London, UK: You Are The Most Expensive City In The World!

Big Ben, London UKRecently, I hopped over to the United Kingdom to meet some friends and perspective clients in London with a buddy.  I have been everywhere, and I mean everywhere in Asia, Europe, South America, and the United States.

Despite my time in Tokyo, Osaka, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York City, San Francisco, Paris, Rio, Barcelona, and Venice, I can comfortably say that London, with its Great Britain Pound and $50+ million dollar royal wedding is absolutely the most expensive city in the entire world!

Here’s a sample itinerary of what I spent on a Friday.  I’ve recorded to the best of my ability what I spent to give you an idea of what food, lodging, clothing, and transportation costs go for in London and how it compares to your city.  Don’t shit a brick!

LONDON HOTELS

The Dorchester, Park Lane  Mayfair, London, W1K 1QA, United Kingdom.  The Dorchester Hotel is located in Mayfair, overlooking Hyde Park.  The location cannot be beat as we got to walk around everywhere.  It has a couple of the most famous restaurants in Alain Ducasse and China Tang, and readers know I love to eat to my gut’s dismay!  The Landmark, Le Meridien Piccadilly, and The Grosvernor Square were other recommendations.  However, I chose The Dorchester because of the location and the fact that there was a deal.  Only 400 GBP per night from 700 GBP usually!

You’re thinking, what the hell?!  Guess what?  So was I!  I can’t believe I’m saving US$475 a night with this deal.  Sign me up!  For only US$635 a night, I got to stay in a “Superior” Queen Room, and that’s the discounted rate.  There is nowhere I have ever been, where I had to pay US$635 for a normal room with a queen size bed.

LONDON FOOD

Local London food is not very interesting.  But, since London has every single type of restaurant in the world, there’s no dearth of choices to choose from.  As the budget conscience person that I am, I hopped over to McDonald’s after walking around Piccadilly Circus to buy a healthy Royale with Cheese.  The price: GBP 4.19.  US$6.50 is literally double what a Big Mac costs in San Francisco.  Pass!

There is a huge Indian population in London, so I decided to try my luck at a alley way Indian restaurant.  The more run down, the better I figured.  I was craving for some chicken tikka masala with garlic naan until I looked at the price.  GBP 14, and that was just for the chicken tikka masala!  A garlic naan was GBP 5 extra for a total cost of US$30 before tip.  You can get some of the best Indian food at a divvy place called Shalamar in San Francisco for $12 for similar items.  I spend GBP 19 anyway.

For dinner, we went to this Italian restaurant called Zucca on 184 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ.  We ordered some seafood capaccio, porchetta, taglierini, fish, and several glasses of wine.  Total cost including tip was about GBP 100, or US$158.  Take a look at the menu.  The prices don’t look that crazy actually, but things start adding up with the wine, taxes, and tip.

UK CLOTHING

No trip to London is complete without getting some custom tailor made dress shirts, overcoats, jackets, and maybe even shoes on Bond Street.  Bond Street is on the West End of London and runs north-south through Mayfair between Oxford Street and Piccadilly.  You have every single luxury goods brand store there, which is not my cup of tea.  Instead, I like to get tailored clothes from smaller stores such as Thomas Pink and TM Lewin.

I’ve got to say that I was surprised how relatively inexpensive tailored shirts and jackets are in London.  I picked up a TM Lewin, blue pinstriped suite with pants for just GBP 250.  Meanwhile, I got three Thomas Pink dress shirts for around GBP 60 each.  These prices are comparable, if not cheaper that the prices in America.  On top of that, they are tailored, which to me, is worth much, much more.

LONDON TRANSPORTATION

We mostly walked everywhere, but of course, we had to take the famous Tube and London Cabs.  A 1-day Tube travel card is GBP 7.20 and we took a GBP 10 cab ride.  San Francisco cab fairs are some of the highest in the world, so I didn’t think transportation costs were that out of hand.  Petrol prices on the other hand are 2X higher than here in the US.  We are talking $9/gallon!

