat) less say 300 utilities, council tax and travel leaves you 900, which you may strike you as rather little or may strike you as enough to fill your boots. I would say it is enough to live reasonably well, neither going wild nor worrying unduly aboout being able to afford to go out.

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#11 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 16:57


Holborn is quite central and easily reached from quite a few places. Areas of London vary greatly in character so it really depends which (within budget) takes your fancy and making the trade off between rent/niceness of flat and area/travel time.

Holborn is on the Central and Piccadilly tube lines so options could for example include Hammersmith and (rather more suburban) Ealing. Areas N along the Piccadilly and E along the Central will be probably be more of an acquired taste, but may well be cheaper.

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#12 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 17:05


Be careful. We relocated to London from the US 3 years ago and got shocked. The taxes are high, the cost of living is high, and the salaries are low. Healthcare under NHS is a joke - about the same as the free county hospital in the US - basically one step up from the free clinic. No one mentioned property tax. In this country the renter pays the property tax, not the owner. (Great system to ensure the people who own property remain that way. Something to do with the way England was once run under the nobility...remember why we people left in the first place? It's still true for the most part.) Let me put this in perspective. Imagine living in Manhattan on $30k. Could you do it? This is how your life will be here. Examples; groceries prices are higher, clothing is more expensive, tube tickets are outrageous and the service is lousy. Don't get me wrong, we like living here, but we took more than one step down the money ladder. Although in raw numbers my salary was higher here - my spending power was reduced to what it was in 1998 - over 7 years ago. My advice to you is to really understand what you are in for - you will not be doing very much on your income in London. Oh yeah - one other thing; get used to English people asking why on earth you moved from the US to the UK - since everyone here wants to do the opposite!

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#13 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 17:30


Also think north along the Northern and Jubilee Lines (12 min walk from Holborn from Charing Cross to Northern Line, Jubilee Accessible too).

Jubilee Lines: West Hampstead. Vibrant, young professional area. A bit expensive.

Northern Line: Golders Green, Hendon, Colindale - cheaper suburbs, 30 min commute on tube from the centre of town.

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#14 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 18:19

john mcbride

well if london is chepaer than dublin i will have no problems!!

as a stduent i worked in dublin for 15 months, living on 16000 EUROS (11k proper currency) per annum.

AFter tax i got paid 580 EUR every two weeks and spent 400 EUR every calendar month on rent.

I worked off 100 EUR week money on all transport and food etc; and managed to save up for a holiday in the US with friends!

Northern Ireland people can S T R E T C H the pound... well the euro.

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#15 Re: London cost of living
02/02/2006 18:26

john mcbride

oh - but don't think i am that responsible:

60 euros was on essentials like food and transport;

40 euros was on alchohol

not too much though in dublin - 4 to 5 euros a pint :(

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#16 London Areas
02/02/2006 21:10


The areas described as an 'acquired taste' are often the ones people become most passionate about. Oval, Stockwell, Brixton have some great bars and restaurants, are a little cheaper, and have bundles of personality when you get to know them. Just because an area isn't on first sight full of glossy bars packed with equally glossy young professionals, don't dismiss it.... explore it a bit!

Incidentally, I have just moved from London to New York, and have been laughing heartily when natives say New York is expensive and the flats are small... they have no idea how good they have got it.

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#17 Re: London cost of living
03/02/2006 09:47



You would be fine living in London on 30K+ Average UK salary is 25K so obviously you will be fine. I survived more than adequately on 31K spent 700 on rent 120 odd on bills. And tonnes to spend personally...Have fun dont worry about the scare mongers

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#18 Re: London Areas
03/02/2006 10:08


I quite agree, being a S Londoner myself. However, these areas tend not to attract American expats. Most the people who live there are British (of various hues) / African, and Portuguese in the case of Stockwell. I suspect that some may prefer areas that conform to their image of London rather than living in what I call "Londoner's London". I'm not making any judgement on that and would indeed encourage people to look further afield and be less sheep-like.

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#19 Re: London cost of living
03/02/2006 12:15


If you want to meet lots of other US ex-pats, the western central areas (Knightsbridge, South Kensington, Chelsea) etc might be attractive although these are very, very expensive. Holland Park, Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill might also appeal. Regarding the comparison to Dublin, having recently returned from there: other than rent and (possibly) tax, Dublin is more expensive than London for pretty much anything with far less choice and quality (although better general quality of life).

Good luck - and yes the service is appalling.

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#20 history revision
03/02/2006 12:20


I thought the Pilgrim Fathers left England to escape religious persecution, not found a socialist utopia as BKinlondon seems to think. I agree with most of the rest of what BK says though.

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