What Is The Cost of Living in the UK?

07 Jun 2024 - Category: Blog /
uk cost of living

Did you know over one million people migrated to the United Kingdom during 2022-23? The most interesting part is that most of these immigrants moved as families or couples in hopes of better living standards and professional opportunities.

Single students moving for undergraduate or postgraduate at universities in the UK also contributed to the number of immigrants moving to the UK soaring to one million.

Are you looking to move to the UK for studies or career opportunities? Whichever defines you knowing the UK cost of living is a must before you make the move and book that flight to the UK.

Your living costs vary greatly depending on which region and city in the UK you choose to reside in. On average, a family of four can expect the cost to be around £2268.

Meanwhile, a single student can live on £650-£700. Please note that this amount only includes food, utilities, and transportation and does not include rent or living expenses.

Many expats, non-residents and foreigners in the UK are at first awestruck when they come across the living expenses in the UK.

Every year the UK welcomes immigrants from many countries including Poland, India, Pakistan, Ireland, and more. Doing comprehensive research on the cost of living, affordable houses, flats, or properties to rent in the UK is essential. Hopefully, the following guide can help you prepare in the best way.

An Overview Of The UK Cost of Living

The cost of raising a family in the UK is around yearly £50,000 for a couple with two children. This certainly isn't cheap considering the average salary in the UK is around £29,600/year.

Let's have a breakdown of the cost to see if you can find any room for adjustment.

Rent and Housing

Overall, most cities in the UK can provide you with a minimal roof above your head at £1,200. The rent is higher if your house, flat or property is in or closer to the city centre and keeps getting lower as you move further and further away from the city centre.

Bear in mind though, moving further away from the city centre may not 100% translate into an overall decreased cost of living as you might be paying less in rent and more in travelling since most key locations are in or around the city centre.

The good news is, that single people or students can manage with smaller spaces and therefore pay lower rents.

The average house price in the UK is around £2,82,000. So, if you are comparing the cost of renting in the UK vs buying, the latter seems to be the better choice, because the monthly mortgage repayments over 30 years will accumulate significantly much less than the total rent paid over that same duration.

Have trouble comparing the Great British Pound (GBP) to your native currency?

Learn more about the GBP here.

Grocery Shopping

The average grocery cost each month is around £130-£140 for a single person. A family of four will have to pay at least £560/month for groceries.

For more context, a kilogram of chicken costs around £6-7 in the UK. Meanwhile, per kilogram of rice and vegetables cost GBP 1.59-4.77 and GBP 3-3.5 respectively.

However, there are several stores where you can get cheap groceries in the UK. For instance, you can get products that are past their Best Before the date, but still good, at a much-discounted rate from Approved Food. You can also do a little research at Priceable to find out which supermarkets are offering the best deals on groceries.

Transportation Costs

The public transport costs in the UK can be much different for London and other parts. In London, your best option is to buy a Travelcard.

A one-day card that permits travel in zones 1-2 costs around £8 for adults.

With the travel card, you get unlimited travel for that day and within zones 1 and 2 on any public transport of your choice - bus, tram, tube, National Rail Service, etc.

For other cities and parts of the region, the price differs according to their structure. Also, you can always find discount options for kids under 5, students, seniors, and other categories.

Average Utility Bills UK

Singles or small families living in a one-bedroom home have to pay around £55/month for electricity. Bigger homes with five bedrooms pay approximately £100/month.

In the case of gas, the smaller family homes pay around £50, meanwhile, for bigger homes it's £100. The energy costs vary according to season.

For instance, the cold winters require more heating and thus the bills are bigger.

You will pay around £448 annually for water in the UK. This includes both the supply of clean water and sewage costs taking the monthly water bill to £37.

Lastly, broadband internet costs £26.90 per month on average. This can differ depending on your internet speed and service provider.

Top 4 Cities For Living In The UK As An Expat

The average cost of living in London - one of the most popular cities in the UK - is around £2,121- the highest in the region.

For super savers and budget watchers - London may not seem to be the best option when picking affordable houses, flats, or properties for an extended stay.

Rent is much cheaper in the North East at only £700. However, extremely low-cost regions also don’t offer a lot of career opportunities for expats, foreigners, and immigrants moving to the UK.

So, you have to stay in a city that is cheap but thriving enough to provide the educational and occupational opportunities you came to the UK for.

Here are five cities where rent is under £700/month.


It costs about £566 on average to rent a single room in Burnley - a city well-known for its strong manufacturing sector.

UCLan Burnley and Burnley College are two acclaimed institutions that welcome foreign students for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in the UK. Expats and foreigners with the right skills can find jobs in the manufacturing industry if they choose to rent or buy a house or flat in Burnley.


A single person can live in Grimsby with approximately £608 in monthly rent. Moreover, Franklin College and Grimsby Institute & University Center are good options for foreign students.

The sectors Grimsby is focusing on and excelling in are food production and renewable energy.

Meanwhile, initiatives are being taken to boost the town's economy and create more skilled jobs in these sectors.

This might open up opportunities for expats and foreigners with professional expertise in these subjects.


The average rent in Hull is around £612. Foreign students will find the University of Hull very welcoming with its various scholarships and programs for both undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

You can get in touch with the university's international students community to get some ideas. Skilled expats and immigrants can find jobs in Hull's expanding health, pharma, construction, and manufacturing sectors.


The average rent in Middlesbrough is £613. The city is home to Teesside University which offers a range of international student programs for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the UK.

The leading industries in Middlesbrough are Human Health and Social Work. There are many jobs in these sectors that skilled expats and immigrants moving to the UK can look into.

Apart from cheap rent, you can also save money on living costs by enrolling in a student discounts UK program. All you need to do is provide proof of your enrollment in a UK educational institute.

Unidays, Student Beans, and Totum Cards are some of the best discount programs for students in the UK. You can learn more about them here London Student's Guide.

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