Cost of Living in London

London is a notoriously expensive place to live – the city was ranked 19th out of 209 cities analysed in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2018. London is a city full of opportunities but it is important for expats to have a full understanding of the cost of living in relation to the salary they’ll be earning to ensure they budget accordingly. Transport, although very efficient, can also be very costly. Lifestyle, entertainment and shopping, however, can be tailored to accommodate various different tastes and budgets as there are plenty of ways to save money in these areas.

Cost of accommodation in London

The majority of expats living in London tend to rent property rather than purchase a home. The cost of rentals is very high, especially in the more sought-after areas and suburbs. Space is limited in areas close to the city centre but luckily London’s public transport networks are excellent and make commuting easy. This widens accommodation options and expats will find that larger properties with gardens become available the further away from the city centre one gets.

Cost of transportation in London

London has an extensive transportation network. Public transport includes the Tube, buses, trams and taxis. However, getting around can be expensive, especially for those who live in outlying suburbs. The best option for people commuting regularly is to buy a monthly or annual travel card.

There is little need to own a car in London but those that wish to drive should factor in the cost of parking which is costly, especially in central areas. Furthermore, people driving into central London will be subject to paying the congestion charge which was implemented to deter people from driving into the city unnecessarily and causing more traffic.

Cost of education in London

Expats legally resident in the UK are entitled to send their children to a state school at little or no cost. The standard of these schools varies. However, there are plenty of good state schools and this is an option worth exploring, especially for those who plan on settling down in The UK.

Those who wish for their children to continue following the curriculum of their home country will find that London is home to the largest selection of international schools in the UK. Fees at British private schools and international schools are very high and these institutions tend to be oversubscribed. Wherever possible expats should attempt to negotiate an allowance for school fees into their employment package.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in London

London plays host to excellent entertainment facilities – from world-class theatres and music venues to museums and art galleries, there is truly something to suit all tastes. Those who want to try out the most exclusive establishments in the city can expect to pay a small fortune for the privilege. However, those on a tighter budget will also be catered for – there are plenty of places that offer special deals and last-minute offers where one can sample some of the best events at a fraction of the usual prices. When it comes to eating out London has countless options from fine dining at Michelin-starred restaurants to hearty street food.

Cost of living in London

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for October 2018.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

GBP 3,200

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

GBP 2,800

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

GBP 1,800

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

GBP 1,300


Milk (1 litre)

GBP 0.90

Cheese (1kg)


Eggs (dozen)

GBP 2.20

Loaf of white bread 

GBP 1.20

Rice (1kg)

GBP 1.90

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

GBP 11

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

 GBP 6

Coca-Cola (330 ml)   

 GBP 1.20


 GBP 4

Bottle of local beer


Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

GBP 50


Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

GBP 30 

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

GBP 0.15

Basic utilities (per month for small apartment)

GBP 120


Bus/train fare in the city centre

GBP 2.50

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

 GBP 5

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

GBP 1.25 

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