This post's overview:
- 1 Is it worth moving to London in 2023? Pros and cons of living in London
- 2 Why is the area where you live is so important in London?
- 3 Pros of living in London – why moving to London is worth it
- 4 Cons of living in London
- 5 Is it worth moving to London in 2023? How harsh is the cost of living crisis?
Thinking of moving to London in 2023 and not sure whether it’s worth it? Let’s talk about it and some pros and cons of living in London.
London is one of the most popular cities in the world and attracts millions of visitors and migrants each year. With its rich history, cultural diversity, and numerous job opportunities, many people are considering making the move to London in 2023. However, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making such a big decision. This article will explore the benefits and drawbacks of living in London, helping you determine if it’s worth making the move in 2023.
Is it worth moving to London in 2023? Pros and cons of living in London
Let’s start with the pros and cons of living in London and then talk about whether it’s worth to live in London. London is one of the world’s leading capitals, and it’s a stunning multicultural city that has everything you can think of (except for affordable housing). There is a saying that if you’re tired of London, that means, you’re tired of life. Well, it’s a joke, of course, but I think you get it – London has it all. However, as it’s a big city with a lot of big-city problems, life in London can be truly draining. I know of many people who left London for the suburbs and even different cities and countries. So many people love London, but there are also some who dislike it.
And you never know which one will you be until you spend enough time in the city, living in different neighbourhoods.
Why is the area where you live is so important in London?
The ares where you live in London can affect your entire relationship with the city! London is so diverse and so huge that living in different parts of London can feel like living in different cities (and even countries). When I lived in Elephant & Castle, I didn’t enjoy it. It was dirty, not very safe, there were no green areas or nice parks nearby. It was a huge construction site with lots of high rise buildings being constructed all around us. There was also no sense of community – it felt like a commuter hub rather than a neighbourhood. I was so unhappy that I was even thinking of moving out of London. Since I discovered North London and areas like Highgate, East Finchley, Hampstead and Muswell Hill, I had a completely different residential experience, and I absolutely loved it! That’s just an example of how different London could be.
I wrote this guide to the best districts to live in London for families and another one for young professionals and this guide about the areas you should probably avoid.
Pros of living in London – why moving to London is worth it
Fantastic food from all around the world
London has restaurants and shops from all around the world. Do you want Ethiopian food today? Head to Camberwell! Fancy Brazilian cuisine – well, you can go to Kensal Rise or Willesden. Fancy a great kebab – East London has some of the best kebabs. Are you looking for the best vegan burger? Those you can find all around London.
If food is important to you, you will love London. Yes, the restaurants are expensive. But at the same time, London is home to some of the world’s best restaurants.
London has many job opportunities
London is a hub of job opportunities, offering a wide range of career paths for people of all skills and backgrounds. From finance and technology to creative industries and hospitality, there is a diverse range of industries to choose from. London is home to many of the world’s largest companies and most prestigious universities, providing ample opportunities for both entry-level and experienced professionals. With its thriving job market and low unemployment rate, London is an attractive destination for those looking to advance their careers. Despite the high cost of living, many people choose to live and work in London due to the abundance of job opportunities and potential for career growth.
If you’re struggling to find a job in London, it would be even harder to find it somewhere else, as London has a lot of jobs to offer! While they are not always your dream jobs, they will allow you to have a roof over your head. Interestingly, according to a recent study, almost a quarter of Londoners work in startups! If you’re interested in how to find a job in a startup in London, read this article.
London is a beautiful city
London is charming! Despite losing a lot of its historical buildings in the Great Fire of 1666 and then during WWII, when German forces bombed London a lot, it still has plenty of things to offer. Moreover, every district of London is different. Sometimes you even feel like you’re in a different city! Take Spitalfields with its signature dark brick buildings and compare it with sparkling white terraces of Queensway and Paddington.
Some of the most beautiful districts in London include:
Mayfair – Known for its luxury shopping, dining, and elegant Georgian architecture, Mayfair is an upscale neighborhood located in the heart of the city.
Chelsea – This chic neighborhood is known for its artistic community and historic townhouses, making it a popular destination for art lovers and history buffs.
Notting Hill – With its picturesque streets, charming homes, and famous street markets, Notting Hill is a must-visit for those looking for a charming neighborhood with a lively atmosphere.
Soho – Soho is famous for its vibrant nightlife, with a variety of bars, clubs, and theaters offering entertainment for all tastes.
Greenwich – This historic district is famous for its maritime heritage, with landmarks such as the Royal Observatory and the Cutty Sark drawing visitors from all over the world.
Little Venice – As its name suggests, Little Venice is a small and charming neighborhood located near the Grand Union Canal. It offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of central London.
