The average living costs in the UK for expats: 2020 edition

Moving to the UK forever, or even just for a while? We’ve set out the average living costs in the UK for expats to give you a realistic picture of your possible expenses in that country.

Xe Consumer UK

2020年11月20日15 min read

Expat living in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to a large number of expats (about 200,000 American expats, for example). So, if you’re planning to relocate to the UK for lifestyle, business, work, or family reasons, the country offers you a unique expat experience - whether you want to move to the UK for keeps, or you arrive for just a short period of time.

If you’ve already figured out the city or town in which you’ll be staying, you’re good to go.

But what if you haven’t? Have you thought about how much you’ll need to spend on groceries, healthcare, rent, and transportation? And if you’re a parent, do you know how much your child’s education can cost in the UK?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Relax.

We know that living in the UK as an expat can be challenging. That’s why we’ve set out the average living costs in the UK, and how much you can get by on as an expat there, so that you get a realistic picture of your possible expenses.

In short, we’ve done your homework for you, considering the cost of living in the UK in 3 cities - London, Oxford, and Bristol, and comparing these costs against those in the whole country. Check up on this quick and easy guide!

How expensive is the UK compared to the US, Australia, Canada, and India?

In the UK, the official currency is the British pound sterling (GBP/£). You can use Xe’s free Currency Converter tool to check the exact value of your money in GBP, but we’ve added a rough guide for your information below.

  • $1,000 USD= £758 GBP

  • $1,000 AUD= £551 GBP

  • $1,000 CAD= £577 GBP

  • 1,000 INR= £10 GBP

*Rates were taken on November 14, 2020 at 4:30 pm IST on Xe.com

How much for basic living expenses?

Living in the UK

  • 1-bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent) - £1,262 GBP

  • 3-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant - £50 GBP

  • Monthly transportation pass - £96 GBP

  • Healthcare expenses (private doctor) - £81 GBP

Living in the US

  • 1-bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent) - £1,175 GBP

  • 3-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant - £42 GBP

  • Monthly transportation pass - £59 GBP

  • Healthcare expenses (private doctor) - £84 GBP

Living in Australia

  • 1-bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent) - £1,027 GBP

  • 3-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant - £50 GBP

  • Monthly transportation pass - £80 GBP

  • Healthcare expenses (private doctor) - £39 GBP

Living in Canada

  • 1-bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent) - £987 GBP

  • 3-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant - £40 GBP

  • Monthly transportation pass - £68 GBP

  • Healthcare expenses (private doctor) - £44 GBP

Living in India

  • 1-bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent) - £128 GBP

  • 3-course meal for 2 people at a mid-range restaurant - £8 GBP

  • Monthly transportation pass - £7 GBP

  • Healthcare expenses (private doctor) - £9 GBP

What are the average living costs in the UK (without rent)?

Apart from being a global financial hub and the UK’s capital, London is the largest city in the United Kingdom. No wonder it’s one of the world’s costliest places to live in!

Not only rents, but day-to-day expenses in London and other large cities in the UK also tend to be higher than in smaller towns and villages.

The average costs of living in London (without rent)

  • 1 person (per month) - £837 GBP

  • 1 person (per year) - £10,044 GBP

  • 4-member family (per month) - £2,972 GBP

  • 4-member family (per year) - £35,664 GBP

  • University student (per month) - £556 GBP

The average costs of living in Oxford (without rent)

  • 1 person (per month) - £661 GBP

  • 1 person (per year) - £7,932 GBP

  • 4-member family (per month) - £2,353 GBP

  • 4-member family (per year) - £28,236 GBP

  • University student (per month) - £520 GBP

The average costs of living in Bristol (without rent)

  • 1 person (per month) - £703 GBP

  • 1 person (per year) - £8,436 GBP

  • 4-member family (per month) - £2,397 GBP

  • 4-member family (per year) - £28,764 GBP

  • University student (per month) - £400 GBP

What are the average annual salaries in the UK?

