London bus and Big Ben during sunset - how much do you need to earn to live in london
London bus and Big Ben during sunset - how much do you need to earn to live in london

Moving To London After Uni? Here’s How Much You Need To Earn To Live There

No, seriously. How much do you need to earn to live in London?

London is big. London is boujee. London is bloody expensive. But, is it a great place to live? Absolutely.

London is full of a lot of opportunities. From jobs in various industries to activities that will have you running out of space on your calendar, London is the centre of everything. But with that kind of title, comes a teenie, weenie problem… like how much you actually need to live comfortably in London. 

While London is definitely not what you call cheap, some may say it’s worth it, and others might even think it’s not too expensive (if you don’t want to have any money in your savings). Regardless, London is still a hotspot for graduates so if you want to move there after uni, here’s how much you need to earn to live there, as well as what the average graduate starting salary is in London.

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In this guide:

London cost of living

As I said, it’s no secret that London is spenny. But, just how pricey is it? 

According to the Office for National Statistics, London had the highest annual percentage change in private rental prices in the last 12 months (within England) — 6.9% compared to the North East (the lowest) at 4.7%.

If you want further comparison, according to Numbeo, the price for a half litre of domestic beer costs £5 in Manchester, but £6.50 down in London! Want to sweat out your stress? A gym or fitness club membership will cost you around £46.07 per month in the big city, but only £28.88 in Manchester. 

Of course, if you’re living in London, you’ll probably be paid more on average than someone in Manchester which then makes the increased prices not so bad in comparison (but still pretty bad). And that’s before we even mention the rental prices…

Don’t forget London is a bustling city though, with a lot to do, eat, see, and the public transport is pretty handy, too. So while you might be paying more than anywhere else in the country, you’re almost guaranteed to never be bored.

Essential monthly expenses and costs

Whether living alone, with a partner, or with housemates, there’s going to be some monthly costs you have to prepare for wherever you are — rent, bills, council tax *shudders*. 

If you’re lucky to be working, you might also need to fork out on commuting, which can take a chunk out of your monthly wages.

We’ve outlined some of the costs you’ll be needing monthly, to give you an idea of how much it might cost to live in London.

These are the average rental prices in London (depending on type of housing), according to Housing Anywhere:

Type of accommodationAverage rent in London
Private Room£952
Table of rent prices in London depending on type of accommodation

With housing, comes utility bills. And that’s another sizable chunk from your monthly spendings. According to Londoner Amy, of the blog “What Amy Says”, the average cost of utility bills are as follows:

  • Council tax — likely to be the biggest portion of your utility bill. Council tax depends on your local council but you’ll be expected to pay upwards of £100 per month
  • Electricity and gas — how much you pay for electricity and gas will depend on where you live. If you’re in a houseshare then you’ll probably be splitting the bills or the bills are included in your monthly rent. If you work from home, expect to pay more. Amy currently pays £180 per month for a two-bed flat, but for a one-bed flat, you bills could be around £100, or less if you’re lucky
  •  Water — yes, you have to pay for water but it tends to be the least expensive of the utilities. Expect to pay around £30 a month for a 1-2 bedroom flat. Sometimes the water bill is included in the rent if you houseshare
  • Internet — Internet varies depending on how fast you need it to be. Amy says that her contract is £38 per month — enough for two people working from home. 

It might seem manageable, but when you factor in spending for socialising, food, and transport, you might be faced with a bit of a reality check. That’s especially true if you’re earning a graduate starting salary. 

If you have a car, you honestly don’t need it if you’re moving to London. It will likely cost you more in money and effort, and when you realise London is a labyrinth of traffic, you’ll understand the Holy Grail that is the tube. Also, parking is a NIGHTMARE. 

Opt for a Travel Card instead, which will allow you unlimited access to bus, Tube, Tram, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth line and National Rail services in London.

If you’re hoping to cut out the job commute completely, check out the best online jobs in the UK to find your remote role.

How much do you need to earn to live in London?

London is around 27% more expensive than the rest of the UK.

According to Finder, a single person in a studio or flatshare in London would need a salary of £37,000 to live in the capital and be financially stable. Ouch. If that’s not steep enough, wait till you read about how much you need to earn to live in London and be happy. Sorry, you read that correctly — it will cost a lot more to be happy in the city. 

How much more? Calculations from S Money show that to live a carefree, happier life in London, you’ll need a salary of £79,524 per year. 

That’s a lot, but you have to remember not everyone has the same idea of happiness and stability, so take it with a pinch of salt. Especially since the average London salary for 22-29 year olds is £35,386, and for 18-21 year olds it’s £22,693 — you won’t be the only miserable one! 

Speaking of misery… do you loathe the idea of office working and people-focused jobs? We’ve got the best jobs for introverts to help you find something more suited to you.

Average graduate starting salary London

As a fresh-faced graduate on their employment journey, the average graduate starting salary in London will differ depending on the type of job you’re in. 

According to the Institute of Student Employers, median graduate salaries across the UK start from £28,000 in Wales, all the way to London where the average graduate starting salary is believed to be closer to £34,500. 

It makes sense when you think about how high the cost of living is in London compared to elsewhere. If you are planning on moving to London after university though, don’t get your hopes up thinking that the first graduate job you’ll get will offer you £34k. If you’re applying for roles in banking or finance, which is what London is known for, you’d probably get a decent starting salary of around £31,000

If opting for a more creative role or something within humanities like publishing and journalism, expect your graduate starting salary to be closer to £22,500.


What is the minimum wage in the UK 2024?

The National Minimum Wage rates for 2024 are as follows:

  • Apprentice: £6.40 per hour
  • 16-17 Years Old: £6.40 per hour
  • 18-20 Years Old: £8.60
  • 21+: £11.44 (The National Living Wage)

It’s the law for your employer to pay at least the minimum wage for your age bracket.

What is minimum wage London?

The minimum wage for London is the same for elsewhere in the UK and is based on your age bracket. The National Living Wage for London is £11.44 for anyone aged 21 years old and over. 

The Real Living Wage is an “unofficial hourly rate” overseen by the Living Wage Foundation charity. The figure is based on what the charity believes people in the UK need to earn.

It’s not a legal requirement — businesses are able to choose whether to pay it or the National Minimum Wage (which is required by law).

According to the charity, the London Living Wage is £13.15 an hour. For the rest of the UK, the Living Wage is £12.

Shop our Student Beans Student Travel Discounts to help save money whether you’re commuting or holidaying.