Marylebone – Known for its elegant architecture, Marylebone is a charming neighborhood that offers a glimpse into London’s elegant past. It’s also home to many independent shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Hampstead – it’s a charming and upscale neighborhood located in north-west London. The area is famous for its large and sprawling Heath, a green space that covers over 790 acres and offers stunning views of the city. This area is popular for picnics, walks, and outdoor activities. Hampstead is also home to a diverse array of shops, cafes, restaurants, and cultural institutions, making it a hub of cultural activity. Hampstead is known for its elegant townhouses!
Salaries are high
If you’re lucky enough to have a job that pays well (e.g. you’re in Finance, Law or Computer Science), you’ll have a very high salary that will allow you a comfortable lifestyle in London. Anything above 80K per year (before taxes) in London is great, especially if you live on your own! You can have a decent life with a 45K salary as well, but on 80K, you will be able to afford a couple of luxuries. There are, however, jobs that pay 100K, 150K and even 300K, but they are harder to get. Read my post about the cost of living in London and how much money do you need to earn to be able to live in London comfortably.
Also, don’t forget to check out my guide to the average salaries in London by industry and profession.
London is a transport hub
London is served by six major airports, each offering a range of flights to destinations around the world. The busiest of these airports is Heathrow, which is the largest airport in Europe and the hub for British Airways. Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Southend, and London City airports also offer a range of international flights, making it easy for travelers to reach London from anywhere in the world. With its great connections to destinations around the world, London is a hub of international travel and commerce. In addition to its airports, London is well-connected by road, rail, and sea, making it easy for people to travel both within the UK and further afield. The city’s excellent transport links make it an ideal destination for travellers looking to explore the UK and beyond, with easy access to other major cities in Europe, the Americas, and beyond.
Entertainment in London is amazing
London pretty much never sleeps with 24h bus service every day and 24h underground services on certain days. There are plenty of restaurants that are open 24 hours, seven days a week and you can always find things to do in the city! It has so many interesting museums (and most of them are free), art galleries, workshops, excursions and more!
Besides the world-famous museums like the British Museum or the National Gallery, there are also lots of quirky and unusual museums like The Museum of Brands, Packaging, and Advertising or the Wellcome Collection, which explores the intersections of medicine, science, and culture. The Bank of England Museum provides a fascinating look into the history of money and banking.
London also boasts a diverse fitness scene, offering a wide range of classes and studios to cater to every fitness level. From high-intensity workouts at 1Rebel and Barry’s Bootcamp, to yoga and Pilates at Core Collective and Another Space, to state-of-the-art facilities at Gymbox, there’s something for everyone. With its focus on wellness, luxurious facilities, and high-energy classes, London is a great destination for fitness enthusiasts.
Read my article about the best alternative and non-touristy things to do in London!
Cons of living in London
Transport costs and conditions
Commuting in London can be a nightmare. London underground is very expensive (you pay £160+ for a monthly travel card in zone 2), yet it doesn’t even have wifi & signal or even air conditioning in most of its lines. It’s usually hot, cramped and generally very unpleasant. Many families are not able to afford a decent house in London, so they end up moving to various commuter towns and spending 3 hours in public transport every day. With the train strikes commuting into London became even harder, isolating those, who only have a train station in close proximity to them.
I live in zone 4 and commuting to work and back costs me £8.7 every day, which is very expensive! London also has some of the most expensive trains in the world, so if you need to take a train for 30 minutes every day (for example, from Brighton or Milton Keynes), you might end up paying £35 for a return trip.
Cost of housing
Properties in London are ridiculously expensive and don’t reflect the salaries of ordinary people. With the recent mortgage products reduction, you can only get 85% of the property price in a mortgage, and you need to have 15% of the property ready as a deposit. The interest rates are also through the roof now, making mortgages pretty much unaffordable!
Add to that massive stamp duty fee, and you realise that buying a property in London is hard. Even if your combined family income is above £100K per year, you will be only able to afford a 2-bedroom flat in zones 3 or 4 or a house in a suburb, very far from London. With the deposit of £75K, you can only buy a property worth around 500000K in London, and while it sounds like a lot, trust me, it isn’t. Especially if you want a share of freehold property (not a leasehold nightmare) or a freehold house. And, preferably, in a safe and pretty neighbourhood. If we were to stay in East Finchley / Highgate where we rented a few years ago and loved the area, we would need a deposit of at least £150,000 to buy a 3-bedroom flat.
Most people have hard times saving in London.
It’s a fact. Most people have hard times saving in London. This city has so many amazing restaurants, shops and activities that young people really find it hard to save! In my first 1.5 years in London, I’ve saved nothing. Absolutely nothing. I had literally 0 in my savings account.