Your salary will depend on the UK region you live in, like North West England and West Midlands. Typically, you’ll see a decline in the salary range as you move farther away from London and South East England.

We’ve added a run-down of common jobs in London and Oxford, and their respective average salaries per year.

  • Copywriter

    • Average annual salary in London - £29,195 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £28,000 GBP

  • Graphic designer

    • Average annual salary in London - £28,661 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £30,943 GBP

  • Product manager

    • Average annual salary in London - £55,000 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £50,319 GBP

  • Software engineer

    • Average annual salary in London - £50,250 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £37,542 GBP

  • Web developer

    • Average annual salary in London - £40,019 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £32,705 GBP

  • Teacher

    • Average annual salary in London - £31,004 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £36,510 GBP

  • Financial analyst

    • Average annual salary in London - £40,945 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £39,675 GBP

  • Mobile developer

    • Average annual salary in London - £50,047 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £75,000 GBP

  • Cashier

    • Average annual salary in London - £19,064 GBP

    • Average annual salary in Oxford - £19,937 GBP

How much do you need for spending on food in the UK?

When you calculate your potential expenses as an expat in the UK, never forget to take into account the most basic thing - food!

Start estimating your weekly and monthly budget for food, including groceries, so that you still have enough to spend on your rent and other essential stuff like healthcare.

Here’s a breakdown of the average amount you’ll have to spend on some specific food items in the UK:

  • Whole fat milk (1 liter): £0.78 GBP

  • Local cheese (2 lb): £4.07 GBP - £5.59 GBP

  • Potatoes (2 lb): £0.91 GBP - £1.16 GBP

  • Tomatoes (2 lb): £2.08 GBP - £1.79 GBP

  • Onions (2 lb): £0.99 GBP

  • Lettuce (1 head): £0.74 GBP

  • 12 eggs: £1.95 GBP - £2.46 GBP

  • Rice (2 lb): £1.02 GBP

  • Fresh white bread (1 lb): £0.98 GBP

  • Boneless chicken breast (1 lb): £3.32 GBP-£5.65 GBP

  • Round beef (2 lb): £7.73 GBP

  • Apples (2 lb): £1.81 GBP-£1.90 GBP

  • Oranges (2 lb): £1.68 GBP

  • Bananas (2 lb): £1.11 GBP

  • Good-quality red wine (1 bottle): £7 GBP

  • Domestic beer (0.5 liter): £1.68 GBP - £1.75 GBP

  • Imported beer (0.33 liter): £1.98 GBP

  • Pepsi/Coke (0.33 liter): £1.74 GBP

  • Cappuccino (Starbucks, Costa Coffee, and other similar brands): £2.60 GBP

  • Bottled water (1.5 liters): £0.95 GBP

  • Meal at a cheap restaurant: £12 GBP

  • 3-course restaurant meal (mid-range): £50 GBP (for 2 people)

What are the housing and accommodation costs in 2020?

Many places in the UK fall short of affordable housing opportunities, especially in the densely populated South East England.

This means that rental prices in cities like London and Surrey are sky-high.

Average renting costs in the UK

  • 1-bedroom flat (city centre) - £1,262 GBP (monthly)

  • 1-bedroom flat (outside the city centre) - £1,037 GBP (monthly)

  • 3-bedrom flat (city centre) - £1,985 GBP (monthly)

  • 3-bedroom flat (outside the city centre) - £1,239 GBP (monthly)

  • Internet (8Mbps) - £22 GBP (monthly)

  • 40-inch flat-screen TV - £327 GBP

  • Cleaning help - £12 GBP (hourly)

  • Basic utilities (electricity, water, heating, gas, etc.) - £98 GBP - £159 GBP (monthly)

Average renting costs in London

  • 1-bedroom flat (city centre) - £1,790 GBP (monthly)

  • 1-bedroom flat (outside the city centre) - £1,267 GBP (monthly)

  • 3-bedrom flat (city centre) - £2,729 GBP (monthly)

