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United Kingdom (UK) - Cost of Living

The cost of living in the UK has increased in the recent past, with inflation at 2.7% in September 2013, a higher rate than the rest of the European Union. UK food bills increased by 4.3%, and energy increased by 3.4% in the same time period. To ease this period of inflation, the Bank of England has kept the interest rate low, however with the recession officially over, 2014 is likely to see a change to a higher interest rate in order to cap the rising inflation. Cost of living changes year by year based on global issues, economic stability, and desirability of a country.

In recent months inflation has risen slightly due to the recovery after the recession; however instability in Syria, North Korea, and the USA will likely stave off the exponential rise. Conservatives in Parliament will also work to ensure that the UK remains stable, and to avoid a new recession in the coming years. Housing prices dipped through much of 2008-2012 due to the subprime mortgage crisis which began in USA, however rent increased, making the cost of living more difficult for expats looking to rent a home or apartment. To fully understand the cost of living in the UK, one needs to examine UK versus USA data, and spend time looking at housing, food, utilities, leisure, transport, clothing, and household goods for a range of household sizes.

UK Versus USA Cost of Living

According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living website ( the United Kingdom has a CPI (consumer price index) of 100.70, with rent at 42.43, groceries at 93.82, restaurants at 95.78, Consumer Price Plus Rent at 72.22, and local purchasing power rated at 98.13. These values are all in percentages for the indices.

The United States is at 76.74 CPI, 35.32 rent, 80.25 groceries, 67.85 restaurants, 56.50 CP Plus Rent, and 142.35 local purchasing power. It is clear that the CPI is lower for the United States as of November 2013; however, this can be subject to change as inflation, interest rates, and the overall economy also change. Where the United States cost of living is different is in local purchasing power, with the percentage well over 100%. Purchasing power is an average for the wage in a city, meaning the salary supports the ability to purchase goods and services. This is an average for the United States, thus not all cities in the USA will have a high purchasing power. Cities like New York, LA, and Denver help bring the purchasing power index higher.

The United States has also been out of recovery longer than the United Kingdom; therefore, certain cost of living indices like purchasing power are rated higher, while inflation is definitely affecting housing and groceries more in the UK.

Costs for Single People, Couples, and Families of Four

The cost of living for singles, couples and families of four will vary in terms of average expenditures. The following categories explore the median prices based on couples, in which a single person will spend less, and the price will double for families of four.

Housing: For those looking to live in the city a one bedroom flat is usually around £650, 100 pounds more than outside of the city centre. A three bedroom apartment is £1200 in the city and 300 pounds lower outside of the city according to recent statistics. Prices in London will be significantly higher, with a one bedroom flat in the city centre costing as much as £1500.

Food and Household Goods: Depending on the goods and food, prices can vary from £1 to £12 on average. Cigarettes and alcohol will be more costly than fruit and vegetables. Milk is currently 96p per litre on average. Laundry soap and other detergents are on the higher end of the scale at £12+.

Utilities: On a monthly basis utilities for a single person cost roughly £180, which includes internet, electric, heating, water, and rubbish collection (Council Tax) for an 82 square metre apartment. A couple should expect costs to be about 30 to 50% higher, while a family of four might see 50-75% higher costs.

Leisure: A single person or couple can expect to spend £60 to £100 for leisure activities such as fitness clubs on a monthly basis.

Transport: Several transport options exist in the UK, however a monthly pass for the London underground is currently £60 on average for one person. Petrol is on average £1.39 per litre. The cost of transport in the UK is extremely high, although it is possible to find deals through transport operators’ websites which decrease the prices.

Clothing: A single pair of trousers, shoes, or dresses/shirts can range from £30 upwards depending on the style and brand.

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