TOTAL SPENDING: ~ US$1,300 for one day!  Excluding clothing, around $800 just to live. Take $800 and multiply it by 365 days a year and that’s US$292,000 one needs to make to live at The Dorchester and feel relatively comfortable.  Let’s goose that figure up to US$350,000/year to account for entertainment and travel for one individual.  That’s right, I estimate one needs to make around US$300,000 a year +/- $50,000 to feel like they can feel comfortable living in London.  You won’t be saving that much with that income mind you.  Just comfortable spending.

CONCLUSION : CAN’T AFFORD LONDON, UK!

The reason why London is so expensive is because it is the financial center of all of Europe.  London is much like New York City, but 25% more expensive in my mind.  London faces a domestic demand curve and an international demand curve.  There are so many tycoons from all over the continent (think Russia) that purchase a pied de terre that property prices are truly insane.  We’re talking easily US$2,500/square foot for well located properties in the city.

US$2.5 million dollar 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condominiums that are 1,000sqft are common place.  Can you imagine spending that much?  Even here in San Francisco, it only costs you about $1.8 million to buy something similar in the St. Regis.  But then again, $1.65 million buys you that one story, 1,800 square foot dump in Palo Alto!

Those who work and save in London are actually quite fortunate.  When they retire, they can literally move to any other city in the world and immediately make their money grow.  I have the same feeling living and working in San Francisco.  However, there are now three cities which I know I will not comfortably be able to retire in: Tokyo, New York City, and now London!

Readers, have you ever been to or lived in London?  What do you think about the prices there compared to everywhere else in the world? What is the most expensive city you’ve ever visited or lived in?

Any readers from the London or UK?  If so, I’d love to hear more about your country from your perspective.

Photo: Big Ben, London.  Yes, it is dreary in London all the time! SD

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. says

    Yes. I was there two weeks ago staying at the Grosvner Marriott (no choice since I was there for work but ok) which is in the same area as the Dorchester (which I’ve stayed in before). It was good being able to walk around to many of the places I wanted to see. Sadly, not enough time to do everything.

    I agree on costs – London is really really expensive with some exceptions – books are a lot cheaper than HK and London still has some really great book shops and shoes. Made in China running shoes are about 40% cheaper than the same shoes are in Hong Kong in spite of the VAT and the cost of shipping them to the UK.

    Not sure I agree with you about being better off working and saving in London and then being better off retireing to a lower cost of living area – presumably the higher cost of living would eat into savings meaning you have to work for longer. Then again, that’s where the high paying jobs are…..

    • says

      nice. What were you doing there? Brokering some big deals perhaps? How much was Grosvner Marriot/night?

      Books and China running shoes…. where those things you sought to buy there?

      I’m pretty sure one comes out a head usually in big cities b/c of pay, and relocation during retirement.

  2. David M says

    5 years ago I spent a week in Londan for WORK – thus, everything was paid for.

    Even though I was going to get reimbursed for all the money I spent – in order to keep my sanity, I just thought of the prices as being in US $. Thus when we spent 30 GBP for a nice Indian dinner, which was abotu $60 at the time, I just calculated that it was $30 and said not bad.

    We took the trains and cabs around the city – again very expensive but I just thought about it like I was paying in US$.

    I agree with “Traineeinvestor” about certain things being more expensive in other places but what he is also saying is that other things in these locations are cheaper. For example, hotels are extremely expensive in Singapore. However, food and transportation are cheaper than the US.

    Also in many places the spread of the costs of things varies greatly and thus you can splurge sometimes and save money at other times. Great places to do this with food are cities like, Mumbai, Seoul and Bangkok. I can eat a meal one night in any of those cities for a certain price and the next night eat for 10% of that amount.

    One night in Bangkok I could eat at Lord Jims and The Oriental and the next night it can be chicken rice at a local chicken rice restaurant – the difference in cost in this example would be more like 95% – however both nights would be fantastic.

      • David M says

        Bangkok is definately a place that I never tire of and probably is my favorite city.