  • 3-bedroom flat (outside the city centre) - £1,877 GBP (monthly)

  • Internet (8Mbps) - £24 GBP (monthly)

  • 40-inch flat-screen TV - £316 GBP

  • Cleaning help - £13 GBP (hourly)

  • Basic utilities (electricity, water, heating, gas, etc.) - £100 GBP - £171 GBP (monthly)

Average renting costs in Oxford

  • 1-bedroom flat (city centre) - £1,148 GBP (monthly)

  • 1-bedroom flat (outside the city centre) - £929 GBP (monthly)

  • 3-bedrom flat (city centre) - £1,836 GBP (monthly)

  • 3-bedroom flat (outside the city centre) - £1,426 GBP (monthly)

  • Internet (8Mbps) - £23 GBP (monthly)

  • 40-inch flat-screen TV - £376 GBP

  • Cleaning help - £13 GBP (hourly)

  • Basic utilities (electricity, water, heating, gas, etc.) - £72 GBP-£113 GBP (monthly)

Average renting costs in Bristol

  • 1-bedroom flat (city centre) - £1,126 GBP (monthly)

  • 1-bedroom flat (outside the city centre) - £824 GBP (monthly)

  • 3-bedrom flat (city centre) - £1,668 GBP (monthly)

  • 3-bedroom flat (outside the city centre) - £1,076 GBP (monthly)

  • Internet (8Mbps) - £25 GBP (monthly)

  • 40-inch flat-screen TV - £349 GBP

  • Cleaning help - £11 GBP (hourly)

  • Basic utilities (electricity, water, heating, gas, etc.) - £236 GBP (monthly)

How expensive is transportation in the UK?

The large cities in the UK have an extensive public transportation network, though the tickets can be on the pricey side.

Of course, you can also get a new car like a Volkswagen Golf, but traveling by car through the UK cities may often be slow, particularly on the M6 (the busiest road in the UK).

Average transportation and vehicle prices in the UK

  • Gasoline (1 liter or ¼ gallon) - £1.21 GBP

  • One-way ticket (local transport) - £2.50 GBP

  • Monthly public transport pass - £96 GBP

  • Taxi tariff (8 km/ 5 miles) - £19 GBP

  • Toyota Corolla Sedan (or a similar new car) - £18,702 GBP

  • Volkswagen Golf (or a similar new car) - £20,099 GBP

Average transportation and vehicle prices in London

  • Gasoline (1 liter or ¼ gallon) - £1.26 GBP

  • One-way ticket (local transport) - £2.80 GBP

  • Monthly public transport pass - £146 GBP

  • Taxi tariff (8 km/ 5 miles) - £26 GBP

  • Toyota Corolla Sedan (or a similar new car) - £22,785 GBP

  • Volkswagen Golf (or a similar new car) - £20,148 GBP

Average transportation and vehicle prices in Oxford

  • Gasoline (1 liter or ¼ gallon) - £1.25 GBP

  • One-way ticket (local transport) - £2.50 GBP

  • Monthly public transport pass - £55 GBP

  • Taxi tariff (8 km/ 5 miles) - £24 GBP

  • Toyota Corolla Sedan (or a similar new car) - £22,742 GBP

  • Volkswagen Golf (or a similar new car) - £22,284 GBP

Average transportation and vehicle prices in Bristol

  • Gasoline (1 liter or ¼ gallon) - £1.16 GBP

  • One-way ticket (local transport) - £2.50 GBP

  • Monthly public transport pass - £66 GBP

  • Taxi tariff (8 km/ 5 miles) - £12 GBP

  • Toyota Corolla Sedan (or a similar new car) - £22,250 GBP

  • Volkswagen Golf (or a similar new car) - £18,807 GBP

How much would you have to spend on clothing and shoes in the UK?

You can focus on spending at high-quality, but affordable stores, like Zara, H&M, Mango, Topshop, Everlane, and other such high-street ones in the UK.

