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Mr A


Salary expectations and perceptions of a "good" income can vary depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, age, and individual financial requirements. In this article, we will explore whether a salary of £90,000 (90k) is considered a good income within the context of the United Kingdom. We will evaluate this figure in relation to average UK earnings, the cost of living, and other pertinent financial factors.

Comparison to the Average UK Salary

As a starting point for our discussion, let's examine the average UK salary for context. A £90k salary is significantly higher than the median annual earnings for full-time workers in the UK. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the median annual salary for full-time employees in 2021 is approximately £31,000.

Breaking it down by percentiles:
  • The 50th percentile corresponds to the median salary, which is around £31,000.
  • The 75th percentile represents a salary of about £41,000.
  • At the 95th percentile, the salary is approximately £74,000.

A salary of £90,000 falls well above the 95th percentile, making it a high-income figure by most standards.

Location's Role in Determining "Good" Salary

The cost of living varies significantly throughout the UK. As a result, an annual salary of £90k may carry different implications depending on one's location within the country.


London stands out as having an exceptionally high cost of living in the UK, particularly when it comes to housing. According to property website Zoopla, the average property price in London is approximately £671,000, compared to the UK-wide average of around £340,000.

Renting in London is also expensive. The average rent price in the capital is £1,665 per month for a 2-bedroom flat, compared to the nationwide average of around £1,000.

Despite these higher costs, a £90k salary is still relatively comfortable within the context of London. An individual earning this amount would be in the top 10% of earners in the city and likely be able to afford a reasonably sized property, either to buy or rent, and maintain a good quality of life.

Other Major Cities

Living costs in other major UK cities, such as Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, and Edinburgh, are typically lower than those in London. In these cities, a £90k salary will generally provide an even higher standard of living, with larger or more attractive housing options and greater disposable income.

Considering Lifestyle and Financial Goals

Whether a £90k salary is deemed "good" depends, in part, on personal circumstances, lifestyle choices, and financial goals. Some considerations include:

Education Fees

If you have children, private school fees and university costs can be a substantial expense. According to the Independent Schools Council (ISC), the average annual fee for a day school in the UK is approximately £15,000. A £90k salary will likely mean affording private education for one or more children is achievable, albeit with some financial planning.

Retirement Planning and Investments

A higher salary presents greater opportunities to contribute towards a pension, make investments, or establish other forms of long-term financial security. A £90k salary can facilitate an individual's ability to create a solid retirement plan and portfolio investments that may be out of reach for those on lower incomes.

Holidays and Entertainment

For many people, the ability to travel or enjoy leisure activities is key to a good standard of living. The travel costs, hotel expenses, and assorted entertainment fees can add up quickly. Those earning £90k should be able to afford multiple holidays per year and engage in entertainment activities while maintaining a savings plan.

Tax and National Insurance Considerations

Understanding tax brackets is important when considering the net income from a £90k salary. In the UK, the higher rate of income tax (40%) is applied to annual earnings between £50,270 and £150,000. After tax and National Insurance (NI) contributions, the take-home pay for someone earning £90k per year (filing as a single individual) will be approximately £59,000 or £4,920 per month.

Given that perspective, it's crucial to consider disposable income (net income after taxes, housing, and other obligatory expenses) when evaluating whether a £90k salary is "good."


In conclusion, when compared to the median annual salary in the UK, a £90k salary can be considered a "good" income. However, assessing whether this figure constitutes a good salary for an individual depends on location, lifestyle choices, and personal financial goals. Such an income enables a higher standard of living, more opportunities for investing and saving, and potential exceptions based on location-specific costs.

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