        So much to do, so many great places to eat, so much shopping, great people watching, etc.

        Below I mentioned that Helsinki was my favorite, however, I have only spent one day there and had a great day. But most likely you are correct – Bangkok is my favorite city.

  3. says

    London is expensive, but I didn’t feel it was prohibitively so the last time I was there. Perhaps I am just used to expensive real estate, being from Singapore. London property is being marketed as being a real good bargain for investors now, and I have to agree when I compare to property prices at home.

    Personally, I thought Norway the most expensive place I have ever been to. Would love to visit Norway again, but having a hard time justifying the cost.

    • David M says

      Real Estate might be as expensive in Singapore as London – as the hotel rooms in Singapore are very expensive. I was just there in December is the cheapest room I could find for a decent room was about $200 singapore $ or about $150 US.

      However, other things in Singapore are much less expensive in Singapore than London. I think taxi and subway are much less expensive. Additionally, I think a meal at a local restaurant is much less expensive in Singapore than London. Alcohol excluded of course!!! (Alcohol in Singapore is VERY expensive!)

      • says

        Ah yes, alcohol is CRAZY expensive in Singapore! Love their government controls to control drinking!

        We should make cigarettes $25/pack here in the US, with the tariff used to donate to our public education school system.

        • David M says

          Sam,

          Do you smoke? If not I think you proposing to increase taxes on cigerettes goes against you principle of voting to increase taxes that affect other people?

          I do not smoke, think cigarettes are bad for people BUT I actually think cigarette taxes are to high already. People that smoke may have higher healthcare costs, but, they are likely to die earlier than non smokers – this might already even out the costs. However, we then charge them what $4 a pack in tax?

        • David M says

          Thanks for the reply!

          I’m very happy that you are not breaking your own rule – since you smoke and thus you would pay the increased tax – you have not broken your rule about being in favor of taxes that do not impact you.

          I smoke on cigarette a YEAR and really enjoy that one cigarette.

  4. says

    I’ve only been to London twice – although even that is a little misleading. I hung out in the airport for several hours on a layover to India and stayed overnight on the way back on British Airways’ dime when my flight was delayed. I highly recommend staying in a nice London hotel and getting food and transportation all for free – it was a great experience!

    In all seriousness, though, that does sound crazy expensive. If I ever went again I would stay with relatives I have there, but it would still probably be a very expensive trip. India was a totally different story. Food, travel, clothing, and housing were all crazy cheap. I was there for about two weeks and only spent about $250 US on all the food and souvenirs. I even went to the Taj Mahal (about $30 for Americans) and went para sailing in Goa.

    • says

      Wow…. $250 for 2 weeks in India is cheap! I’ll have to write a post about my time in Mumbai and New Delhi sometime. Too bad, or not bad I went there for business.

      Was Goa amazing? I’ve never been. I fear there are no clean beaches and clear water in India…

      • says

        You should totally write about that! Goa was beautiful. The beach we went to was amazing. We went to a pretty touristy area, which was worth it for the clean sand and water. I highly recommend it!

        • David M says

          Yes the food in India is so cheap and so delicious!

          The spicest food that I have ever eaten was from a very local restaurant in Goa – wow was my head sweeting. Even though spicy it was very delicious.

          Southern India is so cheap – about 5 years ago I was there and we were spending about $.50 for all you can eat vegatarian lunch called “meals”.

  5. says

    Well, last September we spend one day in Helsinki, and thought that was one of a hell wallet emptying experiences. But I cannot compare our expenses to one day in London you had! Wow! I am not surprised-surprised, but you just put it for me into a nice perspective. I need to remove London from my “places to see before I die” list. :) I always tried to avoid London because I knew how expensive it was. But I did not realize my “how expensive” is not even close to what you just described.

    • David M says

      Helsinki maybe the place I like best in the world! However, I spent one September day there about 20 years ago and it was beautifully sunny and about 80F with low humidity, maybe that is why I have such great memories of my visit.

      I went by boat there and back – which used to be free with a Eurail pass – thus the cost for me was not that high at all.

