Household Costs In The UK

Household Costs In The UK
Calculating average household costs in a new country is always a frustrating experience, not helped by a minimal knowledge of services available locally.

Unfortunately, the UK is one of the world’s most expensive countries in which to live, with inflation running at 6 per cent by the end of 2011 in spite of non-stop special offers and sales in the retail sector.

Outside the cost of your monthly rent or mortgage payments, charges for essential utilities such as gas, electricity, water and telephone services have seen huge increases of 25 per cent and more since 2009 and will eat a large hole in your disposable income. For the average apartment or small house, gas and electricity supplies are now costing around ?1,200 a year, with water rates averaging around ?400 a year.

Another charge to take into consideration is council tax, payable as a percentage of the value of the home as calculated by the local authority. Whether you are buying or renting, you are liable for this tax. Amounts vary hugely between local authorities, dependent on area, the size of the property and its amenities, but tend to be more reasonable outside cities.

Food costs have seen considerable increases over recent years, with retailers suggesting the price of food is increasing fourfold over other costs. At a minimum wage of ?14,000 a year, below which it’s almost impossible for a single person to live, food will cost ?90 a week for meals and basic necessities.

Internet charges, however, have fallen since 2006, and the quality of service has increased considerably. Offers of free broadband internet services packaged with fixed phone lines have seen dramatic reductions. The cost of white goods such as fridges and washing machines has also fallen, as have clothes and alcoholic beverage prices in supermarkets. Cigarettes now cost around ?7.00 per pack.

Transport costs are part of the weekly budget, with self-drive the cheapest although the cost of taxing and insuring a vehicle once it’s purchased has also risen dramatically. The average car insurance premium is now ?1,000 a year and fuel stands at around ?1.45 a litre. If you’re driving to work in London, parking costs are high.

Travelling by overground rail or the Tube to and from suburban London to the centre can cost up to and more than ?10 per day dependent on the distance covered, with bus fares less but the time taken more than doubled. Self-drive comes into its own outside the capital, as roads leading to city centres are less crowded and train travel is generally almost as expensive as in London.