After three years, it’s still hard to save money. Although both of us had pay rises, the higher the salary, the higher the spending. Imagine that yours and your partner’s combined yearly income is £100000 (imagine both of you make £50K). In total, you bring home around £6K per month after taxes.
Rent is very expensive, so imagine paying £2000 for a 1-bedroom flat including all the bills (council tax, electricity etc.). Then, another £200 per month you both spend on lunches and another £300 you spend on transport. With groceries and other costs, you will end up spending £3000 per month just on basic necessities. If you add restaurants, travel and clothes, you could easily spend all that money. But realistically, you can save around £1500 every month. You would need 50 months to save £75K for a deposit for a house or a flat – that’s over 4 years.
However, very few people make £100K combined, as the average salary in London is around 36K. In this case, you will only have £4400 after taxes and after basic expenses, that leaves you with only £1500 left, which you can either spend on going out, travelling or shopping and save for your future property. In this case, even if you save £700 per month, you would need 107 months to save 75K – that’s almost 9 years!
If you want to read more about what kind of lifestyle you can afford on different salaries in London, you can read my blog post about that.
As with any large capital, London can be pretty unsafe. Unfortunately, if your income is low, you will probably end up renting in an up and coming or even a bad area. Otherwise, you would need to share with multiple flatmates. Some areas of London are just not great. They have problems with violence, vandalism, burglaries, drugs and even trash collection. You won’t be able to find many good shops in the area and some of your neighbours might be involved in criminal activities. You will hear police sirens all night long, and if you dress nicely and wear brands, you will definitely stand out. But you wouldn’t want to stand out.
There are some areas of London that I wouldn’t recommend: Barking, Upton Park, Plaistow, West Ham, Ilford, Dagenham, East Ham, Tottenham, Wembley, Southall, Harlesden, Woolwich, Deptford, parts of Croydon, Camberwell, Thamesmead, Hounslow and some other areas with large council estates.
If you want to see the full list of places I’d avoid in London, check this post about the worst districts in London.
You might feel frustrated
Another one of the cons of living in London is probably a feeling of frustration. Yes, London can really make you feel miserable if you want to eat out in fancy places, live in a beautiful property in a good area and buy food from fancy supermarkets, but you can’t afford it.
There are so many rich people living in London. According to a recent survey, over 100,000 of people in London have a salary of over £130,000 (which is a super-high salary compared to the average wage of about £35,000). There are also millionaires and billionaires, who own houses and go out in London.
There are places specifically designed for rich people, from ultra-expensive restaurants to private clubs, and you realise that you probably will never be part of that lifestyle.
However, luckily, not everyone wants that kind of lifestyle!
Alright, now it’s time to wrap it up and summarise whether it’s worth to live in London or not.
Is it worth moving to London in 2023? How harsh is the cost of living crisis?
If you’re wondering whether it’s still worth moving to London in 2023, let’s talk about that.
The first thing you need to keep in mind is the cost of living crisis.
This cost of living crisis has been exacerbated by a lack of affordable housing, as well as a shortage of good-quality rental properties, making it difficult for many people to find affordable and suitable housing. The situation is particularly challenging for those on low incomes, such as young people and retirees, who may find it difficult to afford the high cost of living in the city. I’ve seen a lot of Tik Toks and reels talking about how hard it is to find a room for rent in London or an affordable flat. Prices for flats have skyrocketed in the last couple of years. Most of my friends had their rent increase by £300-400 per month and those, who are looking to move, are now facing 30-40% rent increase on the properties that are available.
However, if you are offered a good salary and you’re confident that you’ll find a nice place to live, I’m sure that you won’t have many issues in London!
I know it’s tough to say whether it’s worth living in London or not, as everyone is different. To me, personally, it’s worth it, I love the city, and I love living in London. However, for many people, London, with its crazy high property prices and mediocre salaries as well as safety problems, might not be the first choice. Which one are you? Have you decided?
Some other posts you might find useful:
Salary needed to live in London – how much do you need to earn in London
How to save money in London? 10+ money-saving tips
Non-touristy amazing places to visit in London
Highgate – the best place to live in London. Things to do in Highgate
5 thoughts on “Is it worth moving to London in 2023? Pros and cons of living in London”
Such an amazing blog of expats inlondon. Everything discuss clearly and very informative. Thank you!!.
Love your visit expat in saudia.
Loving your writing.
Initially I was looking for information which your articles provided what I needed. As I continued reading, I find that your articles are well structured, easy to follow and somewhat, thought provoking too.
Keep writing and inspiring. Thanks.
Thank you so much!
Prices for tfl have not been updated by you 🙁 Daily travel card for zone 1-4 is much more these days as well as for the other zones
Thanks for spotting, Kate! I actually need to update it with the new prices (since the 1st of March), as there is another price increase