  6. says

    And I thought New York was expensive. It must be hard to become wealthy living in London because people must not be saving and investing very much after paying for living expenses.

  7. says

    I love London! Here are my tips for an affordable stay while in Old Blighty:
    1.) Stay with relatives who live about 30 minutes outside of London = free, comfortable lodging! No relatives there? Then try to make some friends prior to your trip….
    2.) Get the all-day Tube/Train pass – take the train from lodging (see #1) into London and then travel London by foot or by Tube. No taxi is necessary!
    3.) Eat pub food, which is always filling and cheap. Also, you can get “street food” like Cornish Pasties quite cheap, too.
    4.) Speaking of pubs, this is a good place to score a free drink or two if you are a woman. If you are a man, why not buy a lady a drink just to be nice? Haha! English cider is the BEST and I will never turn down a pint or three from a well-wisher!
    5.) Shop at the local street fairs. You won’t get a custom made suit but you can get hot trends at great prices!
    6.) Not exactly “cheap,” but a visit to the Imperial War Museum is always worth the time.

    • says

      Excellent tips Denise! In response:

      * Will try and make friends so I can sleep with them, I mean with them, I mean..
      * Will look up how to do a pain-free sex change for free drinks
      * Will learn to like English food, blehhhhh.
      * Will erase Bond St. from my mind!

      :)

      S

    • says

      I’d also say remember that the UK is small. Very small. If you stay in Oxford, for instance (well worth a visit if you’re in the UK), the hotel prices are much cheaper. You’re also only an hour away from central London by train. If you book your tickets online in advance, your ticket could cost you under £10.

      It’s also worth remembering that most museums in London are free, while the likes of the London Dungeon and, dare I say it, the London Eye just aren’t worth it.

      • says

        There’s no way I’m flying all the way out to be a tourist in London and staying an hour away if I didn’t have anybody to visit there. But then again, maybe I will now that I realize how expensive it is! Never been to Oxford either.

  8. Gem says

    I’ve lived in London for 5 years and it is very expensive…but of course it will be staying at the Dorchester (even with a deal), buying suits in bond street, using taxis and tube instead of bus, and eating at restaurants like zucca-not the most expensive but more so than the average!

    • says

      I hear ya mate. What can I say? I was on a business/tourist trip, wanted to see the sites, and didn’t have anywhere to crash! What do you think one has to make to live a comfortable lifestyle in London?

  9. Gem says

    I would say about £35k if you don’t have debt. That’s based on sharing rent with one other…I guess it also depends on definition of comfortable too-for me it would be having money after bills to spend on eating out a few times with husband and friends/cinema/a bit of shopping/annual holiday and some for saving. I moved to London and did the getting into debt by spending money on London niceties I couldn’t afford thing! Now I’m focusing on paying off that debt. To own property somewhere like Mayfair and live the high life in london I think you need to be a multi-millionaire! My point earlier was just that you can live in London without earning huge sums if you avoid the Dorchester and expensive restaurants on a daily basis :)

    • says

      Only 35K pounds a year (where is the pound sign on my keyboard btw?!)? That’s about $52,000 a year US. Hmmm….. maybe if your roommate was your significant other, and you rented a 1 bedroom about 30 minute outside of London yeah? With 35K pounds a year, technically, the MOST you can ever save is 35K pounds a year minus taxes.

      I wouldn’t feel comfortable… but, to each their own right?

      You saying my 200K pounds a year estimate for London living is too high? :)

        • says

          Ha! I guess I’m way out there then! Guess the definition of the word “comfortable” can mean different things to different people!

          As a Londoner, perhaps you can write a post and share with us how to save money in London for us foreigners who might be crazy enough to want to stay there for longer than a week! I do love the charm and tradition though. Can’t be beat!

