Cost of Living for a Family in the UK [2022]

No one would describe the UK as an inexpensive place to live, but it’s a bargain compared to other EU countries like Luxembourg and Ireland. Though the cost of living in the UK is pretty high, the high salaries offer a comfortable lifestyle, especially for expats. 

A family of four would need approximately £4,235 to live comfortably in the UK. A couple might spend £27,340 per year, £2,278 a month, or £480 a week in the UK, and a family of three would require about £3,500 a month to cover average expenses.

This article explores the various factors that make up living costs for a family in this beautiful country. It looks into the significant expenses such as transportation, education, housing, healthcare, and food in detail and their average costs.

How much does it cost for a family to live in the UK in 2022? 

The cost of living for families in the UK has tremendously increased over the last two years. According to a report by the Guardian, a further increase will take place in the last quarter of 2022. 

Your cost of living in the UK will significantly depend on your choices, circumstances, and tastes. However, on average, a household in the UK requires around £585.60 per week; this amount includes housing, bills, food, and transport.

The cost of living in the UK also varies across the country – in London, for example, the cost of living is very high compared to other cities like Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland.

Below is a graph showing the cost of living for an average household in various cities within the UK:

Source: abcfinance.co.uk

Housing

In the UK, the housing may take up the most significant portion of a family’s budget items. The average rental cost in the UK in 2021 is at an average of £1,007 a month while buying one is about £238,519. 

The city you live in the UK highly influences your cost of housing. For example, a one-bedroom in London costs about £1,272 in rent per month while one in Edinburgh is £1,250. 

Housing will cost you a decent amount, especially if you decide to purchase a house. Read this article explaining high housing prices in the UK.

Here are tables indicating the average monthly rent prices in two major cities in the UK; Manchester and London:

 London

Type of houseMonthly renting costBuying cost
One-bedroom apartment (outside of city center)£1,272£365,000
One-bedroom apartment (city center)£1,662£450,089
Three bedroom apartment (outside of city center)£2,081£550,000
Three bedroom apartment (city center)£3,188£825,080
Source: London housing report

Read our guide on rent prices in London.

Manchester

ManchesterMonthly renting costBuying cost
One-bedroom apartment (outside of city center)£569£172,995
One-bedroom apartment (city center)£849£190,000
Three bedroom apartment (outside of city center)£935£329,995
Three bedroom apartment (city center)£1,469£419,989
Source: zoopla.co.uk

Healthcare 

A recent report by the Commonwealth Fund shows that UK healthcare is the 4th best globally. One of the perks of living in the UK is that this high-quality healthcare is free to all residents, and expats can benefit too, thanks to the National Health Service (NHS).

There are things that aren’t covered by the UK’s free healthcare system which you may have to pay for as a family. It’s therefore wise to get health insurance from a prominent company such as Cigna Global.

Here is a table showing the various average charges you can expect for healthcare services in the UK:

ServiceAverage cost
Prescription charges£9.35
Dental charges£23.80 – £282.80
12-month PPC£108.1
3-month PPC (prescription prepayment certificate)£30.25
Source: UK national statistics – ons.gov.uk

Food and groceries

According to BBC News, the average annual food cost for a typical UK household is approximately £5,028, £60 per week in 2022. This varies depending on where the family shops and their lifestyle.

The UK has a string of affordable supermarkets, such as Aldi and Lidl, which have various quality products at reasonably low prices.

There are also mid-range supermarkets like Tesco, Sainsbury Asda, and Morrisons, which have excellent prices. To get the latest average prices for staple products, visit this website.

Transport

Traveling by car in the cities in the UK is often relatively slow due to traffic jams, making public transportation a smart choice. The public transport network in the UK is incredible, but buying tickets can be pricey.

Here is a table showing the standard modes of transport in the UK and their ticket costs:

Mode of TransportTicket Fare
Train£12 to £13
Bus£1 to £2
Taxi£6 to £90
Tube£4 to £5
Cycle£2 for 30 minutes
Source: Transport for London – tfl.gov.uk

If you choose to buy a car, a simple one like a new Toyota Corolla or a VW Golf will cost you about £23,013.

However, it may be a very costly investment if you live in major cities like London, where parking charges and fuel costs are pretty high.

How much money does a family need to live comfortably in the UK?

A couple in the UK can live comfortably on £27,340 per year, £2,278 a month, or £480 a week. If you have children, you’ll have more significant expenses, requiring more money.

A couple with a one-year-old can maintain a pretty comfortable lifestyle with £49,714 annually or £4,142 monthly. 

