If you’re considering moving to the UK, the question on your lips will most likely be, how much does it cost to move to London? It’s a fair question, seeing as London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, with a high cost of living. The cost of moving to London will depend on where on the world you’re moving from (don’t worry, we will cover that in this post!), your visa requirements, and how much stuff you intend to move with.
It’s possible to move to London on a fairly low budget, but you’re still likely to need to save a minimum of £2,000- £3,000 (or equivalent) before your move. Let’s jump in and break down the essential costs of relocating to the city.
Your new home
If you’re moving to London, your biggest monthly expense is likely to be your accommodation. That’s the same whether you are renting or buying. But did you know that your accommodation will also cost you a bit of money before you even move in?
More often than not, you’ll be expected to pay a deposit when you rent a room or a property (usually 6 weeks rent), plus one month of rent in advance. This will likely total a couple of thousand pounds (or more!) depending on where you choose to live in London, and the size of your rental. Even an affordable apartment in London is likely to require this upfront payment.
But fear not, you will get your deposit money back at the end of your tenancy if everything is in order. Top tip for all soon-to-be Londoners, make sure that you take detailed photos of the property before you move your stuff in, and take photos when you leave too. This will be helpful if you ever need to dispute any costs. (I’ve been in a 5 month deposit dispute with a past landlord before and having photos meant that it fell in my favour, even months after moving out).
Shipping your stuff
If you’re moving to London from abroad, shipping your possessions will be an expensive part of your move. The shipping costs to the UK from countries like Australia, USA and Canada are particularly expensive. If you’re not planning a permanent move, you may wish to consider leaving most of your furnishings behind in your home town, and putting them in storage. You can opt to rent a furnished property, which are quite common in London.
That said, even if you put your possessions in storage, this also incurs a cost. Even if you’re packing light, your home comforts will more than likely be more than the contents of one suitcase. The costs can quickly add up.
Consider the following when shipping your belongings to London
- Could I buy this item in London, and would it be cheaper than shipping this item?
- Review international removals firms, and get several quotes.
- Check whether a courier service such as DHL or UPS could be an affordable option for smaller items.
- Check how much baggage and what type of baggage your airline allows and any associated fees.
- Consider shipping via sea instead of air. This is considerably cheaper, but takes 3-6 months.
The shipping costs are not cheap. So if you’re moving to London from abroad, try and reduce your belongings to what you can fit in baggage on the plane.
If you do opt to ship all of your possessions to the UK, you will need to fill out a Transfer Of Ownership (TOR) Form. This declares that the items are your possessions, and that you do not have to pay import duty (tax) on them. This includes pets!
One of the best things that you can do when you move to London, is to move to a property that is furnished. It means that you avoid most of the furnishing costs altogether. (And if you already have furniture, you could opt to store it for a relatively affordable rate).
However, if you’re in a rush to move, a furnished property might not be an option. The price of furnishing an unfurnished property can be daunting, especially when you have London prices to contend with. But all is not lost.
You can furnish your new home with cheap furniture, furniture from charity shops, furniture outlet stores, and even find free furniture in London. With used and cheap furniture, you could furnish a 1 bedroom flat for less than £1,000.
Furnishing costs can easily ramp up. This is especially true when you want your new place to feel like home. But remember that it’s ok to furnish your place slowly, and pay for things as you go. There’s no need to take out credit to pay for your furniture when you move to London.
If you are bringing a pet to London, they will come with their own set of costs. Not only will you need to buy a pet passport, but you will also need to pay for their travel, and insurance once you get to London. A pet passport usually costs £130-£330. In addition, pet travel can cost £800- £3,500, which really adds up if you are travelling long haul with a pet.
It’s a good idea to get pet insurance and register with a vet in London so that you are fully covered. To find out the best deal for pet insurance, use a price comparison website. You can also use a cashback website like TopCashback to get some money back when you use the price comparison website service to find pet insurance. Pet insurance can start from just £10 per month.
The next stumbling block when it comes to bringing a pet with you, is finding a rental that will accept pets. It is not unheard of to find accommodation where pets are allowed, but it is usually the exception, not the rule. It could make your house hunt a little more lengthy and complicated. Higher deposits are often required from landlords when pets are involved. This could mean that your moving costs further increase.
Bills & Utility Costs
Your bills and utility costs in London will be quite similar to other areas of the country. Your monthly bills are likely to include council tax (did you know that the council tax rates are different in different boroughs of London?), water, gas and electricity, and broadband.
In London your water bill will probably be with Thames Water. But, your utility bills and broadband provider can usually be chosen by you. This gives you greater flexibility, and means that you can opt for a lower cost provider, especially when it comes to your broadband package.
Average bills in London
|Rent||£2,109 per month according to HomeLet (this is very much an average, so your rent could of course be much higher or lower depending on where you choose to live)|
|Water||£34 per month (mine cost £27 in London Borough of Hounslow)|
|Electric||£98 per month|
|Gas||£99 per month|
|Broadband Internet||£30-50 per month (this depends on your provider. Check out Plusnet for a £25.99 deal)|
|Mobile phone||£12-50 per month (but we recommend Vodafone for great deals (like 200GB for £13 per month), and tons of cool perks, like free coffee!)|
You will also need to consider contents insurance when you move to London. This is VITAL to get in the city, and can be very low cost. It’s worth setting this up as soon as possible so that you are protected. You don’t want to be the person who regrets it. (Personally I had been slow at getting contents insurance myself, and then a flat across from me caught fire and I took out an insurance policy that same day!)
