The cost of living crisis is a very timely discussion in the UK and it’s having an impact on people’s lives across the country. Many people talk about the impact on people’s households, yet it hasn’t been discussed in that much detail for people living alone. Every component of life is getting more and more expensive, from rent and bills to food shops, going out and holidays, all of which can be much more overwhelming when you’re trying to balance everything on your own.
So, we’re going to discuss the cost of living alone in a few different cities, to help you make an informed decision about whether or not it’s viable for you to make the move to one of the UK cities. Being very realistic about your financial situation is key before moving to a city, to make sure that you can make the most of your time there.
The majority of the statistics below are from Numbeo, and those that aren’t come from personal experience or conversations with friends!
London is notoriously the most expensive place to live in the UK, whether it’s the cost of rent, going out or transport. Having a job lined up before you move to London is key, so you have a clear idea of how much you can afford each month. In today’s climate, moving to London without a job sorted (unless you have savings to tide you over) is risky. So, we’d always say get your job sorted.
You could live in London on a real budget, however of course we want to ensure that you’re living comfortably, which is what this is more about. Based on lots of different opinions, you can expect to spend a minimum of £2,000 a month living in London, or if you want to live very centrally, this will be more.
Housing in London is very overpriced, which is fuelled by the shortage, so with an increased demand comes increased prices. We understand just how hard living alone and renting can be, so a house share is likely the best option. In London, unless you’ve got a job that pays very well, you’re very likely to need to share a house with housemates. Rent alone before bills in a shared house quite central is likely to set you back a minimum of £800 a month, with those slightly further out being cheaper but again, you need to consider the cost of travel, as a monthly travel card will cost you between £150 and £200 a month in most cases! Or, parking in central London if you want to take your car also needs to be budgeted. Living alone in zones 1-3 in a one bedroom apartment will set you back a minimum of £1,500 before bills, although the cost is likely going to be closer to £2,000!
The cost of your food shop luckily will remain stable no matter if you like in London, in the midlands or up North, as there are usually only very minor changes in the cost, especially when you shop at supermarkets. However, the cost of going out, buying lunch out, eating out and activities will be significantly higher than elsewhere.
So, overall, you will need to be earning at least £2,000 after tax to live comfortably in London, although this won’t include going out to expensive places very often. We’d also recommend budgeting for an extra £150 a month, for those bits and bobs that you can never really plan for.
Next up we have Manchester, the “New London” in many people’s eyes that offers a significant amount of job opportunities, as well as fantastic food, drink and entertainment. Although it is more affordable to live in Manchester than London, the cost of living is increasing. Overall, a budget of around £1,600 as a minimum would be required.
Looking at rent firstly, for a one bedroom apartment in the city centre you’re looking at a minimum of £900, which decreases to around £700 if you live out of the centre slightly, such as in Salford. Two bed apartments will set you back around £1,100, so if you decide on a flat share this does make housing more affordable and may be necessary if you are earning closer to £1,600 a month. Again, considering how much travel will cost if you choose to live in the outskirts is important, as a tram pass could cost you £150-£200 for the month, so it may be more cost effective to live in the centre and walk. Although Manchester is big, everything in the city centre is within a 20-25 minute walking distance, so it’s definitely doable.
In terms of going out and activities, again Manchester is cheaper than London, but certainly not cheap! There are plenty of high end bars and restaurants where you will spend a pretty penny on a drink or meal, and in these types of places expect to pay £15-£20 for a cocktail or £35-£40 for a main course in a restaurant. However, the wonderful thing about Manchester is there are more affordable options too. This is especially the case mid-week, whether you want £1 tacos and £6 margaritas at El Capo or a £10 pizza at Rudy’s. In terms of activities, again the weekend will be more expensive, so why not make fun plans in the week and get much more for your money.
To make the most of the city, we’d recommend a minimum of closer to £1,800 a month (bare in mind this is without savings), however if you are happy to choose the cheaper food and drink options and live further out of the city, it is doable on a budget of £1,600 a month.
Glasgow is a fantastic city that has transformed in the last few decades, and is now a great option for many young people starting out their career. In terms of cost of living, it’s one of the cheaper options in the UK. So, a budget of £1,400 could be sufficient.
Rent is much cheaper in Glasgow, with a one bed city centre flat setting you back around £750, or as low as £600 slightly further out. With a house share, you’d be looking at closer to £400-£500 before bills! Along with the cheaper rent, you’ll access cheaper amenities such as gyms and activities, meals will be cheaper and going out also cheaper. For example, compared to potentially paying £120 for a boutique gym in London, or £70 in Manchester, you cuckold access the same for around £30-£40.
There are so many job opportunities in the area too, with some very large companies being based in Glasgow and having opportunities for all kinds of different industries. Overall, if you’re starting out and you’re on a lower budget, then Glasgow is definitely a city to consider.
Many young professionals are choosing Cardiff to kick start their career, as they have more of a focus on quality of life. Cost of living is lower comparatively than the other cities mentioned in this article (25.3% less expensive than London without rent), plus with large UK businesses such as Admiral, British Airways Engineering and a vast range of recruitment, finance and marketing companies, it’s no wonder people are drawn to the city.
For a one-bedroom city centre apartment, rent will be around £800, or moving further out slightly in a house share you could be paying as little as £350. Transportation is also much cheaper, especially compared to London, with a monthly train pass costing around £50 compared to £76 in Manchester or £160 in London! From cheaper fitness memberships to meals, Cardiff makes a wonderful city if you want slightly lower living costs but still a vibrant city to live in with plenty to do!
Now moving onto Northern Ireland, Belfast is another much more affordable option compared to London, with rent on average being 62.5% lower than in London according to Numbeo! You’ll pay around £850 for a one bed in the city centre, but move slightly further out into a flat share with 2 others and you’ll be paying closer to £285 before bills! The general cost of living in Belfast is similar to Cardiff, with utilities being slightly lower. So, for your rent and bills, you could be looking at as little as £400 all in when you live slightly further out. With a monthly public transport pass costing as little as £60, living outside is really easy.
The average salary is slightly lower than Cardiff and Manchester, however this is made up for by the decreased cost of renting. If you do decide to settle down in Belfast and have children, childcare costs around £300 a month less than Cardiff and £200 a month less than Manchester. Not to mention, Belfast is absolutely beautiful, the people are lovely and if you do decide to move, we’re sure you’ll soon feel at home.