Average cost of living in the UK

How much does it cost to live in the UK? And is it affordable?
 
Andrew Fennell Andrew Fennell | January 2022

Living and working in the UK has plenty attractive features, from ample job opportunities to earn money, and vibrant cities and towns to spend leisure time.

But just how much does it cost to live in the UK in 2022? And can most of us afford it?

We’ve taken all of the latest data available from across the internet to record and analyse the true cost of living in the UK, and whether or not it is affordable for the average working person.

 

 

Key UK living cost statistics

  • The average cost of living for a household in the UK is £3, 073 per month in 2022
  • The average living cost for a single person in the UK is £2,005 per month
  • The average cost of renting a home in the UK is £755 per month
  • London has the highest average monthly rent costs at £1,425 – almost double the UK average
  • The average family spend 93% of their combined income on living expenses and are left with £223.04 of disposable income every month
  • Winchester is the most expensive city to live, and Derry is the most affordable
  • The average single key worker is left with a debt of £48.04 after paying their essential bills each month

 

Cost of living in the UK 2022

  • The average cost of living for a household in the UK including housing is £3, 073 per month in 2022

(How is this calculated? We took the ONS average monthly cost figure, but deducted housing costs because they did not include mortgage repayments. We then added the average housing costs from a separate ONS report)

  • The average living cost for a single person in the UK is £2,005 per month
  • The UK is ranked the 19th most expensive country to live in out of 110 globally – Cheaper than Australia and New Zealand, but more expensive than the USA and Canada.

 

Distribution of monthly living costs

Distribution of living costs UK

 

Average living cost by age group

The following table is a collation of findings from the ONS UK household expenditure report, showing how much each age group spends every month without housing costs.

 

Age group Average monthly expenditure (less housing)
Under 30 £984.14
30 to 49 £941.13
50 to 64 £1,176.19
65 to 74 £1,229.20
75 or over £975.02

 

Average rents and mortgage repayments

Whether it comes in the form of rent or mortgage repayments, the money we spend on putting a roof over our head is normally the biggest expense for the average UK resident.

Here’s what we are shelling out on housing costs every month.

  • The average cost of renting a home in the UK is £755 per month, according to the Office for National Statistics data from late 2021.
  • The average monthly mortgage repayment in the UK is £751
  • London has the highest average monthly rent costs at £1,425 – almost double the UK average
  • The North East of England has the lowest monthly rent costs at £500
  • The average house price in the UK is £268,349
  • The average student accommodation rental cost is £421 per month

 

Average rent cost by household type

Rental costs will vary hugely depending on the needs of each renter. The table below shows the average monthly rent for different household types across the UK.

 

Household type Average monthly rent
Single person £674
Couple (no children) £866
Family (2 parents + children) £941

 

Average utility bills UK

The running of a modern household in the UK requires a number of utilities such as energy, water and internet connectivity, which are deemed as essential in 2022.

The average utility bill spend in the UK is £218.50 per month, and is comprised of the following

 

Gas & electricity

According to UK energy regulator Ofgem, the average monthly bill for dual fuel (gas and electricity) is £94.25 as of June 2021.

Gas & electricity costs will vary depending on the size of the home, this table breaks the bills down into house size.

 

Energy bill by house size

House size Monthly energy bill
Small house/flat – 1-2 bedrooms £66
Medium house – 3 bedrooms £97
Large house – 4 bedrooms + £137

 

Water

A study from Water UK found the average water & sewage bill in the UK to be £33.05 per month

 

Telephone & internet

Telecoms regulator Ofcom’s most recent study shows the average broadband bill (providing a landline and internet access) is £44 per month

 

Mobile phone

With mobile phones playing such a large role in daily life, most people would consider them an essential cost. The average mobile bill in the UK is £47.20 per month, which often includes loan repayments for the device.

 

Average cost of commuting in the UK

The daily commute is a necessity for most of the working population, and even with many people shifting to remote work post-pandemic – millions of us are still forking out for work related travel. Here’s what we are spending.

