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Mr A


London has long been considered one of the world's leading cities for business, culture, and social scenes. However, living in England's capital can be quite expensive, especially for expats. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover various aspects related to the cost of living in London, including accommodation, transportation, food, education, leisure, and additional living expenses to help you make more informed decisions when planning your move to the city.



The cost of accommodation is often the most significant expense for expats living in London. The city's rental market caters to various budgets, but the cost differs based on factors such as location, type of property, and size. The following are some average rental prices in London:

  • 1-bedroom apartment in the city center: £1,500 to £2,500 per month
  • 1-bedroom apartment outside the city center: £1,000 to £1,500 per month
  • 3-bedroom apartment in the city center: £2,800 to £5,000+ per month
  • 3-bedroom apartment outside the city center: £1,800 to £3,000 per month

It is essential to note that these prices can fluctuate, so it is crucial to research the current market rates before committing to a rental property.

Buying Property

For expats planning to settle in London long-term, purchasing property might be a more attractive option. However, the city's high property prices might also be a hurdle. The average cost per square meter to buy an apartment in the city center is approximately £10,000 to £15,000, while outside the city center, the cost lowers to around £5,000 to £8,000.


London has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, underground trains (the Tube), overground trains, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), trams, and even riverboats. The cost of public transportation depends on travel zones and mode of transport. Generally, the city is divided into six travel zones, with Zone 1 being the most central and Zone 6 the furthest from the city center.

Oyster Card

One of the most cost-effective ways to navigate London's public transport system is by using an Oyster Card or a contactless payment card. Oyster Cards are reloadable pay-as-you-go cards that offer discounted rates compared to paper tickets. Average transportation costs using an Oyster Card are:

  • Single fare within Zone 1-2: £2.40
  • Single fare within Zone 1-6: £5.10
  • Weekly Travelcard for Zones 1-2: £37
  • Weekly Travelcard for Zones 1-6: £67

Cycling and Walking

Cycling and walking are popular, cost-effective alternatives for navigating the city. London has numerous dedicated cycling routes and a public bike-sharing scheme, Santander Cycles, with over 11,500 bikes at more than 750 docking stations across the city. Renting a bike starts at £2 for a 24-hour access period.


The cost of food in London can vary depending on your dining preferences. Eating out can be quite expensive, but cooking at home and shopping at traditional markets and budget supermarkets allow for more affordable meals.


Here are some average grocery prices in London:

  • Milk (1 liter): £0.90 to £1.20
  • Loaf of bread: £0.90 to £1.50
  • Chicken breasts (1 kg): £5 to £8
  • Rice (1 kg): £1.00 to £2.00
  • Twelve eggs: £2 to £3
  • Tomatoes (1 kg): £1.50 to £2.50

Dining Out

London offers a diverse and vibrant restaurant scene that caters to various cuisines and budgets. Eating at pubs, cafes, or casual dining eateries can be more affordable than visiting high-end restaurants. Here are some average costs for dining out:

  • Fast food meal: £5 to £8
  • Budget restaurant meal: £12 to £20
  • Mid-range restaurant, three-course meal for one: £25 to £50
  • High-end restaurant, three-course meal for one: £50+


Expats considering education options in London can choose between public (state-funded) schools, which are free, and private (independent) schools, which require tuition fees. Additionally, there are several international schools that offer various curriculums, but they typically include higher fees.

Public Schools

State-funded education is free for expat children that reside in the UK. However, public schools can be competitive, and the quality may vary depending on the location.

Private and International Schools

Private schools' fees vary based on the institution's reputation, location, and facilities. Annual tuition fees can range from £10,000 to £40,000+ per year. International schools usually charge more, with fees ranging from £15,000 to £30,000+ per year, depending on the school and age of the child.

Leisure Activities

London offers various leisure options, from cultural attractions to nightlife and sports activities. The costs of entertainment in the city depend on personal preferences and the type of activity.

  • Movie tickets: £10 to £15 per person
  • West End theatre tickets: £20 to £100+ per person
  • Museum entry: Free to £20 (Many of London's museums offer free entry.)
  • Fitness club membership: £30 to £100 per month
  • Nightlife: Pints of beer (£4 to £6), cocktails (£8 to £15), and cocktails at high-end bars (£15+)

Additional Expenses

Expats should remember to factor in additional living expenses, such as:

  • Utilities: £100 to £200 per month for a standard two-bedroom apartment
  • Internet: £20 to £35 per month
  • Mobile phone plan: Starting from £10 to £40 per month
  • Council tax: £100 to £200 per month, depending on property value and location
  • Health insurance: £50 to £200 per month (Public healthcare, the NHS, is free for expats, but private health insurance supplements can be beneficial.)


Living in London can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but the cost of living tends to be higher than in many other cities. By researching and understanding the costs associated with accommodation, transportation, food, education, leisure, and additional expenses, expats can make more informed decisions when planning their move to the city. Proper planning, budgeting, and exploring options can help expats enjoy their life in London without compromising on their quality of life.

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