  10. says

    You definitely enjoyed the 5 star route. I guess chalk it up to the experience. The last time I actually stayed in London, the exchange rate was 1 British pound to a U.S. dollar (1985). We only stayed in London 2 nites overlooking Hyde Park (close to Speaker’s corner). In those days it was $100 per nite. We traveled up and down England and Scotland. We stayed mostly in manor houses. Our last night, we stayed at Gravetye Manor (East Sussex) cost was $100 per nite (1985). Now a similar room is just under 300 British Pounds.
    Ironically, my favorite experience was a B & B in Calendar, Scotland. We paid the lowly sum of $20 per nite then and it was the best because of the people. More than 25 years later, I still remember the people and the experience. I “value” the experience more than just spending a lot of money. In contrast, I spent $30 for a couple pancakes in Amsterdam 5-6 years ago. It was the best I have ever had.

  11. says

    London is ridiculous! I’ve been there a few times and dislike it more and more. I can’t enjoy a 9 dollar small beer(that’s also warm). I went to Thailand and lived like a King for two weeks spending barely $100 a day.

    Btw, I have been to Shalamar in SF and that place is awesome! (Although my friends and I did coin the phrase Shalamar as taking a huge dump after eating there, haha)

      • says

        Have some good HS friends that I visit in SF once a year(probably head up in a month or two). I only go to London when I’m forced, stopped for a few days before I studied abroad in Hungary, family wedding, etc… Never want to go back haha

    • David M says

      Thanks for the BIG LOL!!!!!! Yes I heard about so low level chain hotel (do not remember the name) that was going to be over $800 a night during the Olympics!

  12. Jeff Crews says

    Never been to London. However, I would love to go an EPL game and try some of that Indian food. I am looking at going to Hawaii for an extended vaca. Have you been there? Cost of living way more than the Mainland?

  13. says

    I went to London maybe 4 or 5 years ago. It was crazy expensive then and I see things haven’t changed! It’s a fun city to explore but money disappears way too quick there. At least a lot of the museums were free! :)

  14. says

    London is cloudy, cold and dreary. Next time come to Bangkok and you can have an executive suite at the Oriental for the same price as the Dorchester, get an amazing Indian meal for just $15 and have your pick of tailors who will make you 3 shirts for $99. Oh, and a taxi across town will set you back all of $3. And if you miss London there are plenty of Brits here escaping the cold and expense back in the UK.

    • David M says

      Wow have prices gone UP on shirts or do you use an expensive tailor? (Or possibly your just putting an approximate price.)

      I have had suits and shirts made at Narry’s on Sukhimvit and am very happy with the quality.

      I got 5 shirts made for $100 2 years ago at Narry’s and I love wearing them.

      Bangkok is a GREAT city – we have been there about 10 times over the last 15 years. Flights in and out of Bangkok and then we visit Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia.

      We love Lord Jim’s Buffet lunch at The Oriental – lots of delicious sushi!

  15. says

    Prices have gone UP on everything in Bangkok. I’m not positive about the 3 for $99 (mostly because I don’t use the tailors), but I’m pretty sure and will make it a point to take a closer look next time I go out.

    Lord Jim’s buffet is outstanding. Toss up whether that one or the one at the Peninsula is better. We usually descend on the buffets on Sunday’s to replace all the calories we’ve avoided during the week :)

    • David M says

      For those that do not eat sushi – the Peninsula may be better. I was there about 3 years ago for lunch and what they had was great. HOWEVER, they did not have any sushi or sashimi – maybe things have changed.

      For breakfast my favorite buffet is at the Shangir-la – great service, great location and very good food. Virtually everyone that eats there is staying at the hotel – something I definately do not to – way to much money for me.

      I am definately willing to go to eat at a luxery hotel – I am not willing to pay the $$$$ for a luxery hotel room though. We did stay 5 nights at the Intercontinental hotel a few years ago – but – we used POINTS. We showed up with our backpacks – but will still treated wonderfully.

  16. BrokeElizabeth says

    Ick, I really don’t like London… right now I’m living in Edinburgh and I lurve it. Yes, the UK is more expensive than the States for day-to-day living, but if you cut back on certain things it can be cheaper overall. It just takes a lot of planning :).