If you’re financially quite comfortable, though, you may find that clothing and accessories on the higher end of the price range are a good fit for you.

Average clothing costs in the UK

  • 1 summer dress (in Zara, H&M, and other high-street stores) - £32 GBP

  • 1 pair of jeans (Levi’s 511, Calvin Klein, or similar) - £68 GBP

  • 1 pair of Nike or Adidas running shoes - £73 GBP

  • 1 pair of men’s leather business shoes - £77 GBP

Average clothing costs in London

  • 1 summer dress (in Zara, H&M, and other high-street stores) - £32 GBP

  • 1 pair of jeans (Levi’s 511, Calvin Klein, or similar) - £70 GBP

  • 1 pair of Nike or Adidas running shoes - £70 GBP

  • 1 pair of men’s leather business shoes - £77 GBP

Average clothing costs in Oxford

  • 1 summer dress (in Zara, H&M, and other high-street stores) - £33 GBP

  • 1 pair of jeans (Levi’s 511, Calvin Klein, or similar) - £68 GBP

  • 1 pair of Nike or Adidas running shoes - £63 GBP

  • 1 pair of men’s leather business shoes - £77 GBP

Average clothing costs in Bristol

  • 1 summer dress (in Zara, H&M, and other high-street stores) - £27 GBP

  • 1 pair of jeans (Levi’s 511, Calvin Klein, or similar) - £67 GBP

  • 1 pair of Nike or Adidas running shoes - £67 GBP

  • 1 pair of men’s leather business shoes - £87 GBP

How much do healthcare and personal care cost in the UK?

Healthcare is free in the UK under the National Health Service (NHS), but not for all. According to the NHS, only those who are “ordinarily resident” in the UK can get free hospital treatment. If you’re living in the UK lawfully, you’ll qualify as an “ordinary resident”.

In case you’re visiting the UK from the European Union (EU) countries, Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, or Liechtenstein, you may have to pay for the NHS’ healthcare services if you don’t produce the required valid healthcare documents.

But if you aren’t a national of any of these countries, you’ll have to pay 150% of the NHS rate for hospital treatment. As an expat, you can also turn to private healthcare facilities if you want.

