In this post, I would like to compare the cost of living in Edinburgh vs London and tell you, what’s the best place to live in the UK (choosing between London and Edinburgh). I lived in Edinburgh for 1.5 years and I’ve been living in London for over 3 years already. It was enough to understand, how much do you need to live in both cities and which one of these two I like more.
However, I thought it might be interesting for some people to read the detailed comparison between the two cities and decide, what’s best for them. Of course, it all depends on your preferences. I must say that both cities are stunning.
Here’s what you can expect to find in this post:
My life in Edinburgh vs London
When I first moved to Edinburgh, I was a student. Then, I moved back there after a couple of years as a young professional. I had just enough money to pay for groceries, go out with my friends and travel around Europe with no luxuries. If you want to read about living in Edinburgh as a student, I would suggest you read THIS post.
I must say that Edinburgh is a perfect student city: it’s compact (but it has everything you would probably need as a student), it’s incredibly beautiful and it’s fun. When I was choosing an MSc programme in the UK, I was choosing between Edinburgh and London and I chose Edinburgh over London because of that. It’s simply much cheaper than studying in London, as the main problem in London is the housing prices. So let’s jump to the first part of this post: accommodation costs in London vs Edinburgh.
Comparison of Edinburgh vs London: cost of living, salaries, weather and more
Accommodation costs in London vs Edinburgh
As you probably know, London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Now that is not because of the restaurants or food prices, that’s because of crazy high rent prices (and even higher prices to buy properties) and really expensive transport. If you’re planning to live in London, prepare to pay up to 50% of your income for a room or an apartment.
Rent prices in London
Living in Central London by yourself is simply unaffordable unless you’re making something like £4,000 after taxes. A simple flat in Central London with no luxuries will cost you £1750 to £3500 a month. That’s why almost everybody either rents an apartment outside Central London or rents a room in a shared place. Renting a room in Central London would be cheaper but still no less than £700-1200 per month. If you look at more distant districts of London, let’s say Balham in Zone 3, Clapham North in Zone 2 or even Richmond in Zone 4, housing prices will be lower. You could pay £560-1000 for a room and £1300-1800 for a one-bedroom flat. However, make sure to avoid the worst areas to live in London. They might be very affordable, but they do have a wide variety of problems and they are cheap for a reason. If you’re interested, here’s my list of the worst areas to live in London.
Rent prices in Edinburgh
In Edinburgh, you can easily rent in the historical city centre and pay £650-£1000 a month for a decent one-bedroom flat and £300-500 for a room in a historical building. As a student, I was living 5 minutes walking from Edinburgh University Business School and was paying £540 a month for a room in a completely new student accommodation sharing the flat with 3 other students, but you could get a shared room for something like £340 a month. When we were renting in Edinburgh, we were paying £600 for our tiny flat near Stockbridge (a very nice area in Edinburgh) and around £1000 for a one-bedroom flat near the Meadows (but it was a short let, hence, it’s a bit pricy).
Rent prices in Edinburgh vs London
Overall, it’s easier to rent a place in Edinburgh on an average salary than it is in London. Of course, salaries are much lower in Edinburgh and a graduate often only makes 15-18K per year (that’s £1155 -£1350 after taxes) – with that salary, you can rent a flat outside the city centre for £600 and only pay £45 per month on transport. In London, a recent graduate salary could be around 18-22K (£1350 -£1550), but a similar flat would cost you over £1200 plus £150-200 for transport, so you won’t be able to live on your own. This changes if you’re a high earning specialist. In Edinburgh, it’s really hard to make anything above £50K, while in London, a software developer, for example, can get a job for £70-80K.
Transportation costs in London vs Edinburgh
As I already mentioned, transportation costs in London are just insane. The cheapest monthly travel card would cost you a bit more than £130 a month, while in Edinburgh you pay around £40-45 for a monthly bus card. For students, the prices in both London and Edinburgh are lower, but in Edinburgh, I never actually needed to buy a travel card – you can pretty much walk everywhere or cycle unless you live near the Ocean Terminal or the Meadowbank. In London, you can also cycle, but only if you live close to your work.
Prices for food & going out in Edinburgh vs London
The prices for groceries are pretty much the same in London and Edinburgh and the only difference is that in London there are more fancy shops like Whole Foods, Planet Organic or Daylesford. As for going out, in London, of course, there are more spots for going out as well as restaurants. But on average, the prices for mid-range restaurants and chains are similar.
Salaries in London vs Edinburgh
Salaries in London and Edinburgh vary a lot, however, there are plenty of jobs in London that pay you as low as in Edinburgh which makes renting a property in London pretty unaffordable (while in Edinburgh you can easily survive). However, when it comes to higher-paying qualified jobs, here London salaries are way higher. I’d say the average salary for a graduate (Marketing, Business) in Edinburgh, is £15000-21000, while in London you can get a salary of £18-25000. With a couple of years of experience, you can still be earning £20-24,000 in Edinburgh, while in London you can easily be making £28,000-40,000 per month depending on the industry.
Weather in Edinburgh vs London
Another thing to take into account when comparing these two cities is the weather in Edinburgh vs London. Many people think that since the UK isn’t that large, the climate must be similar everywhere on the island. However, this is not the case. Weather in Edinburgh is very different from the weather in London – it’s windy and pretty chilly all year long in Scotland. You rarely need summer clothes in Edinburgh and the temperature rarely exceeds 17 degrees. London, on the other hand, has much more sunshine and overall, the temperature is usually 3-7 degrees higher than in Edinburgh. It’s common for London to have 19-24 degrees in summer and in recent years, there were quite a few heatwaves with temperatures exceeding 30 degrees (it reached 38 degrees one day).
So yes, in Scotland, you will hardly need summer clothes while in London, you will need a lot of them. Also, London is not as cold in winter. And usually, London is nowhere as windy. However, the weather is not an issue for many people!
Summary of living in London vs Edinburgh
So this was a short comparison of London and Edinburgh and hopefully, this post was useful for you! I tried to compare living in Edinburgh vs London based on my experience living in both cities. Both places are amazing and it depends on what you are looking for. If you’re looking for a quiet and gorgeous place with a lot of hiking and walking opportunities around and you don’t mind the weather – Edinburgh is an amazing option. If you’re looking to grow in your career and you prefer a warmer climate – London is an amazing city for that!
Hope this information gives you an overall impression of differences in costs of living in London and Edinburgh. Likes this post about the cost of living in Edinburgh vs London? Share it on Social Media!