      • BrokeElizabeth says

        It looks like you can get a 1 bedroom flat for about £600 a month. I’m currently looking at a small bedroom in a five person flat for £300, including utilities, but it’s definitely more suited to a student like me than a professional, and it’s not in the city centre. £200k looks pretty average for a flat in the city.

        As for things to do… there’s a series of festivals during the summer that draw a ridiculous number of tourists. The Fringe festival in August is the most popular, with comedy, music, theatre, and dance…. 2,500 shows from 60 countries. Other than the festivals, there are national museums, galleries, historical buildings, pretty much all of the normal stuff. It’s more ‘doable’ than London because it’s much more compact. You can pretty much walk everywhere, or get a day bus pass for £3.20.

  17. says

    I’m curious about the rent. Is rent as insane as purchasing property? I’d also be curious about groceries? I would think that the people living there aren’t all wealthy. They probably know where to buy groceries on the cheap, eat at a local pub, and just walk everywhere. I’ve been to London and Edinburgh, Scotland once. I loved it – but it was much too chilly for my liking. It’s always interesting comparing the European lifestyle to the American one.

  18. says

    As a Londoner, I have to ask why oh why you decided to go to the most expensive places in London. And I’m talking Russian oligarch expensive here.

    The Dorchester Hotel is reknowned as one of the most expensive hotels in London, up there with the likes of The Ritz and The Savoy. Think about it. There’s a reason, a very good reason, why Mayfair is blue on the Monopoly Board. Nobody in their right mind spends more than two seconds oggling the Ferrari shop on Park Lane before moving swiftly on to the much cheaper areas very close by.

    Secondly Piccadilly Circus for dinner?? That’s crazy. Soho is right next door with oodles of extremely low-priced restaurants. And Bermondsey Street? That’s right off Tower Bridge, close to the City and thousands upon thousands of bankers with money to burn. You’d have had a much cheaper dining experience in nearby Lambeth.

    London cabs are also outrageously expensive (and they’ll set the meter higher the moment the hear an American accent). The London bus network is extensive, efficient, extremely simple to use and much cheaper than a tube. Buying an Oyster card as opposed to a ticket makes travel much cheaper. (Oyster cards are also a good way of currying favour with local Londoners- there’s nothing we get angrier about than tourists who spend an age putting their ticket into the machine at tube station barriers).

    As for living in London? For the significant numbers of us who rent, London is a tough place to live. The cost of rental properties are rocketing here at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country. The cost of living is also much higher (higher grocery and travel prices).

    As for owning property in London to sell on in the future, the recently increased stamp duty will definitely dampen those plans. As for savings? Take a look at our rock-bottom interest rates and decide for yourself just how rosy the future looks for British savers.

    • says

      Oh, great, so NOW you tell me not to stay at The Dorchester, go to Piccadilly Circus for dinner, and take a bus instead! Thanks a lot! Where were you before I went out?

      Could you tell me what the range is per month for a well-located (in London pls within 25 min of downtown) 2 bedroom, 2bathroom, 100-125sqm (1,000-1,300 sqft) condo cost to RENT and to buy?

      It’s about $3,500-$4,500/month USD here in SF for really solid locations. thx

      • Richard says

        I thought I’d share my thoughts regarding housing costs as this is something that I pay attention to as a property investor here in London –

        Generally speaking a 2 bed 2 bath condo (flat) in the UK wouldn’t be in the region of 100-125sqm!

        For us 100-125sqm is the size of a good sized 3 bedroom HOUSE! Personally I have a large 4 bed house, which at 175sqm is considered to be quite big. 2 bed 2 bath flats are normally in the region of 60-90sqm in size. As you can see, we do tend to live in smaller spaces, generally because we’re an island with limited land. Still, our places are bigger than in Hong Kong!

        Costs vary wildly in London depending on what district you’re in. To purchase something like a 60-90sqm flat, you could go as low as £160,000 (i.e. Croydon, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets) to as high as £2,000,000 in places like Mayfair, Kensington, Belgravia. But call it in average of around £300,000 – £400,000 for a 2 bed 2 bath in what I think would be an ok neighbourhood (i.e. Ealing, Acton, Shepherds Bush, Hackney, Stoke Newington, Brockley, Wimbledon, etc).

