As part of this collection of articles to help the people who are evaluating or planning to live and work for a while in the United Kingdom (UK), now we will share information about general features of the most popular supermarket chains, then we will discuss the cost of renting an appartment, followed by a discussion of the utilities in the country and a series of examples of the general prices in the UK.



One of the biggest problems when you are thinking about living and working in England is evaluate the cost of living and know as accurately as possible what you can buy with a certain amount of pounds per month. The supermarkets’ websites are a good source of information where you can estimate the average monthly cost on several items (food, grocery, cleaning, etc.) according to your lifestyle. The United Kingdom (UK), as in many things, has its own supermarkets chains, so you won’t find the classic multinationals chains with the exception of Walmart, which exists under the name of ASDA. The most popular are:

  • Tesco: It is perhaps the largest and most popular chain in the UK. It has different kinds according to the store size: “extra” stores, “metro” stores, “express” stores. They are very popular in London in its small formats (“metro” and “express”). Among the small size stores is the one with the lowest prices and everyday has half-price products. For example, you can always find 4 or 5 wine brands at 50% of their price
  • Sainsbury’s: Its most popular format are small supermarkets (local markets) but you may be able to find larger stores (supermarkets) outside from the populated areas. It is the one with the highest prices, but on the other side it has some better quality products not available in the other chains. It also offers discount products, but less convenient than Tesco. Popular in London, recommended for small purchases or when you need a product that is not available in other places. When you want to buy a lot of products (weekly/monthly purchase), is the less convenient in terms of value for money.
  • Morrisons: Not very well known in London but very popular in medium and small UK cities like Leeds and Manchester. It has no small-size store format. Only big supermarkets, no “hiper” or “extra”. Cheaper than Tesco and Sainsbury’s, is the most popular outside London. In London, you won’t find many of them because of their size. They need larger areas not available in the big city. It is a very good supermarket and the one that offers best value for money for general purchases. You can find very cheap products (usually Morrisons brand) but also quality brands for the most demanding public. As Tesco, you can always find discount products.
  • ASDA: Is the British Walmart. It has only big-size hyper market formats away from very populated areas. For that reason, you may never see one inLondon. It is the cheapest. Recommended only when you need to by a lot of things, because you will have to travel some miles away the city area. If you don’t have a car, we don’t recommend it since the money you can save will be useless because of spending in public transport. Anyway, you can go there a rainy Saturday/Sunday (very common in the UK) for a ride, as they are very large and will be a good entertainment for a gray day. Moreover, they are generally on big retail spaces where you’ll find other shops and fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Subway, and the ASDA food space with healthier choices.

Once in the UK we recommend visiting all of them choose the one most like you. With more experience you will identify which chain is more suitable for certain products. But there is no doubt that Sainsbury’s has higher prices but better quality.


The first question that comes to people planning to live, work or study in the United Kingdom (UK) for a long period is: How much will it cost to rent a flat or an apartment? The answer for that question is not so easy, since when you evaluate the cost of living in the United Kingdom (UK), prices vary depending on whether you live in London or not, the type of floor you look for, the area within the city, etc.

If you are looking for a place to rent in London you should know you are facing one of the most expensive places in the world. However, due to the pound devaluation during the past year, prices have become more affordable. In London, unless you are going to earn a more than 35000 pounds a year, forget about living alone in a modern one bedroom apartment located in zones 1 to 3. Don’t worry about carrying your furniture with you, since 90% of the apartments to rent are furnished and that doesn’t mean that you will have to pay a higher rent price. However, don’t make the classical mistake many people make: be tempted to move miles away from London to save 100 pounds a month. Every day those people watch how their 100-pounds savings are highly outweighed by their spending on public transport, which is extremely expensive in London, even with the pound devaluation. It isn’t worth to write about modern property prices, it will be enough to say that anyone who can afford those properties will not have any problem with money and probably won’t be reading these lines about cost of living in the UK (that’s not a problem for them).

If you are going to relocate to a city in England other than London, costs can be reduced significantly. In one case, a woman lived in Leeds in a two-bedroom apartment, 20 minute walk from downtown (3 minutes walk to Universtity of Leeds) for only 525 pounds per month. The flat rental costs in Northern England are considerably lower than in the south, especially in London. So, students considering universities outside London may consider this factor when choosing the University with best value for money for them. In northern UK, outside England, Scotland could be a beautiful choice and interesting experience, but you will have to support the cold weather.

