The True Cost of Living in UK Cities

We’re big believers in giving back to the community through financial education, so when we’re not busy arranging secured loans, we like to delve into the numbers behind the numbers, and educate consumers. With that in mind, we took a deep dive into the true cost of living figures for UK regions and cities.

Depending on where you live and work in the UK, it’s likely that someone is making more money in the same role. It can sometimes seem like a real postcode lottery.

However, this doesn’t necessarily make them better off than you.

There are several factors involved which level the playing field regardless of someone’s wages. These fall under the ‘true cost of living’ which looks at everything from property prices, taxes and energy costs to grocery shopping.

Once all of this has been paid up for the year, you’re left with your disposable income. But it isn’t always so simple.

In some cities, if you earn the average wage, you’re working to simply meet your essential spend – leaving you with nothing in the way of disposable cash come year’s end.

Depending on which city you call home, you could even be earning less than your region’s average cost of living meaning you’ll always have to either scrimp and save or accept some level of debt.

We broke down the cities with the highest and lowest average disposable income. They are:

Top 10 cities with the highest average disposable income

Top 10Annual disposable income
Derby £             14,520.00
Slough £             13,860.00
Aberdeen £             13,428.00
Dundee £             13,212.00
Warrington £             13,032.00
Coventry £             12,972.00
Telford £             12,720.00
Glasgow £             12,708.00
Blackpool £             12,552.00
Belfast £             12,456.00

Derby top the list with an average annual disposable income of £14,520 – this is 16.6% higher than the disposable income of Belfast in 10th place!

Top 10 cities with the lowest average disposable income

Bottom 10Annual disposable income
London £                2,016.00
Brighton £                5,436.00
Poole £                5,580.00
Southend-on-Sea £                5,904.00
Oxford £                6,636.00
Bournemouth £                8,004.00
Cambridge £                8,136.00
Nottingham £                8,484.00
Reading £                8,772.00
Plymouth £                8,988.00

Residents of London clearly have the worst end of the deal here. The average person in Plymouth has 445% more average disposable income than the average Londoner!*Produced from ONS & numbeo data in 2023


When looking at wages aside from the cost of living, it can be quite surprising to see how much of a difference it makes to those who live in some of the more expensive areas of the UK – despite their higher earnings.

Here is a look at some of the UK’s largest cities and where they rank in terms of expense for everything from rent to dining out at restaurants in the form of a cost of living index:

RankCityCost of LivingRentGroceriesRestaurant Price
2Milton Keynes86.6255.1076.9995.23

The index figures in the table above are based on a variety of Cost of Living criteria which create a data point from 0-100 in a rising expense scale. Figures last checked 2023.

One of the largest, most frequent expenditures that applies to everyone is the cost of food shopping. The following rankings, based on the same cities as the table above, show the highest and lowest spenders when it comes to getting groceries.

Least expensive UK cities
Most expensive UK cities

To give a wider overview of these essential costs – here is a regional comparison which shows the average annual outgoings per household.

UK cost of living by city

This brings things into perspective when compared to the average wages of each city, for instance, the examples below show those cities left with the highest and lowest amount of money after the average annual household spend per region has been taken off their wages…

Highest disposable income cities UK
Lowest disposable income cities UK


While the interest rates charged will be the same, the ratio of income to property value will impact how easy or difficult it is to buy a property. For example, a bad credit secured loan on a property in Blackpool at 75% LTV could have the same interest rate as one in Mayfair, but would cost significantly more overall due to the difference in property value.


Thankfully, wages appear to be rising across all countries and regions in the UK, although of course, inflation continues to bite. While we’re seeing wage growth, the fact that inflation is around 10% must also be considered.

This means that any wage growth below 10% actually results in lower spending power than you would have had 12 months ago.

Now lets take a look at the latest wage growth figures

Wage growth by country

CountryWage change
United Kingdom4.60%
Great Britain4.70%
Northern Ireland1.00%

Wage growth by region

RegionWage change
North East10.00%
North West10.00%
Yorkshire & The Humber9.90%
South East8.10%
West Midlands6.20%
South West3.70%
East Midlands2.60%
East of England1.00%


While many are tempted to run to the capital, or any of the UK’s larger cities, for their higher-paying job opportunities, it’s essential to bear in mind the costs associated with bringing in larger wages in more expensive areas.

Now you should have a better idea of the true cost of living across the UK. This will hopefully grant you with a much more realistic perspective the next time you’re looking at comparative wages elsewhere.

Keep reading – Spotting the signs of financial abuse

Cost of living & additional income data sourced from Numbeo & the ONS.

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