London is often described in terms of how expensive it is a city to live in. This is certainly true when we compare London to other cities in the UK, but how does it compare internationally? As a financial hub, London is very much an international centre putting it in a separate league alongside New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo. So if we’re comparing London to those locations, how does it compare?
A study by CityAM looked at the basic costs of city life for those living and working in London’s financial centre. From the monthly travel card to the price of a morning coffee or a meal for two, how much things cost is a good basis for comparing the cost of living in a city.
In many ways London is more expensive than the others. It’s among the most expensive when it comes to transport, whether you travel by taxi or travel card. It’s also the most expensive if you grab a drink at the end of the day.
However when it comes to property, although many decry London’s expense it is still cheaper than New York. The study cites a one bedroom flat in the centre of the city which costs around £2,000 to rent.
In New York the disposable salary each month is just over £2k (£2119) with the average monthly rent for a one bedroom flat in the city centre priced at just under that, at £1949. In London, the disposable salary each month is £1940 with the average price of a one bedroom flat £1640 a month. In Singapore the figures drop to £1831 and £1483 for the flat, in Hong Kong the disposable salary each month is higher at £2024 and the average cost of the flat much cheaper at £1423. The price of a monthly train ticket is £39.17.
When food is compared a meal for two costs just under £50 in New York and exactly £50 in London. In Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo it is much cheaper with prices hovering around half that at £25. A pint of beer is most expensive in London, but a bottle of wine is most expensive in Singapore, hitting £13.68 while it is £9.59 in New York and £7 in London.
What does this mean for London? The financial hub means it is always more likely than other cities around the UK to attract the global professional elite, but how long will they stay in the capital for if it is expensive and will they want to live there full time if the cost of living is so high?
Alternative arrangements suddenly become more attractive. The opportunity of living in a serviced apartment for a fixed period of time to fulfil a contract in the city offers the option of reduced rates for an extended stay while apartments are located centrally. This raises the prospect of workers living on a fixed term period in the capital, knowing they can move elsewhere where it is cheaper for different parts of the year and still have the benefit of working in the capital.
As the cost of living rises in London the city doesn’t become less attractive to those who want to work in the City, or to experience the city’s lifestyle but it does raise the possibility of exploring cost-effective alternatives. For professional travellers, a serviced apartment could well offer the solution providing a cheaper living arrange in the heart of the capital without entering the capital’s expensive property market.