Cost of living in the UK: Calculator to compare cities

Compare the cost of living and renting in UK cities with our cost of living calculator.

Use our dedicated cost of living calculator to find out how much you need in your bank account to rent in cities around the UK. The calculator will also show you the salary you’d need in each city to afford the rent on a 1-bedroom flat – and how this compares to the average annual salary.

Cost of living difference calculator

Select 2 cities from the dropdowns above to begin.

How does our calculator work?

Enter two cities you want to compare the cost of living between. The calculator will show how much more or less expensive the second city is compared to the first as a percentage.

It also gives a more detailed breakdown below so you can understand the costs. This includes the estimated cost of living in each city including rent and the rent for a 1-bedroom flat in each city.

To find out the cost of living without rent – you can simply subtract the rent price from the total cost of living. This cost of living figure includes monthly outgoings such as groceries, bills and entertainment, plus saving 20% of your income.

Salary needed to live in each city

This calculator also includes a handy indication of the yearly salary you would need to afford the cost of living in each city.

This accounts for rent, living costs, savings and pension contributions, so you can assess whether you could comfortably afford to live in that city with the salary you have in mind.

How should I interpret the results?

The cost of living will vary depending on your lifestyle and circumstances so is not an absolute figure – but it acts as a guide for a single person living and renting in a major UK city.

What is included in the ‘cost of living’?

To give an overall picture of the cost of living, we took the total given in each city for bills, groceries and other regular outgoings, added 20% of income for savings, and then added rent for a 1-bedroom flat in the area.

Why does the cost of living vary between cities?

Rent is a major factor in the cost of living and this tends to be quite different across cities, which can account for a lot of differences. Other costs will also vary – with entertainment and food in London, for example, generally more expensive than a city in the north of the UK.

Is renting a 1-bedroom flat affordable in UK cities?

New Finder research on rental prices shows that someone on the average salary would struggle to afford a 1-bedroom flat in 10 out of 54 major UK cities (19%).

To find out the salary needed to rent a 1-bedroom apartment in each city, as well as covering other typical living costs, we analysed the average salary, rent for a 1-bedroom flat and other monthly outgoings in each location.

The London rental market is by far the worst offender when it comes to affordability. The average yearly salary in London is £43,629 but you’d need over £20,000 more to comfortably rent a 1-bedroom flat and meet daily living costs – a salary of £64,930 a year.

Brighton comes in second place, with the average salary of £34,860 nowhere near enough to afford the average 1-bed flat at £1,300 plus living costs. Instead, the typical Brit would need a yearly salary of £41,010 to afford renting alone in Brighton.

The city of St Albans comes in third place, despite relatively high salaries, due to eye-watering rental prices. The average 1-bedroom flat costs £1,425 a month, meaning that you’d need a salary of £42,492 a year to live here, £5,000 more than the current average salary in the area.

University cities Oxford and Cambridge make up the top 5, with monthly rent for a 1-bed flat at £1,390 and £1,500 respectively. Someone in Oxford would need a salary of £43,798 a year to afford rent in the city, over £4,500 more than the average annual salary. Meanwhile, someone in Cambridge would need a yearly salary of £45,581 to afford the average 1-bed flat, over £4,300 more than the average salary.

City Rent (1-bed flat) Yearly salary needed for rent and living costs Difference from average salary
1 London £2,250 £64,930 +£21,307
2 Brighton £1,300 £41,010 +£6,150
3 St Albans £1,425 £42,492 +£5,208
4 Oxford £1,390 £43,798 +£4,549
5 Cambridge £1,500 £45,581 +£4,355
6 Bath £1,250 £38,998 +£3,766
7 Salford £1,100 £36,175 +£1,819
8 Bristol £1,200 £38,451 +£1,575
9 Chelmsford £1,125 £36,792 +£1,524
10 Southend £925 £32,539 +£895

On the flip side, the most affordable cities for renting a 1-bedroom flat are largely in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the north of England. Aberdeen in Scotland takes the top spot due to its relatively high salaries, with the average salary over £12,000 more than what is needed to rent a 1-bedroom flat in the city.

Second place goes to Coventry, which also has comparatively high average salaries compared to its living costs. Meanwhile, Carlisle comes in third place, offering cheap rent and living costs in relation to salaries in the area.

City Rent (1-bed flat) Yearly salary needed for rent and living costs Difference from average salary
1 Aberdeen £550 £27,987 -£12,573
2 Coventry £695 £29,980 -£11,516
3 Carlisle £475 £25,304 -£9,892
4 Chester £750 £24,060 -£9,516
5 Derby £600 £29,910 -£9,414
6 Belfast £700 £28,463 -£7,927
7 Dundee £625 £27,598 -£7,790
8 Hull £575 £24,245 -£7,423
9 Wakefield £625 £27,739 -£6,413
10 Derry £550 £26,045 -£6,179

Methodology

The 56 biggest cities in the UK were selected based on population size. The most recent ONS figures were used for the average salary in cities around the UK. The equivalent figures for Belfast and Derry were taken from the latest NISRA figures. To find the average rent for a 1-bedroom flat in each city, data was taken from home.co.uk. The median rental price was taken to avoid skewing by expensive properties.

To find the cost of living (without rent) in each city, data for a single person’s estimated monthly costs were taken from Numbeo’s cost of living database. Where specific cost of living was not available for a city due to a low number of data points, the UK average cost of living was taken. This includes food, entertainment, transport, bills, and all other regular living costs.

The research assumed that the average person would want to save 20% of their income as a general rule of thumb, and this is included in overall living costs. It also assumed that they would be saving for their retirement by paying auto-enrolment contributions to their workplace pension – and this was included when calculating take-home pay.

The Salary Calculator’s take-home pay calculator and required salary calculator were used to calculate the average UK salary after tax and pension and the salary required to live in each city.

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
M: +44 747 921 7816
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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