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London Living Costs Advice for Expatriates

Costs of Owning or Renting a Property in London

It is no secret that living in London is expensive, but on the flip side, wages are often considerably higher than in the rest of the country. To save you time, we have done the hard work for you and collated all the vital information you need for managing your money, which utilities you have to plan to pay, and settling into your new home when you move to London.

Your Home

If you haven’t secured accommodation through your job this will probably be the first thing you need to address. Property prices for both rental and buying vary hugely across the capital. Generally, the city center can be very expensive with some of the outer areas becoming much cheaper. London Property Watch is a good website for looking up rental and buying prices across the capital, but for rough costs a 1 bedroom flat in the city centre costs more than £1 million to buy and £2,500 per month to rent compared to, for example, Streatham (Zone 3) of £335,000 to purchase and £1,108 per month to rent.

Bills & Utilities

Depending your rental agreement or if you have purchased your own property, you will need to be aware of what utility bills you will have to pay. Some rental agreements include some or all bills within the monthly rent or if you have purchased a property you will need to pay them all. Below we detail the most common utility bills. If you are renting, check which of the blow are not covered in your agreement.

Council Tax

No matter whether you own or rent your property, you must pay council tax. Council tax goes to your local council for the upkeep of the local area, refuse collection, street lighting and often towards the local police and fire stations. The cost of council tax varies by council (there are many different councils within London) and also by the size of the property. Annual council tax costs can vary between £620.80 and £1,862.40 in the City of London. 

TV Licence

In the UK you MUST own a TV licence if you watch live TV programs or on-demand BBC programs on iPlayer. You do not need a TV licence if you use your TV (or computer) to watch DVDs or purely non BBC on-demand services such as Netflix & ITV hub. A TV licence costs £154.50 per year which can be paid annually or monthly. 

Power and Heating

The cost for powering and heating your home can vary a huge amount depending what plan you are on, with which provider, how big your home is, how many people live there and how careful you are with usage. The most common energy providers in London are EDF, British Gas, E-On and N-Power. When you move into a property you can stay with the provider that the previous tenant/owner used or shop around for a better deal and switch. There are many comparison sites you can visit to help find the best deal, including USwitch, Which, Money Supermarket and Go Compare. 


Every property in London pays for both how much water is used and a contribution to sewerage costs in the capital. Unlike power and heating, you are unable to move water suppliers. The most common water supplier is Thames Water. Many properties now have a water meter. This allows you to be charged for only what you use rather than a standard annual cost. If you do not have a water meter you can ask the provider for one to be installed. Many have reported a drop in their water cost after having a meter fitted. It is difficult to estimate the cost you might pay for water, however in 2015 the average UK household bill for water and sewerage was £385 per year. 

TV, Broadband and Phone

Many companies in the UK offer bundle deals on TV, broadband and phone line packages. The most popular companies are Sky, BT and Virgin Media. For broadband you usually have to pay for a phone line rental too. You can of course use different companies for different services and you don’t have to always have all three, but these generally offer the best prices. Make sure you ask about getting free calls to your home country as many services offer special features such as this. There is also a TV service in the UK called Freeview which offers hundreds of TV channels for free. To access this, you will need either a Freeview ready TV (most new TVs have this as standard) or a Freeview set top box. 

Medical Insurance for Expatriates

Moving to London should be an exciting experience, not a daunting one. We at Healthcare International want to help to make it the best transition possible so you can love our city just as much as we do. If you have taken out medical insurance from us for your trip, one of our friendly staff is just a call away and ready to help you.

If you haven’t yet taken out healthcare to cover your trip to the UK it is important that you do. Visit the healthcare page on our website here for more information on the services we provide or call one of our London based sales staff on +44 (0)207 590 8800