expat network

Cost of Living Comparison – UK vs USA

cost of living


You may be considering a permanent move from the UK to the USA. In this case, it’s best to do your homework first and consider the cost of living for moving to the USA before you pick up and go.





Moving to the US from the UK may be more or less expensive than you assume or can afford. This is why it’s very important to do your research and review a cost of living comparison on various aspects before you pack up and depart. Of course, it depends upon where in the US you live and which city you decide to settle down in.


Property & Housing

When it comes to housing in the UK and USA, you should consider whether you’re going to be renting or buying a house or condo.

When it comes to renting a property there isn’t too much of a difference between America and the UK, however, it depends upon where you are located. The average cost of a centrally located one-bedroom apartment (or flat) is around 3.35% higher in London than in New York.

It’s also on average more expensive to buy a house in the UK or London versus the US. It’s worth considering that London is the second most expensive city in the world to buy property, so comparisons between the exact areas you are moving to & from will certainly help give you a better idea. Don’t forget to account for the cost of utilities too. Utility costs can be much more expensive in London versus New York.


Cost of Food

The cost of living when it comes to food in both locations is a little more complicated. Generally speaking, the USA tends to be a little more expensive when it comes to grocery shopping.

Bread, rice, and many fruits and vegetables are mostly less expensive in the UK. However, keep in mind that foods such as milk, chicken breasts, and eggs will cost you between 20-40% more in the UK.

Again, it’s important to consider which city in the US you’re considering moving to. No matter if you’re dining in or grocery shopping; New York City food prices usually are higher than most other areas.


Healthcare Considerations

Managing your health and healthcare is more of a challenging area to compare when it comes to the cost of living in the UK vs the cost of living in America. Of course, the UK benefits from the National Health Service which covers the cost of healthcare and most treatments. That is unless you choose to pay for it privately. The US healthcare system is mostly private and costs in the US vary greatly if you are on a government plan versus a private employer. Either way, healthcare (or health insurance) is likely to cost a lot more in the US than the UK so it’s important to budget for this when planning your move.


Education Costs UK vs USA

Education is another tough area to break down because there are lots of options when it comes to sending your kids to school. For instance, the cost will depend if your kids attend a state-run or private school. Monthly fees for preschool or kindergarten are 26.54% lower in London than in New York. Both areas are far from cheap, but if you live in the US you’ll likely pay a bit more in education costs overall. The numbers become even more complicated and interesting once you bring in the element of attending college or university and paying tuition.



There are many options when it comes to transportation in the US but it also depends upon where you live and if you’re near a city or not. For example, New York City has fairly reasonable prices for transportation, when you choose to ride by mass transit or taxi. If you live in the suburbs then you’re likely going to need to pay for and use a car to get around.

London is significantly more expensive when it comes to transport or transportation costs. This is even considering taking public or mass transportation. Fuel prices will also set you back more in the UK. If you live in London then you’re likely going to have to commute to work and pay for these costs. If it’s feasible and you want to save costs on fuel or transport in either location then you may consider taking a bike or carpooling to work. Either way, you’ll be happy to know that gas prices and public transport are generally cheaper in the US.


Wages & Earnings

Overall, salaries are higher in the USA than in the UK. This may be due to the higher healthcare costs and slightly higher living costs in general for America. As always, it always helps to do some research about job opportunities based on what skills you offer and your expected salary compared to the UK before making the move. As an example, for the role of senior manager you can expect to earn £62,500 on average in the UK, whereas the in the USA the same position has an average salary of $136,048 (£98,113).



You’re likely to see prices are on average lower in the USA when it comes to eating and dining out, however, this difference isn’t quite as big when you take into account that tipping is standard practice in the US. On the flip side, if you’re just going out for coffee or a cappuccino then you’re going to pay more in the US vs. the UK.

If you’re looking to spend your time getting into better shape then you may want to do so in the US if you want to save as gym memberships are typically cheaper in the US.

You may enjoy going to the movies after work or on the weekends. In this case, expect to pay less for your seat in the US vs. the UK. Keep in mind that the cost of going out and entertainment will vary more in the US according to which city you’re living in.

If you’re considering life in the USA, there’s more to think about than just the cost of living, however, we hope that you now have a better idea of which country is cheaper and what to expect when you move. For help with other areas of life in the US such as education, job opportunities and general culture, check out immigration tips and advice for moving to the USA.