Getting into a university in the United Kingdom has long been an aspiration for international students due to their world-class, top-notch excellence. There’s...
Thinking of moving to London? Great choice, as it’s a truly fantastic place to live and work.
You’ll be right at the heart of UK life, with stunning architecture and hundreds of years of history right on your doorstep – along with vibrant multicultural communities, a mind-boggling choice of food options and brilliant career opportunities too.
Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to London for good, it’s useful to know a little about how much everything costs there.
In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials you need to know about the average cost of living in London. From housing and travel costs, to currency and exchange rates, plus healthcare, study costs and much more. We'll also point out a smart way to lower the costs of currency exchange with the help of Wise.
So let’s get started.
The official currency in London and the rest of the UK is the Pound Sterling, or GBP.
To get to grips with money in London, and make sure you’re getting good value when you spend, it can help to know about the value of GBP compared to other strong global currencies. Here’s your at-a-glance guide:
- $1000 = £771.81
- €1000 = £911.40
- A$1000 = £556.44
And if you ever want to know the exact worth of your money without having to work it out, simply use an online currency converter. These are quick, easy and reflect up-to-the-minute exchange rates.
On the subject of exchange rates, you’ll need to be careful where you choose to change your money. This is because banks and money exchange services don’t always give you very good rates for converting currencies. Find out more about it here.
If you do want to convert currencies to GBP – or back again – Wise can be a far better option than using banks or money exchange services.
Open a free Borderless, multi-currency account and you can manage dozens of currencies all in one place, with no monthly fees.
All transactions and currency conversions are done at the real exchange rate. This is the true mid-market rate, without the expensive mark-up that banks and other money transfer services tend to add on.
As well as being a money-saving way to manage your cash in London, your Wise account can even make it cheaper to go shopping. This is because you can spend in GBP with your linked Wise debit Mastercard, getting the real exchange rate on every transaction.
How much does it cost to live in London, compared to other capitals around the world? According to the Mercer 2020 Cost of Living Ranking, London is the 19th most expensive global city to live in.¹
Here’s what you can expect to pay on rent, restaurant meals and transport in London compared to other major global cities:
|Comparing basic cost of living
|1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)
|Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)
|Transportation (monthly pass)
|New York, USA⁵
Let’s take a look at how much you can expect to pay per month, outside of rent, when living in London:
|Total living expenses in London²
|1 person, per month (without rent)
|4 person family, per month (without rent)
|Utilities, basic, for 85m² apartment
Along with knowing the average costs of living in London, it’s just as important to know how much you can expect to earn.
Here are a few examples of average salaries in London, to help you give you an idea:
|Salary averages for London⁸
If you’re looking for a place to live in London, here’s a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in rent each month:
|Rental cost in London⁹
|Average monthly cost
In London, as in the rest of the UK, healthcare (including dental care) is free and provided by the National Health Service (NHS) if you’re a UK resident.¹⁰
However, private treatment is available, and non-residents can also access free emergency treatment if they need it during their stay in the UK.
If you’re just visiting the UK or not staying in London for long, make sure you have travel insurance to cover any medical expenses.
One of the best ways to get around in London is via the London Underground, also known as the London Tube. Around 42% of Londoners use the metro or train system to get to work or school. A monthly pass costs from £138.70 to £361.40 depending how many Zones you’ll need to travel through.¹¹
London is home to a number of exceptional quality universities. In fact, it has one of the largest concentrations of higher education institutions in the world.
The major universities are University College London, Imperial College London and King’s College London – ranking at number 16, 25 and 47 respectively on the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities 2020.¹²
Universities are not free in the UK. Tuition fees for UK students start at £9,000 a year, while international students can expect to pay around £13,000 a year.¹³
However, some high-ranking universities may charge more. For example, the tuition fee for UK students at University College London is £9,250 a year.¹⁴ This rises to £31,200 a year for overseas students.¹⁵
The cost of living in London isn’t low by anyone’s standards, but the rewards of living and working in such a thriving global capital can be well worth it.
But as some things in London can be expensive, it’s crucial to get the most out of your money.
If you have any cash left over at the end of the month and want to send it back home, the cheapest way to do it is with Wise.
With a Wise multi-currency account, you can send money internationally from London with super low fees and the real exchange rate.
This can help you save money every time you need to send money to friends and family abroad.
- Mercer’s 2020 cost of living rankings
- Numbeo - cost of living in London
- Numbeo - cost of living in Manchester
- Numbeo - cost of living in Berlin
- Numbeo - cost of living in New York
- Numbeo - cost of living in Sydney
- Numbeo - cost of living in Dubai
- Teleport - salaries in London
- Teleport - cost of living in London
- Visit London - healthcare in the UK
- Top Tip London - London underground tickets
- Shanghai ranking of world universities
- Study in London - tuition fees at London universities
- UCL - UK students’ fees
- UCL - Overseas students’ fees
All sources checked on October 9, 2020
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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