Cost of Living

In comparison to other countries the UK has a relatively high cost of living, however, this is in balance with compatible wages and a high standard of living.  The UK features in the top 20 countries of the Quality of Life Index (2015).

The cost of living will vary significantly in the UK depending on where you live or your type of accommodation, for example, Leeds is relatively inexpensive in comparison to London.  Cost of living calculators, such as Numbeo, will help you to calculate costs specific to a particular area.

In this section you will find information on expenses that all UK residents will typically incur.

 

Council tax

All domestic households in the UK, whether owned or rented, are required to pay council tax to cover the cost of public services, for example, policing.

You will need to let your local council know when you move into a property and how many people live there.

How much council tax you pay will depend on the valuation band of the property you are living in; if you live alone there is usually a discount.

Further information can be sound on the Council’s webpages, rates of council tax in Leeds.

 

Home insurance

The type of insurance you should buy depends partly on whether you rent or you own your home.  There are three main home insurance policies:

  • Buildings insurance,
  • Contents insurance,
  • Combined building and contents insurance.

Buildings insurance protects the structure, the fixtures and fittings in your home, whilst content insurance covers your belongings.

Homeowners usually need both buildings and contents insurance, while those who rent typically only need contents insurance.  It can be a condition of the lease or mortgage, that you have both building and/or house contents insurance.

In the UK there is a wide variety of insurance providers, with widely varying policies, cover options, and costs.  Advice and comparison websites can help you find the best deal and cover to suit your needs, for example:

If you need to make a claim on your property insurance policy you will need to inform the police before your claim can be processed.

 

Utility bills

A utility bill is a request for payment for a public service, including:

  • Energy (Gas and Electricity),
  • Water,
  • Television (TV) licence.

Some utility bills are fixed nationally, by property type or are dependent on usage, and others vary depending upon the selected supplier.

When you’ve moved into your new home, you should:

  • Contact the current supplier at your new property to tell them you’ve moved in so they can transfer the accounts into your name,
  • Read the meters on the day you take ownership or responsibility for the property.  Give these readings to the current supplier to make sure you get an accurate first bill,
  • If a prepayment meter is installed try not to use a key or card, or put any money on the meter until you have contacted the current supplier,
  • If you are renting check your tenancy agreement to see if utility bills are included in your rent,
  • Shop around for the best deal.  You do not have to use the supplier that the previous owner / tenant of your property was using.

 

Energy and Water

In a typical UK household, more than half the money spent on energy bills goes towards providing heating and hot water.

A central heating system, a boiler and radiators run on mains gas, or electric radiators, are the most common forms of heating.

Gas and electric is billed on usage, it is calculated by your supplier once you’ve provided meter readings. Suppliers are competitive, you can find the best deal by searching the market.  Comparison websites can help, for example:

Water can be charged either by a standard annual charge, or by exact usage if you have a water meter installed.  Further information can be found on the Yorkshire Water’s website.

 

Television (TV) licence

In the UK if you watch TV live, as it is being broadcast, on any device, then you must have a TV licence.  This currently costs £145.50 per year, per household (2016); if you don’t pay you could face a £1,000 fine.  

If you leave the country you can claim back a portion of the fee depending on the length of time remaining on the licence; you can find further information on the TV licensing website.

 

Home phone line rental

Line rental is the charge you pay for an active phone landline into your home.

Apart from Virgin Media, which uses its own fibre optic network, all other providers use BT’s copper wire network – the overhead phone lines from telegraph poles to your home.  However, this doesn’t mean that your home phone service is provided by BT.

When finding a landline deal consider the following:

  • When do I make most of my telephone calls?
  • If there is a free call allowance?
  • Do I mostly call landlines, mobiles or international numbers?
  • What add-ons are available and how much do they cost?
  • Do I want to bundle my services?

You can opt for a standalone line rental or a ‘bundle’ which includes both line rental and broadband.  If you intend to have broadband a ‘bundle’ is often cheaper as the two services are often interlinked.

Line rental starts from around £16.00 per month and a ‘bundle’ from around £17 per month (2016); you can pay monthly or annually, the latter is often cheaper.

Popular suppliers include: Post Office, BT, Sky and TalkTalk.

Vonage, which works via a box you plug into your landline, is a good option if you call abroad often.  It offers unlimited calls to over 60 countries from £12 per month (2016), low cost international rates to worldwide destinations, and unlimited calls to mobiles in 34 countries.

 

Broadband internet

Broadband is the standard way of connecting to the internet; broadband internet requires a landline fee unless you are with BT or have Virgin Media fibre optic broadband.

When finding a broadband deal consider your actual usage, required speed, downloads, installation and set-up fees, and contract length.

You can opt for a standalone broadband fee, or a ‘bundle’ which includes both line rental and broadband.  The services are often interlinked, so cheap broadband can mean a costly phone service and vice versa, as such a package is usually cheaper.

Broadband starts from around £7 per month and a ‘bundle’ from around £17 a month (2016); you can pay monthly or annually, the latter is often cheaper.

Popular suppliers include: Talk Talk, Sky, BT and Virgin.