The cost of living in various countries fluctuates frequently, and largely depends on which area of a specific country you intend to live in. The visa and citizenship process, described in the next section, will ensure that you are not moving to the United Kingdom without sufficient financial resources, but it is good to know what sort of prices you will be looking at upon your arrival.
One key difference between prices in the United States and prices in the United Kingdom is the inclusion of sales tax. In the United States, as you know, price tags are almost always the price before an additional sales tax is added on, where applicable. In the United Kingdom, price tags almost always include whatever tax applies to that item. Tax in the UK also works a little bit differently. Instead of one general sales tax, they have what is known as a “Value Added Tax” or VAT. A twenty percent VAT is applied to any item not deemed a necessity. Necessities are exempt, and pseudo-necessities are taxed at a lower rate.
In general, a single person in the United Kingdom needs to earn around £14,000 to meet their bare necessities. On average, residents of the UK pay 50% more in restaurants, 52% more for utilities, 15% more for rent, 12% more for groceries, and a whopping 135% more for gasoline.
There are, however, some goods that are actually less expensive in the United Kingdom than they are in the United States. For example, while restaurant meals are generally more expensive, the price of McDonald's, imported beer, and many other beverages tend to be cheaper. You can also expect to pay significantly less for fresh bread, local cheese, and many produce and butchered meats.
While consumer goods, housing, and utilities tend to be more expensive in the United Kingdom, higher level needs like schooling and health care are significantly lower. The National Health Service spends much less per person than the patchwork healthcare system in the United States does. A student from the United States will pay less than £25,000 annually to attend Oxford University, while a student attending Harvard can expect to pay nearly $60,000 for yearly tuition alone, which is equivalent to £47,721.
Bigworld's sample run to the grocery store (consistent across all our reviewed countries) consists of:
•4 liters of milk
•pound of chicken
•midrange bottle of wine
•head of lettuce
•bunch of bananas
•loaf of white bread
The US market average:
The UK average (in Manchester):
Some resources to peruse:
Numbeo: Cost of Living around the world
Some ads to click on: