If you want a real life example of monthly living expenses in London (from a Londoner!) you’re in the right place. I’m giving you a completely transparent insight into my exact monthly expenses. I’ll also be sharing information about the average cost of living in London for Londoners, so that you can see for yourself what a realistic budget in London might be.
It’s worth saying from the outset, that some Londoners will spend more than this, others will spend less. This is just a snapshot insight into my own expenses, when I was employed and earning a £55,000 a year. I lived in Chiswick in a one bedroom privately rented flat, which was shared with my husband.
Before we get started, please keep the following points in mind:
- Everyone’s expenses will be slightly different. Everyone’s priorities and attitudes to money are different.
- The choices that people make when it comes to their money are personal, and dependent on their own circumstances at the time.
- The cost of living in London is increasing- groceries, housing, and other bills are going up. You may find that prices increase from those listed within this post.
- No judgement here. Sharing for transparency only.
Average cost of living in London
According to research by Homelet, the average cost of rent in London as of 2023 was £2,179. Of course, this is an average- there are rentals much higher and lower than this cost. But, it does illustrate how expensive life is for Londoners. The average cost of living in London is HIGH.
So what about groceries? The average cost of groceries in London is between £150-200 for single person, £200-300 for a couple, and £300-400 for a family. But again, grocery bills are increasing, and you may find that you spend more if you have certain dietary requirements.
So how do these averages compare to my actual living expenses in London as a 30 year old? Let’s take a look at the breakdown below.
Rent and bills in London
Rent and bills in London are unsurprisingly the biggest monthly expenses for most Londoners. Personally, I think we had a great deal on the flat that we rented, in that the rent was affordable for the area that we lived in (10 minutes walk from Gunnersbury tube station).
Our rental also had the added benefit of having heating and hot water included in our rent. It had it’s pitfalls (we had no say on the date that the heating was turned on or off), but in general this was a good perk for the price that we paid for the flat.
Here is a breakdown of our rent and bills (we paid half each), per month as of October 2022.
|Rent on 1 bedroom flat in Chiswick (heating and hot water included)
|Electricity & Gas
Subscriptions & memberships
I’m not big on subscriptions and memberships. We shared Netflix with my parents, which was paid for by them. Occasionally I would pay for Amazon Prime, but I didn’t include this in my monthly expenses as this was usually a one off around the festive period, for example.
These subscriptions and memberships also don’t include any business-related expenses or subscriptions (nor does this article take into account any business earnings).
I also paid for travel insurance annually, at £51 for two people.
Grocery shopping is an area that I personally don’t scrimp on. Health is an area of my life that I actively invest in. I try to buy organic fruits and vegetables where possible, wild caught fish, and other “fancy” health food products and supplements.
Due to the location we lived in, and the fact that we didn’t have a car, we shopped at Sainsbury’s for the most part. We did not live close enough to an Aldi, Lidl, Tesco or Asda to make savings on our grocery shopping
|Grocery shopping at Sainsbury’s, Tesco Express and Co-Op
This figure only accounts for what I spent on groceries for that month, my husband would have also shopped for groceries too. Also note that I was away for 9 days of the month of October, so this figure is slightly less than expected.
In general, the fact that I was pescatarian and my husband was vegetarian certainly brought down the cost of our groceries. We also had a large fridge-freezer in our kitchen, which meant that we took advantage of batch cooking and freezing to avoid food waste.
Travel & Commuting
I commuted to work 3+ days per week from Chiswick to Shoreditch and each day this cost me £7.20, approximately £86.40 per month, although I would usually end up needing to go to the office more than 3 times per week.
During the weekends I would also use the tube fairly frequently, and in the month of October 2022, I spent a total of £63.30 with TFL (although I was out of London for 9 days that month on holiday).
I also visit my family who don’t live in England, every 2 months. So I put aside £100 per month to account for those flights. Visiting my in-laws every other month costed around £60 per journey on the train, so I also accounted for this.
Eating out & Entertainment
Eating out and entertainment is something that can very quickly hoover up your budget each month. It’s likely to be another one of the highest living expenses in London for Londoners. Whether it’s drinks after work or dinners with friends- there’s lots of stuff going on in London!
In the month of October 2022 I spent £178.61 on eating out, drinks and entertainment (but again, I was away for 9 days of the month, so this figure comes in slightly less than other months). I paid for a special celebratory dinner in the month of October using a pot of cashback that I withdrew from Topcashback, which cut down this cost in real terms.
