Disposable income in the UK

Where in the UK can you make the most and spend the least?

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked
Picture not described

It’s no secret that prices and salaries vary widely across the UK. Coupled with a rise in credit card usage, it’s clear that where you live will often dictate how much disposable income you have and how much you rely on alternative means to make ends meet.

If you want to earn more, most people will tell you to move to London for a better-paid job. But if you do, it’s likely that you’ll just end up paying more for living expenses. With this in mind, we looked into the pay gap in different British cities to see whether a higher income is always balanced out by a higher cost of living. Or, whether there are there places where you can earn more without also having to spend more.

Picture not described

We studied income and the cost of living in 30 cities around the UK to find an answer to these questions. For each city, we took the average monthly salary and subtracted the average monthly living costs and rent for one person (see our full methodology below). The result is an estimate of the average disposable income for an individual in each of these cities, shown in the map below.
Of the 30 cities in this analysis, Aberdeen came out on top for disposable income, with the average worker there potentially receiving £1,275 on average to do with as they please each month. This is 43% more than the overall UK average of £888.91. Those living in Brighton get the least disposable income, at £618, 30% below the average.

Monthly disposable income in 30 cities around the UK


70%Country
Aberdeen£1,275|Brighton£618|Average£889|

Worst 5 cities for disposable income

1. Brighton (£618)
2. Cambridge (£647)
3. Nottingham (£658)
4. Norwich (£693)
5. Kingston upon Hull (£694)

Best 5 cities for disposable income

1. Aberdeen (£1,275)
2. Reading (£1,262)
3. Coventry (£1,194)
4. Lincoln (£1,150)
5. London (£1,103)

Average salary vs cost of living in the UK

To look at the data another way, the chart below shows each city’s average salary and average living costs side by side. The smaller the gap between a city’s red and blue dot, the lower the average disposable income in that city. Notably, London’s gap is about average in size, but much higher up the chart than the others, reflecting the higher incomes and costs you find there.

City Average monthly net income after tax (Numbeo)
Aberdeen £2,300.59
Reading £2,465.09
Coventry £2,198.60
Lincoln £2,048.47
London £2,803.79
Manchester £2,108.12
Oxford £2,318.45
Glasgow £1,950.32
Leeds £1,947.93
Derby £1,890.05
Southampton £2,000.35
Exeter £1,911.36
Cardiff £1,876.13
Belfast £1,779.11
Liverpool £1,766.39
Leicester £1,739.09
Bristol £1,958.71
Newcastle upon Tyne £1,709.01
Stoke-on-Trent £1,637.50
Birmingham £1,797.44
Sheffield £1,692.08
Edinburgh £1,868.58
Swindon £1,757.81
York £1,792.29
Milton Keynes £1,785.33
Kingston upon Hull £1,518.87
Norwich 1,633.33
Nottingham £1,616.84
Cambridge £1,864.38
Brighton £1,932.63

The full results

City Average monthly net income after tax (Numbeo) Monthly single person costs Estimated single person rent Disposable income
Aberdeen £2,300.59 £684.32 £340.79 £1,275.48
Reading £2,465.09 £702.75 £500.00 £1,262.34
Coventry £2,198.60 £647.21 £356.59 £1,194.80
Lincoln £2,048.47 £645.48 £252.71 £1,150.28
London £2,803.79 £826.16 £874.17 £1,103.46
Manchester £2,108.12 £652.74 £384.97 £1,070.41
Oxford £2,318.45 £694.71 £573.48 £1,050.26
Glasgow £1,950.32 £612.73 £309.12 £1,028.47
Leeds £1,947.93 £593.19 £341.90 £1,012.84
Derby £1,890.05 £635.77 £247.63 £1,006.65
Southampton £2,000.35 £642.78 £389.93 £967.64
Exeter £1,911.36 £630.67 £316.59 £964.10
Cardiff £1,876.13 £643.32 £320.32 £912.49
Belfast £1,779.11 £571.61 £304.48 £903.02
Liverpool £1,766.39 £641.00 £291.47 £833.92
Leicester £1,739.09 £634.61 £273.77 £830.71
Bristol £1,958.71 £705.86 £450.11 £802.74
Newcastle upon Tyne £1,709.01 £611.87 £294.85 £802.29
Stoke-on-Trent £1,637.50 £673.09 £184.79 £779.62
Birmingham £1,797.44 £660.53 £369.10 £767.81
Sheffield £1,692.08 £620.61 £314.62 £756.85
Edinburgh £1,868.58 £684.49 £437.75 £746.34
Swindon £1,757.81 £693.19 £345.11 £719.51
York £1,792.29 £712.46 £365.90 £713.93
Milton Keynes £1,785.33 £682.46 £403.74 £699.13
Kingston upon Hull £1,518.87 £597.25 £227.08 £694.54
Norwich £1633.33 £645.02 £295.14 £693.17
Nottingham £1,616.84 £665.06 £292.80 £658.98
Cambridge £1,864.38 £723.47 £493.41 £647.50
Brighton £1,932.63 £762.17 £552.42 £618.04

Methodology

  • For rent, we found the total price per room of a three room apartment to get an approximate figure for the rent a single person could expect to pay.
  • To get the disposable income figure for each city, the monthly single person’s rent and living costs were subtracted from the average monthly income after tax.

Sources

  • Numbeo
  • Thinktank for centres
  • ONS

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

Matt Mckenna
Head of UK communications
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

Related articles

Current account statistics

Current account statistics

Current accounts can offer a number of different perks, including better interest rates, cash incentives for switching and overdrafts. You might consider if your current account is offering you the best features. Read more…

What is the FSCS?

What is the FSCS?

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme protects customers' money if their bank or building society fails. But how does it work and are you covered? Read more…

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site