United Kingdom Expat Forum - Cost of Living?

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From: United States
4/30/2002 18:11    
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I'm considering a move to Reading, UK from Boston, MA and I want to be sure I can get an accurate assessment of cost of living in the UK. How much should I expect to pay for a flat? How much does a grocery bill come to (pasta, veggies,milk...)? That sort of thing. All I know right now is that $1.5 = about 1 sterling...

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From: United Kingdom
5/1/2002 10:17    
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Renting a bungalow costs about £450 per month (+ extra costs) near Luton, unfortunately I don't know about flats around Reading.
Once you will have stayed in the UK for a while and have a job you will be able to buy a house, then the rent is about the same as what people get charged for renting, it's ridiculous but true. Just heard on the news that house prices are still going up, still people want to buy their own houses rather than renting.
For a weeks food shopping we pay about £90 each week (for 2 adults). Food is not cheap, but supermarkets are great here, you can get food from all over the world and the quality is super! I can spend hours there and always discover something new!

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From: United Kingdom
5/2/2002 04:00    
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The nearer to London you are, the more costly it gets. Never lived near London so can only comment about life "in the bush"

Houses: If you are going to be here sometime then a house buy is probably a good idea. Most people in the UK buy (if they can afford it). Most rentals are for six months minimum (though might differ if you are coming from abroad!). We are currently looking to move and make regular use of www.fish4homes.co.uk. We hope to make £40,000 on the sale of our house after just 3 years! (check it out if you want at www.coastalit.co.uk/house!)

Taxes: Main taxes -
Income tax, comes off your pay (check listen.to/taxman for a rough estimate)
VAT - 17.5% added to cost of most products. Most of the time you only see then end price, as only business can claim VAT back (and charge VAT in the first place). Computer magazines etc might show both prices
Council Tax- If you live in a house, you pay council tax (based on a band A - cheap property e- expensive. Varies area by area. Ours is £1000 per year at the moment)

Computers etc: Computers are quite expensive when you are used to $ prices. I haven't checked recently but a straight $ to £ conversion used to be quite accurate (ie a $800 computer would cost £800). Things like ADSL are available (in some areas only), check out www.bt.com for our national (monopolistic?) telephone company. Telephones: there are no free calls in the UK! We pay around £100 / quarter, but have two lines (1 for internet access). Dial up connections go from free to £30 per month (depending on how good a service you want and wether you want call charges too). ADSL kicks in about this price too (£30-£200). AOL is £16 per month I think with no call charges.

TV: Some areas get cable, and there is the SKY TV satellite system. The cable people can usually offer high speed internet too for a reasonable price!

Hope that helps

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From: United Kingdom
5/2/2002 04:16    
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I've lived in the UK since 1993, first as a member of the US Air Force & since I retired from active duty, for the American Red Cross on one of our bases in Suffolk County. I now live in Cambridge with my English wife & I can verify that area is very pricey to live. It follows closely on the heals of London in high cost of living area. Reading isn't too far from here, but I don't know what it'll cost specifically to live there. You can log onto www.askjeeves.co.uk and probably find some specific info there about Reading.

A 2 bdrm flat in the Cambridge area will cost at around £75k - 100k+ to start. The latest news is that the average house costs £120k & the high cost is pricing most blue collar workers out of the area. There's plenty of jobs to be had, but they usually don't pay enough to afford housing in & around Cambridge.

The council tax (property tax) just went up again, but the Inland Tax (IRS) didn't increase this year. VAT (sales tax) is 17.5% on everything but take away food. I dont' know what taxes are like in Boston Mass, but on the average, they're a good bit higher here in UK than in the States. Road tax is £180 a year & TV tax is £80 yearly, & you better have both or you'll be fined £1000 the first offense.

Cost of clothing & food if probably not much different from what you're used to paying in the States. However, cars & hardgoods cost an average of 15 - 40% more. But you can get Volvos, Mercedes & BMWs for less used.

Good luck on your move & if I can be of further assistance, email me.

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