If you’re about to move to London, you might be wondering whether your expected salary is workable or not. You might be asking yourself- can you live in London on a £30k salary? Of course, the answer to this question is pretty subjective.
What feels comfortable or workable for one person, may not work for someone else. But the fact of the matter, is that the median salary in London in 2023 (according to Statista) was £44,370. That means that a salary of £30k is falling a little short compared to the average.
Luckily, as a Londoner who has survived on a salary of £23k, I can share my thoughts and experiences on the matter. Plus, I’ve also surveyed over 200 Londoners about what they think is a comfortable salary in London, which I share more about in this post. Let’s get into it!
What is the average salary in London?
The median salary in London in 2023 was £44,370. The problem with London averages, is that salaries in London will vary an incredible amount: from the very high to the very low.
There is no doubt that in London, people survive on salaries at each end of this very wide pay scale, and also somewhere in the middle.
The London Living Wage is £13.50 in London for 2023-24. If you worked at a job for 37.5 hours a week, for a whole year (including paid holiday), that would equate to £26,325. In theory, the London Living Wage assumes that you could live in London on an equivalent salary.
What is the cost of living in London in 2024?
The cost of living in London in 2024 is undoubtedly high. After all, it’s the most expensive city in the country to live in. The average cost of living in London factors in high rents, travel costs, bills, and of course everyday expenses such as grocery shopping, eating out and entertainment. Because, what’s the point of living in London if you don’t have a little money spare to enjoy yourself?
The average cost of living in London in 2023 was estimated to be, on average, over £3,000 per month for a single person. The average cost of groceries in London alone is between £150-200 for a single person according to our research and audience polls.
However, it’s important to mention that many people live (and live well) on much less than £3,000 per month too. In fact, if you live on a budget in London, you can certainly reduce that amount.
My experience of earning less than £30k in London
When I first moved to London in 2016, I was earning a salary of £23k. However, the cost of living in London was a lot less than it is now in 2024. At the time, I made it work, but it was a tight squeeze until I could increase my income. In 2024, I don’t think it would be possible to survive on this salary if you have rent and travel costs to pay (which is pretty much everyone unless you are living with family!).
If you too are feeling the pinch, and would like to increase your income for yourself, you might consider changing jobs to increase your salary, or pushing for that promotion at work. Alternatively, you could start a side hustle on the side of your 9-5. Personally, I decided to sell hand embroidered t-shirts on Etsy.
The other things that helped me manage a low income in London, were budgeting and meal planning. My favourite free budgeting tool is Snoop. It shows you all of your bank accounts in one place (even your credit cards) which helps give you a bird’s eye view of your finances without any guesswork. You can also set budgets and track your spending within the app.
Do other Londoners think you can live on a £30k salary in 2024?
I asked my London-based Instagram following what salary they thought you needed to earn to live comfortably in London. Their answers varied from £30k to £200k!
225 Londoners answered the survey, and only 10 said that they thought that you could live in London comfortably on a salary of £30k. There is no doubt that it would be very difficult to raise a family in London on a salary of £30k, but it might be possible if you were a single person who lived in a houseshare on the outskirts of London, and kept a very close eye on your budget.
The most common answers in the survey were £50k and £60k. That means that most Londoners think you need to earn almost double that £30k salary to live in London comfortably.
The final verdict
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to live comfortably in London on a salary of £30k, without making some sacrifices to your lifestyle and location. You may find yourself living in some cramped conditions, or perhaps in a less-desirable area of the city.
That said, there are ways and means to live in London on £30k. If you are able to keep your living costs low (making the most of the free things to do in London can help this), you may find that you can live well in London on a strict budget and make it work. Just try to increase your income as much as possible, and as soon as possible!
Top tips for living in London on £30k
If you’ve decided you’re going to go for it and live in London on a salary of £30k, these are our top tips in order to make the most of your money, and enjoy the city at the same time.
Our biggest tip will always be to increase your income (whether that’s through a promotion, new job, or side hustle), but aside from that, here’s how you can live well in London on a £30k salary.
Find a great deal on your accommodation
If you’re earning a £30k salary in London, it is most likely that you will need to live in a house share to afford the high London rental costs. Your best place to find houseshares is on Spareroom.
Spareroom allows you to find listings where existing houseshares are looking for a new tenant, but you can also find other people who are looking for a houseshare. You may wish to find a property (e.g. a 3 bedroom flat) privately on a website like Rightmove, and find housemates on Spareroom to rent it with you. This can sometimes mean you can get a cheaper deal.