If you have older children, you require less money to take care of them due to the steep costs of childcare in the UK.

For instance, if you are a couple with a child of primary school age, you will be comfortable with about £31,902 a year.

Learn how much you will earn in the UK in our detailed article on British salaries.

Average cost of living in the UK for a family of 4

The average cost of living for a family of four in the UK depends on your location and lifestyle. Nonetheless, on average, you need about £2,659 per month, house rent excluded, to live comfortably in the UK. 

Considering the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment (£1,576), a family of four will need about £4,235 for a comfortable living in the UK.

A the same time, the suggested cost of living for a family of 4 is £3,978 per month.

The most significant factor to consider if you have a family of four is accommodation costs. The amount varies depending on your location and the kind of house you choose to live in.

Suppose you are a couple with a boy and a girl, in that case, you’ll need to live in a three-bedroom. A 3-bedroom apartment in a place around a 20-minute train ride from the center will cost you £1,400 per month.

If you have two children of the same gender, you can get a two-bedroom, which would cost about £1,100.

If you decide to use public transport, you’ll need to set aside at least £557 per month. You can also get a car which will cost you £2,000 per year to maintain. 

When it comes to food, preparing it at home is a cheaper option than eating out. However, you can go somewhere on average twice a month, which will cost you about £300. You can tweak your preference and choices to lower the expense. 

If you are a couple and have two children, here is a breakdown of your average expenses per month:

  • Rent: £1,576
  • Food: £860
  • Transportation: £557
  • Childcare: £2,626 – depends
  • Other necessities: £1,030

Additionally, the following expenses are automatically deducted from your gross salary. Whereas self-employed will need to take care of them on their own:

  • Healthcare: £1,172
  • Taxes: £1,854

Cost of living in the UK for a family of 3

The cost of living will depend on how and where you live. If you’re paying a mortgage in one of the major cities and your child is in one of the nearby local schools, you will need around £3,500 – £4,000 a month.

Suppose you’re in a one-bedroom rented apartment outside the city center, and your child is at a local primary school; you can survive on £2,000 to £3,000 per month, rent excluded.

A two-bed in a decent neighborhood will averagely cost you between £1,100 and £1,800 per month. If you decide to buy a medium-size flat, it will cost you £171,223 in total and around £2,000 a year to maintain it.

House groceries will be between £500 – £800 per month, depending on your eating habits and where you shop. Some affordable stores that you can consider are Morrison, Waitrose, Lidl, Sainsbury’s, and M&S.

With a family of three, it’s advisable to use public transport, especially if you live in a major city like London. Taxis starting fare is around £3, and costs escalate on longer journeys. 

Owning a car is also expensive in the UK due to high fuel costs, around £1.31 per liter. If you choose to buy a car, a Volkswagen Golf would be perfect, costing you around £23,000.

You can also opt for a Toyota Corolla Sedan, which goes for approximately £24,000.

Factors that can raise or lower housing costs for a family of 3 in the UK

Housing type

There are all kinds of accommodations in the UK, from two-bedroom houses to maisonettes. It’s cheaper to rent a two-bedroom outside the city than a maisonette in the suburbs.

Zones

If you choose to live in the UK’s capital city, London, you’ll learn that the city is organized into rings of transport zones. They range from zone 1 to zone 9, and the number increases as you move away from the city. The higher the number, the less the rent you’ll pay but the higher the transport cost.

Neighborhood

The cost of buying and renting a house in the UK varies depending on the neighborhood. Before settling on a given community, research whether it aligns with your budget.

Proximity to a train station or tube

If you choose to stay close to a station, be ready to pay higher rent or buy a house at a high cost. Selecting a home about a 20-minute walk to the nearest station may save you 15%.

Amenities

Furnishings, modern kitchens, and garden access determine a house’s rental rate and cost. For example, you can find homes in your neighborhood or floor plan, but their rent is £200 less than others per month because they haven’t been renovated in years.

Here’s a handy reference table showing the minimal average expenses you are likely to have as a family of three:

ExpenseAverage Cost
Rent£1,770
Energy£60
Insurance£100
Water£30
Transportation£167
Internet£40
Dining Out/Delivery£200
Cell Phone£15
Groceries£320
Household Items£30
Entertainment£100
Personal Care£40
Total Monthly Cost£2,842
Source: numbeo.com

Anna

Anna is an enthusiastic expatriate with experience of living in Germany, Austria and Greece. She shares her passion for living abroad on this website.

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