The success of Leeds as a university town is the value for money it offers to the students. You can make the experience of studying one or two years in the UK at half price of what it would do it in London. In addition, Leeds is a city prepared to have fun and enjoy the university life at its peak, without messing with the stress of costs and lifestyle of a big city like London. In addition, in smaller cities you can experience the real English culture, unlike London where the mixture of cultures has led to the loss of the British identity, according to most people who live there. It’s a matter of looking at people on London streets, or children at schools to realize that 60% or more of the Londiners are not natives. Back to the rental costs matter, you can get a studio in Leeds city centre for 400 pounds. These rates are similar in Manchester and can be even cheaper in SheffieldManchester is one hour to the west away from Leeds by train and Sheffield¸ 50 minutes to the south.

If you have a tight budget, a very popular choice among students and young professionals is to rent a property with 5 or 6 rooms and share rental costs. If you do the above, you can get a private bedroom and share kitchen, bathroom and living room with your roommates for no more than 300 to 400 pounds per month per person. There are letting agencies devoted to this type of rents.

The best way to research prices in different areas is visiting specialized web pages. But be aware that you have to consider the rental price along with other costs that are part of the cost of living in the UK, such as council tax, water, electricity, gas, telephone, broadband internet access and TV license. Yes, you have read correctly, in the UK if you want to have a TV on your flat you have to PAY a tax (few things are free in this country). We will analyze these costs on the next topic regarding utilities in the UK. We hope that this article will help you estimate your particular cost of living in the United Kingdom (UK) as exactly as possible.



In the previous section we talked about rental costs in the UK, but we didn’t include the additional costs for utilities. We will cover utilities on this entry as part of this collection of entries that cover the cost of living in London or elsewhere in the United Kingdom. Find below a list of utilities in the United Kingdom (UK) making the difference between basic and optional services:


It would be very difficult to live without them during your time in England:

  • Water: The main provider is generally a local company where you live. The cost is usually an annual fixed amount, and like most other utilities in the UK, you have the option to pay the full amount in one single payment or split it in installments. If you choose to pay the full annual amount on one single payment, you generally receive a 10% discount. And as we previously said, the cost is usually fixed so you will avoid surprises at the end of the month.
  • Electricity: There are a lot of players on the electricity market so you will have several providers to choose from with different offers. For example, two of the biggest companies are Scottish Power and npower. The monthly cost will obviously depend on your consumption. But be prepared to pay no less than 60 pounds a month. Your energy consumption will depend on whether you live in a full electricity apartment or you have gas also. If you have gas, this cost will be split between gas and electricity bills. Before renting, you should also ask the landlord if the apartment has Economy 7 energy system, very common in the UKEconomy 7 energy system consists of a device installed in your flat that stores energy at night, period of the day when electricity costs are cheaper and then, the stored energy is used during the rest of the day. This system will considerably reduce your monthly bills. As a tip, don’t make the common mistake of turning off the heating system when leaving your apartment, since it is better to have it permanently running at an average level rather that turn it off and let your apartment cool down completely. When you turn it on again, the heater will spend the same power you saved, probably more. As an alternative, you can arrange a monthly average payment with your energy supplier to keep monthly bills at a fixed cost and avoid surprises. But bills are amended quarterly to reflect your actual consumption, so if you spend more than the fixed cost you arrange, your installments will be adjusted after 3 month to reflect that. On the other side, the provider will reduce the installments cost if you spend less.
  • Gas: Gas is becoming less common in the UK. In case you have gas, the providers usually are the electricity ones, and they offer comprehensive plans for both utilities in one bill. You should probably pay for gas plus electricity an average price of 80 pounds per month.
  • Council Tax: It’s an annual tax you pay for services provided by the city council in your area: garbage collection, street lights, cleaning, etc. The price you pay depends on the area where you live. There are several categories (A, B, C, D, etc.) so you should ask your landlord which category you are in. In our example, in Hyde Park area in Leeds (university area) one of our clients used to pay around 800 pounds annually. In London, according to some Londiners we have talked to, you will have to pay at least 1000 pounds annually. You don’t need to pay this amount in one single payment and you can pay in monthly installments. But if you pay the full amount in one single payment, you will get a discount. You can also obtain a 25% discount if you are the only resident in your department or if all residents are students.