        To rent, probably about £1,400 / month+ for somewhere ok at this sort of size but once again very variable depending on which neighbourhood you live in.

        • says

          Seems pretty reasonable to me!

          So is your 175sqm house much higher than 2 million pounds then?

          1,400/month in rent seems VERY reasonable for a 2/2 in a good location in London! PErhaps I’m wrong!

        • Richard says

          Actually I bought in a cheap (I would say underpriced) area (border of tube map zone 2 and 3 South East London) so it cost me the same amount as a small 2 bed flat in a more expensive area (i.e. somewhere like Fulham, Zone 2 West London). The house itself is currently worth in the region of around £450k.

          There’s a huge price difference involved based on location, and also proximity to a tube station. SE London has generally not been well connected on the tube for historical reasons and hence prices are lowest in this corner of the city (even though there is plenty of alternative transport via train – I can be at London Bridge in 8 minutes for instance). Interestingly my area is marked as being on the plan for a tube line extension in about 5-7 years time so for the long haul I’m gonna hang onto this one as the property price will soar once that happens.

          There are a few areas in London that are undergoing gentrification – once down at the heels areas are now in vogue. Areas coming up now are places like North Kensington, Shoreditch, Hackney, Bethnal Green, Dalston, Ladywell, Brockley, Shepherds Bush, Kings Cross.

          Also you can get some real bargains here if you put in the time to look around and are willing to do some DIY or get the builders in to do a refurbishment.

        • says

          Richard I think you know an awful lot more than me on this front! My boyfriend bought the house I currently live in. 4 bedroom house for £350,000 (a bargain!). However it’s in a cheap area (Seven Sisters) around 20 minutes from a tube station and it needs considerable investment. A house of a similar size in nearby Stoke Newington would have cost him much more.

          In terms of rent, it really depends on location. This site can give you some idea about the variations by postcode http://www.londonpropertywatch.co.uk/average_rental_prices.html

  19. says

    i have to say that the quality of life in the US is seriously much better.I know many people in london that live in government leased accommodation.Very few people actually spend the way we do.Call it a “European” way of life,but they are more “responsible” about the way they spend.

  20. says

    My last real foray in Europe was when I was 6 years old. Other than a layover in Amsterdam last year, haven’t been. $40 just for a breakfast there! ;)

    One day I want to do an Eurotrip, but that one day will be when I can afford it, haha! Until then there are a lot of places on the world that are also very interesting, and don’t cost a fortune…

  21. says

    We spent 2 nights in London 4 years ago (exchange rate was aprox 1 pound = $2), and no way spent that much.
    We stayed in a chain hotel a few blocks away from a tube station. We bought half price theater tickets from the same day seller in the tube station. We went to the British Museum (free) and ate at an Indian restaurant on Brick Lane (our favorite local Indian restaurant is just as good). Otherwise we ate pub food or street food.
    After that, we picked up our rental car and headed Southwest to Devonshire (stopping at Stonehenge along the way). I actually remember Bath being the most expensive place we visited on that trip, but that may be because Bath is lined with high end shops and we avoided those areas in London.

  22. says

    I’ve been to London and love it. Given I stayed in a hostel (about $25-$30 per night USD) and searched off the beaten track for delicious ethnic foods on the East End and enjoyed the many free museums while touring, I didn’t find it as expensive as my time in Paris a few days later.

    I have seriously considered if London will be a longer term stop some day in my future.

  23. Richard says

    Speaking as a Londoner, YES it is an expensive city BUT think about it – we have a lot of ethnic immigrants come here, some of whom live and work at or below minimum wage (around £5.50 / hour). These people live alongside others earning £4+ million per year. What I’m saying is that there is something for every budget here if you know where to look.