  • According to a study from Lloyds TSB the average commuter spends £66.31 travelling to work each month
  • Commuters in East Anglia spend the most on their travel with an average of £78.93
  • Rail travel into London (from outside Greater London) is the most expensive type of commute with an average cost of £387 per month

 

Average UK council tax

Council tax is an unavoidable cost in the UK and pays for all local services from waste collection to emergency services. Council tax varies depending on the local authority your property sits within and the size of your property.

  • The average UK council tax bill sits at £153.90
  • The most expensive council tax in the UK is £185.50 per month – charged by Nottingham council
  • Westminster charges the lowest council tax at £69 per month

 

Food shopping spend

Food is one of biggest expenses in the UK with the average grocery bill coming to £276 per month. Here’s how it’s broken down.

  • Prepared and processed meats are the items brits are spending the most on, with an average spend of £28
  • Londoners spend the most on food shopping with a monthly spend of £300.57
  • Yorkshire spend the least on their grocery shop with an average shopping bill of £241.23 every month

 

Average food shopping costs UK

 

Average prices of key shopping items

These are the average prices of some of the key items in our grocery shopping bag, according to the ONS of Dec 2021.

 

Grocery item Cost
Loaf of bread £1.07
Pint of milk £0.46
Block of butter £1.78
Dozen eggs £2.20
Pint of beer (from pub or restaurant) £3.86

 

The most expensive towns and cities in the UK

According to Halifax’s affordability index, which compares average house prices against average salaries to discover how easy it is for residents to buy a property, these are the most expensive regions to live in the UK.

 

Town/city Multiple of salary needed to buy a house
Winchester, England 14.0
Oxford, England 12.4
Truro, England 12.1
Bath, England 12.1
Chichester 10.6

 

The most affordable towns and cities in the UK

According to Halifax’s affordability index, these are the most affordable places to live in the UK.

Town/city Multiple of salary needed to buy a house
Derry, Northern Ireland 4.7
Carlisle, England 4.8
Bradford, England 4.8
Stirling, Scotland 5.4
Aberdeen, Scotland 5.4

 

Healthcare

Thanks to the National Health Service (NHS) British citizens do not have to pay towards healthcare or health insurance, meaning the vast majority of Brits pay nothing for healthcare.

For those who do opt to take out a private healthcare plan, the average monthly fee is £96.25.

 

Living costs VS salary

The impact of living costs is relative to the amount of money we are earning. So, are salaries in the UK high enough to cover our living costs? And how much disposable income do we have left after paying our essential bills?

 

Monthly family disposable income

 

How much disposable income do families have?

The table below shows the average UK salary against living costs for families consisting of 2 parents with dependent children.

 

Working situation Average income after tax Living costs Percentage of income spent on bills Disposable income
2 parents full time £4,326.90 £3,073.00 71% £1,253.90
1 parent full time, 1 part time £3,397.76 £3,073.00 90% £324.76
Only one parent working (full time) £2,163.45 £3,073.00 142% -£909.55
Average £3,296.04 £3,073.00 93% £223.04

 

(How is this calculated? We took the average salaries from 2022 ONS data for 30-39 year-olds, deducted taxes, added them according to each working situation, and then subtracted average household living costs)

 

Key takeaways

  • The average family in the UK spends 93% of their household income on living costs and has £223.04 of disposable income left every month.
  • Families with only one working parent are spending 142% of their monthly income on living expenses, leaving them with a shortfall of over £900. This means that they are accruing a debt of £10,914 per year. This figure is likely to get much bigger when debt repayments and interest are added to their living costs and continually snowball over time.

 

How much disposable income do single persons have?

Single people with no dependent children have less expenses; here’s how much disposable cash they have at varying age groups.

 

Age group Average income after tax Living costs percentage of income spent on bills Disposable income
18-21 £1,325.74 £2,005.00 151% -£679.26
22-29 £1,779.59 £2,005.00 113% -£225.41
30-39 £2,163.45 £2,005.00 93% £158.45
Average £1,756.26 £2,005.00 114% -£248.74

 

Key workers disposable income

The term “key worker” gained popularity during the peak of the pandemic lockdowns, with key workers being considered essential to the running of the country.

Here’s how much disposable income the people in those jobs are left with at the end of every month.

