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Life on a Minimum Wage in London: What Can You Afford? Cost of Living

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Hi guys, wondering what life on a minimum wage in London looks like? What can you really afford if your job/business only pays you a minimum salary?

If you’re new to this blog, hi, my name is Liza. I share a lot of content about travel; however, I also often write about expat life here in the UK. Over the last four years in London, I had a few different jobs and even worked on this blog full-time. When I was working on Tripsget, I was also freelancing, and the income from both activities was adding up to a sun close to a UK minimum salary for an adult.

If you’re wondering what kind of lifestyle can you afford on a minimum wage in London, keep reading!

Here’s what you can expect to find in this post:

How much is a minimum wage in England?

If you’re wondering, how much is a minimum wage in England in 2021, it really varies on your age. The younger you are, the lower is your minimum wage. Yep, I know, that’s pretty unfair because you still work the same hours.

If you’re over 25, your minimum hourly wage is set at £8.72, which works out as £15,975 if you work 8 hours every day five days a week (40 hours per week). However, you need to pay taxes on your minimum wage, so you will only get circa £15,975 after taxes or £1,331 per month.

If you’re between the ages of 21 and 24, your minimum wage is set as £8.20. That’s £1269 per month after taxes!

If you’re between 18 and 20 years old, you will only be earning £6.45 on a minimum wage job. That’s circa £1060 per month.

Finally, if you’re below 18, that’s only £4.55 an hour for you. Assuming that you still live with your parents, that’s not too bad. You would be getting £788 per month after all.

Which jobs pay minimum salary/wage?

If you’re wondering which jobs pay minimum wage, there are a lot of jobs that pay that. From retail jobs to waiting staff jobs, from assistant jobs to reception jobs and internships – these jobs will, most probably, pay you a minimum wage.

Is it even worth moving to London if your job pays you a minimum living wage?

Another question that people frequently ask me is whether it’s even worth moving to London if your job pays you a minimum wage? Well, there is no easy answer to this question! I have a separate article about the pros and cons of living in London and whether living in London is worth it or not.

Moving to London from another city

If you’re moving to London from a different city in the UK, keep in mind that your lifestyle will definitely get worse. Pretty much anywhere in the UK, you can afford a better lifestyle on a minimum wage than in London.

However, it doesn’t mean that your life in London will be horrible. No, but it won’t be “lush”.

If you know that your salary will improve in the next years, then go for it! If you’re wondering what you can afford on a different salary in London, I actually have another post just about that. It’s called “salary needed to live in London“, and you can check it out here.

Moving to London from another country

If you’re moving to London from another country, first of all, because of Brexit, the immigration rules have changed – you can find the most recent information on the UK Government website. EU citizens are no longer allowed to come to the UK and look for a job upon arrival. Moreover, there are limits on the minimum salary you need to be able to work in the UK, and it’s above minimum wage (25K).

What can you afford on a minimum wage in London?

Finally, let’s talk about the lifestyle you can afford on a minimum wage in London. Let’s assume you’re 25, you work 40 hours per week and make £1330 per month.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to rent your own apartment with that wage; however, you can rent your own room. You can rent a room with all utilities included for around £450-800 per month depending on the location (sometimes it’s even more than £1000 in areas like South Kensington). You can rent a room through services like Spareroom or Badi.

You can save a lot of money by cooking at home and bringing your lunches with you. If you don’t, that’s around £100-130 per month just for lunches. If you do a combination of both or buy cheap lunches (e.g. microwave meals or meal deals), you can cut it to £50-60 per month.

Depending on your eating habits, groceries shouldn’t cost you more than £200-250 per month. However, you can spend less if you buy in affordable supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl.

Transport is expensive. You can save money by travelling by bike, as many Londoners do! That would save you at least £139 you could spend on the monthly travel pass! However, realistically, because of rainy weather, people still tend to spend at least £60-70 on transport!

How much money can you save with a minimum salary in London?

Let’s imagine you rent a room for £650 per month in an apartment with three other people in zone 2 (with all bills included – council tax, phone, electricity, gas and Internet).

Add to that telephone bills, Netflix and Spotify – £40.
Groceries – £200
Occasional lunches – £50
Transport – £70

That’s already £1030, which leaves you with only £300 per month to spend on shopping for other necessities including clothes; travel, other purchases, savings and going out. As you can see, it is really not that much.

You can, however, reduce your spendings even more and find a cheaper room, only cook food at home and buy the most affordable groceries, however, lifestyle like that isn’t very sustainable for prolonged periods of time (as you start questioning whether it’s worth to live in London with that kind of style). That, of course, if you don’t enjoy a frugal lifestyle (because there people who genuinely do and that’s great).

If you don’t enjoy the frugal lifestyle, but you know that you have good potential and are certain that you won’t stay on a minimum wage for years, life on a 25K salary is already quite different, for example!

Instagram guide to London [the most instagrammable places in London] Guide by @lizatripsget

Summary of life on a minimum salary in London

Alright, life on a minimum salary in London definitely isn’t easy or lush, but it is doable. As long as you know you won’t live with that salary forever or you move in with your partner who works as well (living in a household where both people work makes a tremendous difference in London), living on a minimum wage in London should be okay!

Some of the other articles you might like:

Edinburgh vs London – which city is a better place to live
10 ways to save money in London
Worst areas to live in London

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