    The trick like in any city is to know where to go for certain things – a little local knowledge goes a long way. Me and another friend of mine (who is Indian and doesn’t like to waste a penny) used to regularly meet up to eat curry in a what is actually a relatively posh part of London (Fulham). This would typically cost about £3.50 a plate each (Naan – £0.90) and so it’s not expensive. Great curry is found in the following areas: Whitechapel and Stepney around the Brick Lane area, Tooting and also Southall. Thai food is scattered around, and we get Japanese sushi at half price (£6 tray reduced to £3) after 8pm from the Japan Centre (Picadilly) which also has a sit down area. Personally I don’t think much of local English cuisine as I eat mainly vegetarian and fish, but you can experience some great culinary delights at Borough Market (nearest tube: London Bridge). Food there’s not cheap but quality is high!

    I must say, I can’t believe how ripped off you were on your Indian meal! Naan doesn’t normally cost more than £2 and I wouldn’t pay more than £10 for a main dish unless I was eating in a posh restaurant for a change. Personally I don’t eat at posh restaurants so much because even though I earn a lot, I’d rather invest my money into growing my assets. As you say, living in London is a great opportunity because IF you can control your expenses and earn a lot you’ll reap the rewards.

    Next time you visit, do check out Brick Lane (nearest tube: Whitechapel). If you want cheap but good food, two chains of restaurants – Giraffe and Pizza Express are both pretty good – figure about £12-15 per person excluding wine.

    Clothes here are more expensive and generally I think buying them in America is a better deal (I normally fill a suitcase up coming when I visit). We do tend to spend less on clothes however as we air dry our clothes instead of using a tumble dryer. I guess compared with America, we learn to make do with a little less.

    Also places like Primark and H&M offer pretty good discounts. Marks and Spencer being known for good quality at reasonable prices. For tailored clothes, I personally prefer to buy these in India or Thailand. Both countries have excellent tailors.

    If you ever visit London again, drop me a line and I’d be happy to give you some recommendations to make your trip both cost effective AND fun!

    • says

      Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll check the budget stuff out.

      You should try eating at some of the “posh” restaurants once a month or two and check them out! Could be fun and expanding.

      I will let you know next time I’m there. tx!

  24. says

    I love London! I was there last year for work, and it was my third visit to the UK. I stayed in the Strand, got rush tickets to several shows, and walked all around the city. (In between working, of course). Big cities can be pricey, but you can really cut down on expenses by walking and using public transport, visiting the grocery store for breakfast food and snacks, and taking advantage of healthy, cheap eats (Pret a Manger, for instance).

    Check out the list of the highest cost of living cities in the world: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/02/the-10-most-expensive-cities-in-the-world-and-how-they-got-that-way/253149/. I live in a city that’s pricier than London, but since we don’t own a car and we live frugally, our living expenses are about half our take-home pay. You just prioritize differently, I think.

  25. says

    My last foray to the UK was mostly around Poole, on the south coast. Although cheaper than London, it’s still a pricey tourist town (like comparing Carmel or Monterey to SF). Lucky for me, the travel was all done on the company dime, since the hotel and restaurant bills were all nausea-inducing.

  26. says

    This month (March 2012), the average rent in London hit £3206 ($5105) per month. As you wrote, this is because of a high domestic and international demand. For example, there are 428,255 international students in the UK, 26% of them in London. This number is growing, and so is the rent. The Guardian, one of the UK’s largest newspapers reported yesterday that London rent was increasing 7.8% year-on-year!

    This is a huge problem that everyone is aware of, and new services are coming about to try and help. For example,uhouse.co helps students find affordable accommodation. It lists all the properties within a student budget.

  27. says

    I spent almost three weeks in the UK last year, most of it in London. But I did it on the cheap, e.g., a hostel just off Piccadilly Circus, a weekly transit pass, many meals from the supermarket (e.g., bread and cheese and veggies).
    If I’d stayed in a B&B or hotel, I would have been able to afford less than a week.
    Incidentally, two of the people staying in my hostel room were there for job interviews. Another was there from Ireland to see an opera.

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