The city of London hosts over 8M people and is one of the largest cities in Europe. It is an extremely hectic city, full of people and opportunities. Many internationals from both Europe and all around the world have decided to make London their home.

Have you ever considered moving to London or are going to move to the big city soon? Then you are probably wondering how much it costs to live in London.

We moved to London in the summer of 2017 and I (Alba) had previously lived in the city for a year in 2015/2016 already. Since then, we have lived in 3 different areas of London (South, East and West), worked in different offices and seen a large part of the city. So, we have developed quite a good understanding of the budget you need to live (both humbly and comfortably) in London.

Here is the breakdown of the living in London cost for rent, food, transport and entertainment:

Housing & Rent

Probably the most expensive aspect of living in London is accommodation. Most people decide to share houses or flats due to the high prices. It is easier for couples to get a private flat, but even then, it is probably still too expensive if you are in level-entry salaries.

If you want to live in the heart of London, you’ll have to pay between £800 and £1000 for a decent room in a shared house or flat. This is because housing in the very centre of the city is limited and demand is high. So, most people decide to live in other zones (Zones 2,3,4 and even 5), which are numbered based on their distance to the city centre. Here, pricing highly depends on the area you want to live in and the type of accommodation that you want. But, to give you an estimation, you could get a very cheap room in a further away location for something around £500. 1-bed flats start at about £1200 in cheap areas but in general are around £1500.

When it comes to housing in London you generally need to choose between location and quality of accommodation, or compromise somewhere in the middle.

Please let me know in the comments if you are interested in this topic and I shall write another blog post about housing in London and some of the best areas to live in.

Food & Groceries

The price of groceries highly depends on your eating habits, where you buy and what you like to cook. The most common supermarkets in London are Sainsbury’s and Tesco, where you can find from white label products to very premium brands. In a household of 2, where 1 person is vegetarian, we spend about £45 per week in groceries.

Transport

Unless you live walking distance to your work-place (which is rare), you will most likely have to buy a monthly travelcard. This is because tube prices during peak times are extremely expensive, and if you work a 9 to 5 job, your daily commute will most likely end up costing you over £5 at least. Travel cards are priced by zones and you can top them up both at any tube stations or using the online app. You can find the prices of the monthly travelcards here, they start at £134 per month for zones 1-2.

Another type of travel pass that most people don’t know about is the bus-pass. It is much cheaper than a travelcard at £81 per month, but it only gives you access to the buses and trams, while the monthly travel card allows you travel on any transport method within your paid zones. The bus pass, however, could be very useful for someone who lives in zone 2, not too far from the centre or their place of work. 

The London bus network is actually really good and has great connections between boroughs. The only thing to be alert is the traffic sometimes may delay your journey! I always check traffic and any possible disruptions on my city mapper app, which not only tells you the fastest route to your planned destination but also the cheapest way to get there.

Entertainment

When it comes to leisure, London is a double-ended answer. On the one hand, you have very popular and expensive attractions, musicals, restaurants, etc.. There are hundreds of events happening around the city every weekend, many which are paid entry and usually fairly expensive.

In average, a restaurant meal in a decent but fairly cheap place will cost you £25, a coffee £3 and an alcoholic drink £8.

However, on the other hand, London also offers plenty of free things to do! Firstly, the city is so large that there are always new areas to explore by foot. And, additionally there are lots of places that you can visit without the need to spend a penny! Some of these are the British Museum, Hyde Park, Borough Market, Camden Town and many, many more.

Wandering around Victoria Park
Exploring Camden Market

Would you be interested in reading a post with some of the free things to do in London? If so, please let me know in the comments. In the meantime, make sure to also check out my post about my favorite places in London and this other post about the essential things to see in London.

To summarise, I will break down below the monthly costs of living in London for someone who rents a room in Zone 3 and commutes daily to their work in zone 1. They cook at home every day and go out with friends to events or restaurants an average of 4 times a month:

  • Rent: £700
  • Travelcard: £158
  • Groceries: £100
  • Leisure: £150
  • Total Monthly Cost: £1108

Please note the above does not take into account any personal shopping such as clothes, gym membership, phones bills, make-up etc.

Thanks for reading! I hope that this post informed you well on the cost of living in London. I have a bunch of other articles about London and UK, you are able to find them here.

If you have any additional questions, please leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer accurately. Make sure you also follow me on Instagram and YouTube to keep up with my day to day and my travels!