How Much Do You Need to Earn to Live in London?

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This is what Londoners say... Do you agree?

Cost of Living in London..Is it worth living here?

Sometimes it feels as if all we talk about in London is how expensive it is: a travelcard, your rent, your mate’s rent, a pint, your mate’s pint, a simple dinner, even a quick sandwich in your lunch break… And it’s no exaggeration: London life does cost an arm and a leg as British say. But still  47%  percent of Londoners think that living here is worth the expense.

That’s just one of the nuggets of wisdom that was uncovered from this year’s Time Out City Life Index: the huge, anonymous survey of 15,000 people in 32 different cities. Smashing the British money taboo, TimeOut asked more than 3,000 Londoners how much they earn, plus how much they think they would need to earn to live comfortably in the city.

So, drum roll, please… the average Londoner thinks you need to earn £52,859.67 a year to live your best life in London. But that number varies a lot based on how much you actually earn since a linear increase in your disposable income sometimes creates an exponential increase in cost. People tend to move to a “poshier” neighbourhood, dine out much more and also start planning this long awaited trip to Tulum. Londoners on less than £20,000 think you need £46,571, and those earning more than £100,000 think you need £79,576. So the more Londoners earn, the more they think they need to earn.

Money Earning and Mental Health…Do they correlate?

Not only that, but earning less money can have a genuine impact on your mental health. Nearly 85% of all the Londoners that took part in Time Outs survey said they’d felt happy in the last 24 hours, but among Londoners who earn more than £40,000, that number rose by 3.7%. Meanwhile, 50% of respondents told us they’d felt stressed in the last 24 hours – but that number went up by 5.8% among those who earn less than £20,000. So money might not make you happy, but in a city like London, not earning money will certainly grind you down.


Money brings Love? Well in London maybe yes….

And here’s another finding: Londoners who earn more money have more sex. People with a salary of more than £100,000 have sex 2.4 times a month (or so they claim, we cannot be in everybody’s bedroom), while those earning less than £20,000 get it in 1.6 times a month. Which is silly – because rather than lamenting our measly pay packets, we should really be packing in as much (safe) nookie as possible. Surely there’s no better free activity than that.


Let’s get some more details

As we all know, the city is a hot spot for professionals and artisans and  boasts strong wages. In fact, average wages in London are the highest in the  United Kingdom and are very competitive with any city in Europe. If an  individual is able to find an affordable living space, London might even prove  to be comparatively cheaper than many other urban settings, due to the high
average wages.

Unfortunately, finding an affordable place to live in London  is not easy. The Greater London Authority released a study in 2017 that  demonstrated why property and rental prices were the number one reason London  was so expensive. Outside of housing costs, London also ranks high in terms of  food costs, transportation costs and entertainment costs. Affordability, ultimately, comes down to income  and lifestyle. It makes an enormous difference whether an individual is a student or an established professional. And retirees face different costs than  workers in their 20s and 30s. London is never going to be mistaken for a cheap  city, but expenses are relative depending on personal circumstance.

Average Cost of Living in London

Housing costs are normally one of, if not the, largest expense in any budget. This is particularly true in London, where two-bedroom apartments in the city centre cost a median of £1,780 per month. Things get less expensive as you move away from the financial district, with prices dropping to as low as $1,000 per month.

Food markets and restaurants can be pricey in the city, with milk prices as high as £1 a litter and some cheeses costing £4.50 per pound, which is higher than some other European cities and  lower than others. Cigarettes average £11.00 per pack.

London is home to a huge number of restaurants, both fine-dining and casual. A nice three-course meal might cost between £60 and £80 without alcohol, but you can still grab a cheeseburger combo at McDonald’s for £5. Coffee prices range between £2.25 and £4 for a cappuccino, and the average pint of beer is available for £5.

A monthly pass for public transportation, the most common method of travel in the city, is about £120 for just zones 1-2, which encompasses most of central London. Taxis cost about £2.75 per mile with normal rates.

Tube map presenting the average weekly rent of properties near it
Living in London as a Student

Most students who travel to London for school need to pay a deposit of at least four to six weeks of rent. Student housing is relatively cheap, so £600 to £800 per month is often enough. It is also important to note that students usually have to wait to open a bank account until after they register for college courses. A study by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimated that the average student is able to live modestly for a year with £20,000 in the bank, though £15,000 is feasible. This estimate did not include the costs of tuition, travel or school supplies.

Living in London as a Professional

Professionals have to worry about a slew of costs that most students do not, such as insurance or school for kids. London is the most expensive city in the U.K. to raise a child; bringing up a child to adulthood can cost as much as £300,000, almost one-third of which is attributable to the costs of education. According to recruiting data from Guardian Jobs UK, the average salary in London is approximately £40,000. Of  this, more than one-third goes to cover average housing costs, and more than  half is needed for housing, groceries and transportation.

Living in London as a Job Seeker

London is not an easy place to live without an income, although there are some potential public support programs that ease the burden. As of October 2018, the unemployment rate in London is at about 4.7%. The London Unemployment Fund is available to those who have lost a job and are looking for work, while there are even larger benefits for single mothers. In fact, for many Londoners, the benefits of raising a child without work exceed the potential benefits of working a low-income job and paying for child care.

Those who are unemployed should seek out the closest Jobcentre Plus Office. This organisation provides support, advice and  job-seeking services. Those who have an illness or injury that prevents them  from working should seek out the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Other possible benefits include rent support through the Housing Benefit, a Council Tax Reduction for unemployed and low-income earners, and Access to Work Grants for disabled individuals.

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