 

Single key workers

The table below compares the salaries of key workers to their expenses when living alone with no dependents.

 

Profession Average income after tax Living costs Percentage of income spent on bills Disposable income
Nurse £2,196.94 £2,005.00 91% £191.94
Delivery driver £1,543.46 £2,005.00 130% -£461.54
Teacher £2,130.47 £2,005.00 94% £125.47
Average £1,956.96 £2,005.00 102% -£48.04

 

Key workers with families

The table below compares the salaries of key workers to their expenses when living with a partner and children – assuming both partners contribute an equal amount to living costs.

 

Profession Average income after tax 50% of household costs Percentage of income spent on bills Disposable income
Nurse £2,196.94 £1,536.50 70% £660.44
Delivery driver £1,543.46 £1,536.50 99% £6.96
Teacher £2,130.47 £1,536.50 72% £593.97
Average £1,956.96 £1,536.50 79% £420.46

 

See also: Average graduate salary UKJob interview statisticsJob satisfaction statistics

 

Miscellaneous expenses

On top of our essential living expenses like food and water, there are also a number of expenses that may of us would consider vital for a happy and enjoyable ife.

Here’s what they cost on average.

Activity Average UK cost
Meal out (3 courses for 1 person) £20.90
Cinema ticket £6.75
Gym membership £40 per month

 

Sources

Statista – Cost of buying a home: https://www.statista.com/statistics/809021/average-monthly-costs-of-buying-a-home-by-region-uk/

Money – Should you buy or rent a home: https://www.money.co.uk/mortgages/should-you-rent-or-buy-a-home.htm

Office for National Statistics – Private rental market summary: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/housing/bulletins/privaterentalmarketsummarystatisticsinengland/october2020toseptember2021

Gov.uk – House price index: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-house-price-index-for-october-2021

World data – Comparison of worldwide cost of living: https://www.worlddata.info/cost-of-living.php

Office for National Statistics – Household expenditure by age of household: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/expenditure/datasets/householdexpenditurebyageofhouseholdreferencepersonuktablea9

Office for National Statistics  – English Housing Survey: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/english-housing-survey

Save the Student – National Student Money Survey: – https://www.savethestudent.org/money/student-budgeting/what-do-students-spend-their-money-on.html

Money Advice Service – Average Utility cost study: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/what-is-the-average-cost-of-utility-bills-per-month

Ofcom – UK pricing trends: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0013/222331/Pricing-trends-for-communications-services-in-the-UK.pdf

Octopus Energy – Average energy Bill UK: https://octopus.energy/blog/what-is-the-average-energy-bill-in-the-uk/

The Guardian – Rail fare commute study: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/jan/03/rail-fares-cost-commuters-up-to-14-of-their-income-says-study

Your  Money – British travel study: https://www.yourmoney.com/household-bills/british-workers-spend-492-days-of-their-lives-travelling-to-work/

Property data – Council tax index: https://propertydata.co.uk/council-tax

Money advice service – Household food spend report: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/how-does-your-household-food-spend-compare

Halifax – House price study: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/affordable-uk-cities-london-winchester_uk_61137c99e4b0219665952b39

Brought by Many – Health insurance costs: https://boughtbymany.com/news/article/private-health-insurance-cost-uk/

Nurses.co.uk – Average nurse salary: https://www.nurses.co.uk/blog/a-quick-overview-of-nurses–salaries-in-the-uk-in-2022/#average

Reed – Average teacher salary: https://www.reed.co.uk/average-salary/average-teacher-salary

Talent.com – Average delivery driver salary: https://uk.talent.com/salary?job=delivery+driver

ONS – Inflation and prices: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/timeseries/czoh/mm23

The Sun – Average price of pint of beer: https://www.thesun.co.uk/money/16546927/how-much-pint-of-beer-in-2021/

Big hospitality – Average cost of meal out: https://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Article/2012/05/03/Average-price-of-three-course-meal-breaks-20-barrier

Statista – Average cinema ticket price: https://www.statista.com/statistics/285783/cinema-ticket-prices-average-annual-price-in-the-united-kingdom-uk/

Money advice service – Gym memberships: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/cheap-gym-membership