If you are in a couple, you may wish to live in a houseshare and share one room between the two of you. This can be an affordable way to rent a room. In my experience of doing this, my partner and I spent £800 per month on a room (£400 each) in a very desirable area of West London. It worked for a year!
Shop around for your utilities and mobile phone contract
If you move into a house share, your utility provider may already be fixed by the landlord. However, you do have control over your other bills such as your mobile phone contract and any insurance that you take out.
Mobile phone contract
Your mobile phone contract could make a huge difference to your monthly expenses. If you are currently on a contract with a handset, this is probably pretty expensive.
When your contract is up, it’s a great idea to keep your current handset and move to a SIM-only plan, which is a lot cheaper. O2 mobile is (in our opinion) the option for Londoners, with great coverage across the UK.
O2 customers get the benefit of O2 priority, with lots of London based perks that make it well worth going with this provider. Plans are priced from £10 per month, which is very affordable.
No matter what kind of room you rent in London, you need to get contents insurance. Although your landlord should have home insurance for the house, you are responsible for your own belongings.
This means that should the worst happen and your home is damaged by a fire, flood (and sometimes even theft), you can claim on insurance for your possessions like your laptop, electronics or anything you may have of value that will need replacing.
Trust me, it took watching the flat in the block next door go up in flames to take out a contents insurance policy, and I wish I’d done it sooner!
Thankfully, it’s not hard to find affordable contents insurance. A great place to start is Urban Jungle who are very well suited for insurance policies for young 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!
Stick to a budget
As mentioned earlier in this article, I think that sticking to a budget was the key to managing my low income in London without going into debt.
There are lots of different ways to budget- you might find that a strict budget using an excel spreadsheet is best for you. Or, you might prefer to use a more flexible approach like the 50 – 30 – 20 method.
To make things super simple, you may wish to use a few tools, like an Excel spreadsheet in conjunction with a budgeting app to track your spending automatically (like Snoop).
Use sinking funds
What are sinking funds? You can think of sinking funds like pots of money that you’ve saved for a specific purpose. They are a way of separating your savings for different goals.
For example, you might have sinking funds for Christmas, your summer holiday, and your car insurance. You’ll gradually save up for the expense over time, so that it doesn’t make a big dent in your finances when the expense is due.
I love to use Monzo to physically separate my money into pots. You can set a goal amount per pot, and track your progress towards your goal.
Use cashback and discount codes
Using cashback websites when you do your shopping is the perfect way to ‘save without noticing.’ The idea being that you spend as normal, and then get money back in your account! Cashback works on the basis that when you click through to the retailer via the cashback app or website, the retailer will give the cashback site a referral fee as a ‘thank you.’ The cashback site will pass some of that commission to you, and keep a percentage for themselves.
My favourite cashback sites to use are Quidco (use my link to get a £10 bonus when you sign up and spend £5 or more) and Topcashback. I would recommend downloading and using both of them, as they each have different retailers and different cashback rates.
Find free things to do in London
There are so many free things to do in London that it’s hard to keep track! From the stuff that’s always free- museum entry, gallery entries, walking around the parks. To the stuff that pops up every now and again like free comedy nights and free outdoor cinema screenings.
Check Eventbrite regularly to find out about the best free things in London near you that suit your interests and hobbies.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in London?
When we surveyed our London-based Thrifty Londoner Instagram audience, we found that the most common answers to the question “how much money do you need to live comfortably in London?” were £50k and £60k.
Of course, this question is subjective. It depends on your circumstances, and your definition of ‘comfortable.’ As a Londoner myself? I’d tend to agree that for a single person in London, you need to be earning over £50k in order to live a comfortable lifestyle that allows you to save money and spend money on things that are important to you.
What is a livable income in London?
A livable income in London is subjective. In my experience as a Londoner, for someone who is single or in a couple (without children), you could get by comfortably on a salary of £50k. You could certainly survive in London on a £30k salary, but it would require some sacrifice.
Can I live in London on £27k?
A salary of £27k is still above the current ‘national living wage’ for London. Therefore you could probably live on £27k, but it would come with some level of sacrifice. You may not be able to go on an annual holiday, or take up a hobby that requires some expense.
Living in London on £27k means that you’d want to try and increase your income as soon as possible to afford a more comfortable standard of living.