Average healthcare and personal care costs in the UK

  • Private doctor check-up (15 minutes) - £81 GBP

  • Cold medicine (Tylenol, Coldrex, Frenadol, or other brands) - £3.33 GBP

  • 1 box of 12 antibiotics doses - £9 GBP

  • 1 box of 32 tampons - £3.33 GBP

  • Standard haircut - £13 GBP

  • Hair shampoo (400 ml) - £3.22 GBP

  • Deodorant (50 ml) - £1.57 GBP

  • 1 tube of toothpaste - £1.43 GBP

  • Toilet paper (4 rolls) - £1.83 GBP

Average healthcare and personal care costs in London

  • Private doctor check-up (15 minutes) - £99 GBP

  • Cold medicine (Tylenol, Coldrex, Frenadol, or other brands) - £3.05 GBP

  • 1 box of 12 antibiotics doses - £9 GBP

  • 1 box of 32 tampons - £3.33 GBP

  • Standard haircut - £15 GBP

  • Hair shampoo (400 ml) - £3.83 GBP

  • Deodorant (50 ml) - £1.97 GBP

  • 1 tube of toothpaste - £1.51 GBP

  • Toilet paper (4 rolls) - £1.89 GBP

Average healthcare and personal care costs in Oxford

  • Private doctor check-up (15 minutes) - £103 GBP

  • Cold medicine (Tylenol, Coldrex, Frenadol, or other brands) - £3.31 GBP

  • 1 box of 12 antibiotics doses - £8 GBP

  • 1 box of 32 tampons - £4.10 GBP

  • Standard haircut - £15 GBP

  • Hair shampoo (400 ml) - £2.80 GBP

  • Deodorant (50 ml) - £1.62 GBP

  • 1 tube of toothpaste - £1.82 GBP

  • Toilet paper (4 rolls) - £2.06 GBP

Average healthcare and personal care costs in Bristol

  • Private doctor check-up (15 minutes) - £67 GBP

  • Cold medicine (Tylenol, Coldrex, Frenadol, or other brands) - £2.49 GBP

  • 1 box of 12 antibiotics doses - £8 GBP

  • 1 box of 32 tampons - £3.06 GBP

  • Standard haircut - £12 GBP

  • Hair shampoo (400 ml) - £3.72 GBP

  • Deodorant (50 ml) - £1.53 GBP

  • 1 tube of toothpaste - £1.91 GBP

  • Toilet paper (4 rolls) - £1.98 GBP

What about education?

University of London and Oxford University are among the world-class universities and schools you’ll find in the UK.

But it may be difficult for you to get into a local state school in some places (like Reading School in Berkshire), so you can go with a private education instead.

Right now, students from the UK and the EU usually have to pay £9,250 GBP a year for university study. If you’re from outside the EU, university study can relatively get a lot more expensive.

  • Kindergarten/ preschool fees: £1,039 GBP (monthly)

  • Private day school fees: £14,940 GBP per year (£4,980 GBP per term)

  • Private boarding school fees: £35,289 GBP per year (£11,763 GBP per term)

London

  • University of London: £13,972 GBP - £17,736 GBP (the entire course fees, depending on the course)

  • Imperial College London: £9,250 GBP per year (for UK students) and £33,750 GBP per year (for overseas students)

Oxford

University of Oxford: £9,250 GBP (for first-year UK students, with a maximum of 6% increase per year after the first year) and £26,770 GBP - £37,510 GBP per year (for overseas students)

Bristol

University of Bristol: £9,250 GBP per year (for UK students) and £20,100 GBP per year (for international students)

What are the average entertainment expenses in the UK?

When you set out to live in the UK for an extensive amount of time, you should consider entertainment expenses as well - for you don’t want to get bored. No one would.

You might want to set aside a specific amount every month for restaurant meals, sports, social events, and theatre tickets, among other things.

Average entertainment costs in the UK

  • 2 movie tickets - £20 GBP

  • 2 tickets to the theatre - £110 GBP

  • Monthly gym membership (in business districts) - £38 GBP

  • Tennis court rent - £10 GBP (per hour)

  • 1 packet of Marlboro cigarettes - £11 GBP

Average entertainment costs in London

  • 2 movie tickets - £24 GBP

  • 2 tickets to the theatre - £164 GBP

  • Monthly gym membership (in business districts) - £46 GBP

  • Tennis court rent - £11 GBP (per hour)

  • 1 packet of Marlboro cigarettes - £12 GBP

Average entertainment costs in Oxford

  • 2 movie tickets - £22 GBP

  • 2 tickets to the theatre - £87 GBP

  • Monthly gym membership (in business districts) - £41 GBP

  • Tennis court rent - £13 GBP (per hour)

  • 1 packet of Marlboro cigarettes - £10 GBP

Average entertainment costs in Bristol

  • 2 movie tickets - £19 GBP

  • 2 tickets to the theatre - £83 GBP

  • Monthly gym membership (in business districts) - £28 GBP

  • Tennis court rent - £12 GBP (per hour)

  • 1 packet of Marlboro cigarettes - £10 GBP

Note: All the figures in this article are based on the mid-market exchange rate as of November 14, 2020, at 4:30 pm IST, and may change any time without warning.

Overall?

As you’ve seen in the above figures, the cost of living in large cities in the UK is fairly high, especially in London and Oxford. If you’re flexible, though, about the exact location you want to stay in, you can get by easily without having to throw your money around like confetti.

And after moving to the UK as an expat, you’ll need to transfer money from your bank account in your home country to your bank account in the UK (or vice versa). The Xe app and website will help you make smooth and easy international money transfers, so that no matter what average living costs UK has, you’ll always have enough money with you.

Download the Xe app or sign up for an Xe account today, and here’s to your new life in the UK!