Moving to London


How is the cost of living like in London?

Planning to study, work or planning to settle down in London? For me, I have always wondered about the cost of living in London before coming over. I will discuss more about the cost of living in London based on my experience here as a family of three, renting an apartment in zone 2.

Cost of living 1. Housing / Rental

As I’m typing this post, I’m checking on the current rental rates in London. If I were to search for rental in London within 2km, there are still many units listed. You will need to click in to check when will the unit be available from and whether bills are included. Prices vary according to distance, convenience, unfurnished / furnished and size.

Searching for units to rent on OpenRent
Search page on OpenRent
Examples of cost of rental in London - on Zoopla
Example of what you see on Zoopla

There are multiple sites that you can search on for available units and you can always filter accordingly. If you are on a tighter budget, it will be ideal for you to consider the monthly cost as well as the transport cost – see below.

For our housing cost, we are currently paying £1750 per month for rental of a 2 bedroom unit (not in central London), excluding bills. It usually takes us about 30 minutes to travel into central London. And thankfully, the underground station is about 3 minutes walk from our place, which is really convenient! Read on for other cost that you will have to consider as well.

2. Council Tax

While you’re searching for units to rent, you will probably come across Council Tax. It refers to payment made by residents to support various services offered by the borough. These services include street lighting, waste collection, educational institutions, libraries, as well as the police and fire departments.

You will usually have to pay Council Tax if you are aged 18 and above. The full Council Tax is usually based on at least 2 adults in a home. Couples living together will be jointly responsible for paying the bill. Some adults are not counted in the number of pax living in a property, the term they use is “disregarded”. Examples are under 18s, full-time student in a college or university, a diplomat etc. If you are considered a “disregard”, you can apply for a discount on the Council Tax Bill.  

Each home was allocated a band from A-H by HMRC’s Valuation Office Agency, based on its open market capital value back in 1991. The council tax is based on which band your home is in.

You can refer to website for more information regarding Council Tax. Alternatively, if you know where you will be staying, you can also head to the council’s page directly for more details.  

For us, our unit is in band D and our council tax for 6 months is £799.55. Depending on your circumstances, you can write to the council for exemption or assistance.

3. Monthly Bills

Monthly bills generally include the following: 1) water bill 2) hot water / heat bill 3) electricity bill 4) WIFI plan 5) Phone / data plan

A rough guide of bills according to our monthly usage (based on 2 adults 1 toddler):

ItemCost (in GBP, £)
Heat / hot water112.4
Phone / data15 (for 2 adults)
Total bill for the month of May, individual cost varies. Use of heat or hot water might also be higher especially during colder months.

4. Transport

I would suggest downloading the Citymapper application. There, you can look for travel routes and you get to see step-free options, duration as well as the total cost involved for that particular route.

Cost of living - transport, citymapper app

An example of how the application looks like. You can also see if the line has any issues e.g. delays. The fare would normally depend on which zone you are travelling to and fro. You have the option of travelling on the London Underground, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth Line and National Rail services in London.

Their peak hour fares are Monday to Friday (excluding Public Holidays) between 0630-0930 and between 1600-1900 hrs.

Off peak fares applies at all other times and if you travel from a station outside of Zone 1 into Zone 1 from Monday to Friday, between 1600-1900 hrs.

If you are travelling daily, you can also consider getting the travel cards. You will have to decide if the travel card will be more worth it for you depending on your travelling needs. There is a daily cap to your travel fares as well.

Zone(s)One Day AnytimeMonday to Sunday
Zone 1 only£8.10£40.70
Zone 1 and 2£8.10£40.70
Zone 1,2 and 3£9.60£47.90
Zone 1,2,3 and 4£11.70£58.50
Zone 1,2,3,4 and 5£13.90£69.60
Zone 1,2,3,4,5 and 6£14.90£74.40
Accurate as of June 2023
Please go to their website for updated fares –

5. Groceries

Eating out is way more expensive compared to cooking and eating at home. I usually head to the nearest Tesco superstore for my groceries, and the average monthly expenditure for groceries is about 500£ (some months I might spend more, some months less).

On a regular trip, I will normally get staples and ingredients to cook. You can always search for the price as a general idea online – Sainsbury, Tesco, Lidl, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and ASDA are some common supermarkets that you can get groceries from.

6. Additional: TV licence fee

One extra bill that we did not know about earlier was the TV license bill! TV license bill costs £159 per year. The TV licence fee covers nine national TV channels, radio stations, BBC website, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds, BBC World Service and others like CBeebies, BBC Three, Food, News, Sport and weather, Bitesize services. If you do not watch any of these, and you do not stream or record TV in any of the ways listed on their website, you can let them know. Thankfully, we did not use any of the services and hence we did not have to pay for the licence fee.


Rental + Council Tax + Monthly Bills + Transport + Groceries = a lot of money! In general, if you cook more than you eat out, I believe it will save you loads. Because of the expenses required, I started to be more attentive to water usage, electricity conservation and I definitely try to plan my route well before heading out for the day to reduce additional transport cost.

If you are at the stage of planning to fly to London, and are looking at the costs involved, refer to my other post on upfront cost! The costs are in SGD, but you can do a conversion to your own currency to have a rough idea on the costs involved. Information is accurate as of posting.

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