You can get super affordable contents insurance, and a great place to start is Urban Jungle who are very well suited for insurance policies for people in the city. It’s affordable, easy to set up, and you can manage everything digitally. It’s ideal for those living in London because it’s a rolling plan created to your needs- so if you don’t want to pay out for an entire year at a time, this one is for you!
Sign up for Urban Jungle contents insurance here.
If you’re moving to London from abroad, your visa requirements are likely to be another large expense when it comes to your total cost of moving to London. The fee you pay for your visa will depend on the type, and where you are moving from. You can expect to pay from £130-£3,000+.
There is a full breakdown of fees which gets updated yearly on the government website. Don’t forget that you’ll also have to pay courier fees to send your documents to and from the UK. This can be in excess of £50. As you can see the answer to the question ‘how much does it cost to move to London?’ is… quite a lot!
Some employers may cover the cost of your visa, which is extremely helpful. Count yourself lucky if your employer is happy to do this. And if they haven’t offered? Ask! You never know, they might be willing to cover all or part of the cost which all helps to bring down the cost of your move to London.
If you are moving to the UK on a visa, you will also need to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge so that you can access the NHS (National Health Service) in London. This is so you are covered in the event of an emergency or ill health. Again, the cost of the surcharge will vary based on how long you are staying in the UK and your visa type. This calculator can help you to estimate the cost.
Flights and travel
If you’re moving to London from abroad, you may already be aware that the main airports in London are Heathrow and Gatwick, and technically they are a short journey out of the city. If you are travelling with lots of luggage, you will want to arrange an airport transfer to help you with your baggage. You definitely don’t want to get on the tube with lots of stuff!
Your flights to London will vary in price depending on where your flight will originate from. If you are travelling during the school holidays in the UK (usually 6 weeks over the summer, 2 weeks and Christmas and Easter, and 2 half term holidays), you will find the flight prices are extremely inflated. If possible, try to move to London during term time instead to save some money.
Transport in London
Once you get to London, you will initially incur some travel costs such as trains, tubes, and possibly taxis. As most Londoners will tell you, avoid getting a black cab! These London taxis are iconic, yet they are extremely expensive. Leave the black cabs to the tourists and book taxis using prebooking services if you are making an airport transfer, or use Uber or Bolt for other, shorter journeys.
Don’t worry too much about getting a car in London. The transport network (Transport For London, a.k.a TFL), is very good and so most Londoners don’t own a car. Plus, driving in London? It’s more hassle than it’s worth.
General cost of living
Once you’re in London, you’ll likely find the cost of living is high, relative to the average salary in the city. In this section we will break down the rate of costs you might expect when living in London.
Food costs in the UK have been increasing steadily over the last couple of years in the UK. After your rent, bills, and travel costs, groceries is likely to be an area of high expenditure for you while you are living in the city.
If possible, opt to shop at low cost supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl. These are dotted around London. However, if you’re not close to one, book an online shop delivery from Sainsbury’s, Asda, or Tesco. These are the cheaper supermarkets and they often have introductory offers on grocery deliveries for new customers. You can also sign up to TopCashback and Cheddar (use code THRIFTY) and get cashback on your grocery shop too.
Avoid convenience shops like Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local. Waitrose is also a higher cost supermarket which should be avoided if you want to save money on groceries in London.
Meal delivery kits
If you haven’t already tried them yet, meal kit delivery services can be a Godsend when you’ve just moved somewhere. It can save you so much time and mental headspace!
HelloFresh will provide you with all the ingredients you need (including items like soy sauce and condiments!) to make fresh, healthy meals. 🥑 Check out HelloFresh here and get 60% off your first box!
Meals out & Entertainment
Socialising, eating meals out, and general entertainment is likely to be another main expense when you move to London. The cost of drinks after work can quickly mount up, especially when you want to explore your new city! Set aside at least £200 for your first month in London to get yourself out there and enjoy the city without limitations.
And if you’d like to save more money in this area while still enjoying yourself? You could try discount and deals websites such as LivingSocial which offer great discounts (sometimes as much as 80% off!) on fabulous restaurants, hotels, and entertainment in London.
Health & Fitness
London is home to lots of green, outdoor spaces, and there are even lots of free outdoor gyms in London. But if that’s not your thing? Your best bet on finding the right gym for you is trailing a couple of different options with a free gym pass. It’s a great way to try out different gyms before you commit.
What is the average cost of living in London?
The average cost of living in London is high. The average cost of living in London at the time of writing is £3,200 per month. That’s more than £1,000 more than the average in the rest of the UK. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live. Although there are savings to be made on accommodation when you live on the outskirts of the city, the cost of commuting can quickly ramp up.
What is the average cost of rent in London?
The average cost of rent in London at the time of writing is £2,109, according to research by HomeLet. This has increased more than 12% compared to 2022. Of course, the amount you will actually pay in rent can vary dramatically based on where you live, and what kind of property you live in.
Can you live in London on a £20k salary?
How much it costs to move to London is all relative to your salary. Ultimately, living in London on a £20k salary will be difficult if you do not have savings to use, or a second stream of income to fall back on. When considering how much does it cost to move to London, your salary needs to be closer to £30k as a minimum to afford your basic needs in London. And if you want to enjoy life in the city? Your salary will need to be higher still.