How Much Do You Need To Earn To Live Comfortably In London?
Published: 30 Mar 2016 By Laura Chetcuti
I thoroughly relish in the ‘how much money do you need to live well’ debate. It’s one of the most idiosyncratic topics you can discuss and this is clearly evident when stumbling across debates on the likes of Quora and Reddit. People’s views and opinions on how much money you must earn to live a pleasurable life vary wildly, and of course, it’s all down to personal preference. I came across an interesting thread on Quora about how much money someone needs to live a ‘comfortable’ life in London. ‘Comfortable’ life can mean exceedingly different things to different people. I’ve taken a look at some of the bare essentials to what could be perceived to be an enjoyable life and created a breakdown based on what I, and the rest of the team believe to be averages, after all, we are living in London ourselves!
How much does it cost a relatively normal, single person to live in London in 2015/2016?
Rent - £800pcm
Rent is by far the greatest expense you’ll face when living in London. The trauma it’ll inevitably cause you every month on due day is going to depend wholly on the salary you’re earning, but expect a minimum of 800pcm plus bills (that’s in a shared house with a nice room and stable housemates). I lived in a studio flat in Zone 2 when I first moved down to London two years ago. It was a snug little £1100pcm box the size of my now main bathroom, which incorporated my bedroom and kitchen plus an adjoining toilet that resembled something you’d find on a Ryanair flight. Very expensive but that’s what you pay if you don’t want to run the risk of living with a serial killer - something I wasn’t overly prepared to do. On a serious note, most people I know live with friends or are lucky enough to have a great set of housemates. If you’re a single person looking to move to London, you’ll probably be looking at roughly 800pcm for a room in a shared house. Less if you’re happy to live under the stairs for a year.
Travel - £124pcm
For the purpose of this article, let’s say you’re living in Zones 1-2. A monthly Travelcard will set you back £124pcm. The cost increases the further out you live, however as a general rule, the price of rent decreases, so it potentially evens itself out. There are anomalies to this though, for example Richmond is in Zone 4 but you’re looking at Zone 1 rent prices for this area so don’t get too excited!
Food - £200pcm
This truly depends on how much you eat. If you’re like our James Morris and eat 10 meals a day, plus the odd 5 bag of cookies, you probably spend a touch more; after all, our Morris is a growing boy! Most standard, singular people in London won’t need to be spending more than £50 a week on a food shop. You can acquire a week’s worth of food for far less if you’re particularly parsimonious. For someone who doesn’t cook at all and lives off Fridge Raiders and free coffee sachets, you probably wouldn’t spend anything at all.
Eating Out - £200pcm
This again is subjective, but eating out is one of the capitals most popular and trendy social activities. It would be easy to eat out in London every night with the wide variety of restaurants, pop-ups and pubs we have. Hardly anyone who works in Central London drives, meaning the temptation for a meal out after work is all too tantalising and don’t even get me started on the weekends. The price of dinner out fluctuates massively across the capital, with both reasonable and luxurious options sitting side-by-side in most places. Let’s say the average nice meal out with a starter, main and one bottle of wine comes to around £30 each, that’s one nice meal out per week plus a couple of cheaper pub meals for either lunch or dinner. You’re looking at what, £50 per week?
One Nice Holiday Per Year Plus 2 City Breaks - £1150 a year
After all, this article is about how much you need to live ‘NICELY’ in London and in my book, this includes a few breaks per year. I’d say that most people would desire a one to two week holiday per year and an additional two city breaks to break up the rest of the year. Who wouldn’t? So let’s take a look at these two things. For the purpose of this article, let’s use a good one week holiday over a two week trip. Let’s say the average cost of a pleasant week away, somewhere warm in Europe pre-school holiday time is around £650 (we aren’t talking about 5 star luxury here but we aren’t talking hostel either). Then say the typical cost of a 2 night city break is £250 (cheap flights from London airports, two nights in a 3*-4* hotel and a couple of bratwursts). Sound good? I like a bratwurst.
A Gym Membership – £19.99pcm
It is so important, especially for the office workers of the capital, to indulge in regular exercise and there is no shortage of gyms in and around Central London to take advantage of. Gym prices vary enormously across London. If you’re looking for a Zone 1 gym that’s close to your office, you’re looking at £65pcm as a minimum and that’s a gym without a pool. However, there are anomalies to this, even in Zone 1 if you’re lucky, but let’s say you’ve set up camp in a shared house in Zone 2. You’re looking at gym memberships for as little as £19.99 with the likes of Pure Gym, The Gym and Easy Gym. With decent budget chains popping up all over the capital, why spend £65 a month on something you can spend £20 on? Let’s go with the £19.99 Pure Gym membership.
Pension - £100pcm
This is totally dependent on you. Let’s just say you contribute £100pcm into a pension of some description.
Mobile Phone - £35pcm
Most Apple and android phones with an adequate contract are going to cost you £35pcm minimum.
Socialising – £270pcm if you have friends
This depends how much you adore a glass of wine and how few boxsets you’ve got on the go in your Sky planner. Let’s say once a week, someone in the office chirps “fancy a drink after work?” and you say “yes”. A couple of cheeky drinks (maybe three or four if your companion possesses at least middle-level chat) will probably set you back about £20-£25. Another night you might be catching up with a friend. Another £20-£25. Then, presuming you partake in some ritual of a social life, you’ve got something on at the weekend. A few snifters with friends perhaps. You’re probably looking at, say £70 depending on how long you’re out for and how much you drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic, there’s hardly much difference in price in London!) and where you go. Perhaps this happens once a month MINIMUM. This is understandably a huge generalisation. Some people are out constantly of course. It’s no secret that London has a huge drinking culture for locals and tourists alike, so let’s presume that most of the people who are living and working here enjoy a swift beer after work.
The cost of the above equates to £22,137.88. This means that before tax, and with basic bills and tax payments (note BASIC) you would need to earn somewhere in the region of £28,000-£29,000 to live a happy, comfortable life in London. I’d say that’s about right too. Obviously, you can edit costs for virtually every section above, but rent will always be your biggest expense in London. You might be more into fashion than eating out. Swap that spend for clothes. There are hundreds of blogs devoted to helping people save money. Of course you can spend less and more in particular areas. But all the essentials for an enjoyable life in London are available to you on what is a very achievable, modest salary.
It comes as no surprise that the majority of roles we currently hold are in the slightly higher salary bracket of £30,000 - £39,999. After tax, that leaves you with £2467 a month. Let’s see how much more money this is after you’ve paid for your essentials shall we? That’s an EXTRA £7469 per year to do with what you please. What could you do with £622 extra cash each month?
Buy a new pair of Christian Louboutin heels. Every month.
Go on one LUXURY city break.
Purchase A Parrot Bebop Drone Skycontroller.
Buy a new Apple iPhone 6s Plus with 16gb of space.
Nab a pair of Swarovski binoculars.
Indulge in a Montblanc Fineliner.
Adopt a British Blue kitten (12 in 12 months with spare cash for cat food).
Finance a Jaguar XJ.
And there it is! If you’re looking for a marketing job in London, no matter what the bracket, why don’t you check out our current roles? We’ve got plenty of roles in London that will provide you with a stable, happy life in the capital.