Shopping in the month of October came to £207.90. That includes clothing, beauty, gifts and any other personal shopping. I had received some birthday money as it was my 30th birthday in the month of October 2022, and so this accounted for some of the increased spending.
Other miscellaneous expenses
So we’ve covered the basic living costs- what about other miscellaneous living expenses when you live in London? Miscellaneous expenses can vary month to month. You might find that one month you have to pay for dental care, another month you might need to renew your insurance.
The best thing that you can do when you live in London is to make sure that you have pots of money saved in advance for these larger expenses. A great option is to use Monzo where you can gradually save ‘pots’ of money for future expenses.
How did I reduce my cost of living in London?
Lived in a dated flat to reduce rental costs
As you can see from the image earlier in this post, my flat was far from Instagrammable. However, it was conveniently located, in a safe area of the city. It allowed my husband and I to save more money because we were spending less on rent.
My flat was also located close to work. For several years I commuted to work on foot, a 40 minute walk each way, which saved me thousands of pounds over the years.
Stuck to a budget
I used a budget and sinking funds (pots of money saved gradually for upcoming expenses) to manage my money effectively. I used several different budgeting strategies (including my signature Thrifty Londoner budgeting spreadsheet) depending on my goals.
I have also used and loved the free budgeting app, Snoop. You can see all of your accounts (current accounts, savings accounts and credit cards!) in one place which gives you an instant overview of your finances. I also love the fact that you can create a budget within the app, and it automatically keeps track of your spending and bills.
Meal planned and batch cooked foods
Meal planning and batch cooking- grocery shopping saviours! If you haven’t heard of meal planning before, it is when you decide in advance what you’ll cook for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day of the week. It means that you should have less food waste, and that you’ll buy less too.
Batch cooking is the simple concept of cooking more than you need, and freezing the extras. Again, it means less food waste, and less time wasted too.
Cashback has been a brilliant way to make money back on my online shopping. Over the years I have managed to get around £200 back due to using cashback when shopping online through the app or browser extension.
Topcashback is one of the most popular cashback websites. I have used this site myself for many years and built up pots of cashback (which I like to withdraw for Christmas or for a fancy celebratory meal).
Cashback works on the basis that whenever you click through to a retailer website, the retailer will pay he cashback site a small commission (also known as an affiliate payment) for referring you to their website. The cashback site will keep some of that commission for themselves, and then pass on the rest to you!
Quidco is another well known cashback app which is fantastic. They have different retailers listed on the platform compared to Topcashback, so it’s well worth using both in tandem to make the most of it. Quidco say that on average, their members earn back £280 per year!
Increased my income
This one isn’t reducing my cost of living expenses as such, however I do think it is worth mentioning that increasing your income where possible will help you to save more money and reach your financial goals quicker, all while enjoying a reasonable standard of living in London.
Getting a pay rise
The best way to increase your income is to get paid more for the work you already do. Easier said than done, right? But whether you job hop, or you ask your employer for a raise, consider this as a way of increasing your income and therefore being able to save more money/live more comfortably.
Starting a side hustle
As you may already be aware, I am a huge fan of a side hustle. In fact, I started Thrifty Londoner as a side hustle back in 2018. And before that? I had a side hustle hand embroidering tshirts on Etsy as a way to make extra money in London when I first moved in 2016.
There are so many side hustle ideas that can fit around a 9-5 job, and many that could turn into full time businesses if you wanted them to. Check out my side hustle toolkit if you’re not sure where to get started.
Can I live off £1,500 per month in London?
£1,500 per month before tax in London is a salary of £18k. In my opinion, you can’t live on a salary of £18k in London without having help from family, or without living with family.
If you have £1,500 post tax and deductions, it’s more likely that your salary is around £22-23k, which in my opinion, is still too low of an income to live in London comfortably. As a minimum, I think that you need a salary of around £30k to get by in London, but you’ll need around £45-50k to live a comfortable lifestyle in London.
Is £1,000 enough for a month in London?
£1,000 is not enough money for one month in London- unless you discount any payments for rent and bills, and discount saving any money.
In this case, £1,000 is enough for spending money in London for one month.
How can I reduce my living expenses in London?
There are lots of ways to save money in London. You can reduce your expenses in London by prioritising your expenses in order of most expensive to least expensive. For example, big monthly expenses like rent, bills and food will have the biggest impact on your finances if you can reduce them.
Review whether you could move to an area of London with a lower average rental cost. Check price comparison websites to see whether you could be making any savings on your utility bills. Try meal planning and batch cooking to reduce the cost of your groceries.