You can live without them if you want to save around 50 pounds a month, but it is almost certain that you will want to count with them:

  • Phone: British people are addicted to cell/mobile phones, so it’s more important that you count in a mobile rather than a standard line telephone. For those people that live or have lived in the US, be aware that in the UK, cell phones are called mobiles. The only reason to have a residential phone line is for Internet access. Broadband Internet access via cable modem is not very common in the UK, and ADSL is the more common type of access, for which you need to have a phone line, or BT line, as they call it. BT: It’s worth mentioning that BT is the traditional phone company in the UK and actually was the only one for long time. For that reason, phone lines are often better known as BT lines. But now you can choose among other providers, so when you read you need BT line, not necessarily means that it needs to be provided by BT. Prices? There are many plans but the cost of a basic contract with BT costs about 11 pounds a month and includes free calls to UK landlines on weekends and every day after 6p.m.
  • Internet: There are several providers: Virgin, Sky, BT, O2, Vodafone, etc. Virgin and Sky are the only ones that currently offer cable modem services. But not all areas are covered. Generally you can find out if your area is covered inserting your post code in the provider web page. There are plenty of offers but let’s say that for 15 pounds a month you will have a good connection and if you contract with Virgin or Sky you could get an offer that includes free cable TV channels for a given period of time. Then you will have to pay for it separately.
  • Television: By default, you will have access to the public channels (BBCs and ITVs), plus additional local channels. If you want more private channels you will have to contract with a TV cable provider like Virgin or Sky (the most popular ones). But that’s not all, in England you will have to pay a TV license. That means that the public channels are not completely free, since they are maintained with this tax. You will have to pay around 10 pounds a month if you have colour TV (a little bit less if you have a black and white one, but … who has a black and white TV in these days?). No matter if you watch TV or not, the mere fact of having a TV in your apartment makes you liable to license TV tax, even if you use it only to watch DVD movies. So if you do not intend to use a TV at all, ask your landlord to remove it from your apartment. Believe it or not, TV license payment is very well monitored by the authorities and if you don’t pay, they will knock on your door soon with evidence that you have a TV and you are not paying. England is probably one of the toughest countries in pursuit of taxes and penalties for people not paying.

As a conclusion of this section, the best source of information about prices and offers for a particular utility can be found in any price comparison site, very common in the UK. There are many very useful sites where you can select the utility you want to compare prices and submitting your zip code, the web site will return several prices, offers and providers in your area, even different offers from a single provider. You can also respond to some offers directly online.

Contact us if you would like more information about a particular utility.


In this section, we will continue writing about the cost of living in the UK. This time we will include several prices of items that may be of your interest. These prices are generally the same throughout the United Kingdom, so this post will be useful for anyone moving to any place in the UK: London, Leeds, Manchester, or any other city.
  • McDonalds medium meal deal (burger + medium fries + medium drink): ₤ 3.60
  • Pint of beer in a traditional British pub: ₤ 2 (₤ 1 on Monday / ₤ 3 in after-office pubs)
  • Lunch / Dinner Menu in a traditional British pub (Main dish and beverage): ₤ 5
  • Dinner for 2 at a standard restaurant with a bottle of wine: ₤ 35
  • Donner Kebab with chips: ₤ 5
  • 2 liters of milk: ₤ 1
  • Small latte ( “tall” in British English) in coffee chains (Starbucks, Cafe Nero, Costa): ₤ 2
  • Bus ticket in Leeds: ₤ 1.60 single trip / ₤ 3.20 free day ticket (non-peak)
  • Underground (tube) single trip ticket in London₤ 4.00 (any area)
  • London underground (tube) day pass, zones 1 to 2: ₤ 7.20 (peak hour) / ₤ 5.60 (non-peak hours)
  • London underground (tube) day pass, zones 1 to 3: ₤ 8.60 (peak hour) / ₤ 6.30 (non-peak hours)
  • London underground (tube) day pass, zones 1 to 4: ₤ 10.00 (peak hour) / ₤ 6.30 (non-peak hours)
  • London underground (tube) day pass, zones 1 to 5: ₤ 12.60 (peak hour) / ₤ 7.50 (non-peak hours)
  • London underground (tube) day pass, zones 1 to 6: ₤ 14.80 (peak hour) / ₤ 7.50 (non-peak hours)
  • London underground (tube) day pass, zones 1 to 9: ₤ 16.20 (peak hour) / ₤ 9.00 (non-peak hours)
  • Sunday newspapers (Times, Observer, Independent): ₤ 1.80 / ₤ 2
  • Cinema’s ticket: ₤ 11.90 (Saturday, London) / ₤ 6.80 (Saturday, Leeds)
  • Cigarettes pack: from ₤ 5 (20 cigarettes)
  • 4 beer pack 500ml (stores): ₤ 4

The prices of the products and services in the list above are generally the same throughout the UK, regardless of where you buy them, although there may be slight differences. We didn’t include products which prices vary considerably depending on the store where you buy (e.g.: clothes).

Take a look at this article from time to time as we’ll update it with current prices and other products / services that may arise from your comments about the cost of living in England.