// you’re reading...


where you live affects how much money you have

WSA adsense code -->

top of the gherkin jar

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the property market in the United Kingdom, that it’s not a cheap place to live. In fact, it’s a pretty expensive place overall - the cheapest area of the country (the North) still has an average home price of about £150k (in US$ that would be $300k).

It’s not just accommodation that’s expensive. Having travelled a little and noticed that everywhere else, food and drink is a lot cheaper than at home, I think it’s pretty clear that it’s expensive in the UK. Cars are notoriously expensive - petrol is over £1 a litre (more than $7 a gallon), and that’s not even touching on the relative cost of more luxury items.

Still, there are more than enough upsides to living in the UK that I’m prepared to overlook the general cost of things.

One thing that might come as a surprise to some people is that I don’t live in London. I grew up in one of the London suburbs, but moved away to go to Uni. Never in a million years did I imagine that all these years later I’d still be here. I’d always dreamed of living in London, and I still do.

If I lived in London, I could live closer to my immediate family who all live within 5 miles of where I grew up. I’m a true city girl at heart, and although I do live in a city, it’s not quite the same as living in a major world city. London has better shops and bars, more free museums, a better transport system, it’s bigger and more vibrant.

It’s funny that now that I’ve bought a house, started to make it nice, and am completely not in a position to move, nearly every time I visit my family, or take a business trip to London (and these happen at least once a month) I wish, wish, wish that I lived in London.

The thing is, that even if it wasn’t ridiculously impractical to sell my house, I can’t afford to move down there. I’ve looked in the trade press, and I already know that I wouldn’t really make any more money living in London, and in the city itself there aren’t actually that many opportunities in my industry. Moving to London now would mean that I’d have to give up my dreams of working 4 days a week, my wish to travel, and owning my own beautiful little house.

Choosing to live where I do, is the more practical idea. It allows me to work towards more of my goals. It will help me to eventually become rich enough to retire. And it’s not like I don’t have a life here, I do. And I do like my city, I’ve put down roots that don’t want to be tugged up for no reason.

I’ve made a choice, and all I need to do is to remember that it is a choice that I own, and that it’s not a forever choice. I’ve always imagined that I would live abroad, and I’m only in my twenties, since I don’t plan on having kids there’s no time limit on that. If in 5 or 10 years time, I still want to live in London, I bet it will still be there. And I’ll have more money, and it might just be practical.

Where you live affects how much money you have to play with, and whilst extra money can’t buy happiness it can help you achieve your other goals in a less than perfect location.

Image by ThisParticularGreg

Similar Posts:

If you like what you're reading, why not leave a comment below, subscribe to my feed, or check out some of my best posts.


16 comments for “where you live affects how much money you have”

  1. Interesting post - it’s hard not to be able to live wherever you want, but that’s just the way it goes.

    I think you will like your choice better in the future when you can retire or at least have more financial options compared to if you lived in the big city.


    Posted by Four Pillars | April 16, 2008, 12:12 pm
  2. I am always shocked, when I visit London, as to how expensive the houses and rents are. I recently went to a party in a location near to London and was shocked that the prices in a bar were almost twice what they are where I live. There are a lot of advantages to living away from London!

    Posted by Rachel @ Master Your Card | April 16, 2008, 12:31 pm
  3. This is so true. I am moving to London this month and while I wanted to be there 3 years ago I wasn’t in a position to, so I stayed in a smaller city well outside of the South East commuting zone and got more experience with the goal of getting back to London some day. I knew I would need pay that was 5K higher than what I was on, at least. I also knew I could do some consulting work if I could work part time. So, I set out to find a job that was either 10K higher than what I was on, or 5K higher but 4 days a week. The last time I was job hunting it took me 4 months this time the first job I applied for was the one! Keeping my eye on my dream to get back to London really worked even thought it took several years.
    I’m now going to be trying to be as frugal as possible so that if houses continue to go down, in 3 years I should be able to put a deposit (30K is my goal and it means I’ll need to get a part time job on top of what I do now) and purchase a garden flat or small home.
    Having lived in North America 2x as an adult, I was amazed at how much cheaper it was. Even in NY where house prices are similar to the UK, other things were cheaper so it did help. I look at a friend who emmigrated to the US, she is a SAHM, her hubby earns about $70K US, they bought a beautiful large 3 bedroom home with dining room, lounge, eat in kitchen, 2 full bathrooms, 1 toilet, finished basement, nice front and back garden in a good area for $250 US which works out to 3.5x his income (I could get a garage in London for 3.5x my income :0). They have a really good life - they’ve adopted 3x from China after a long road with infertility, have a yearly holiday back to the UK for 3 weeks, eat out several times a week, have a good saving for retirement etc. Having said all that, they miss the UK like crazy, the eco awareness, the politics, the TV and struggle not to buy into the “consumerism” that they struggle to get away from in their new home.
    Having lived in several countries for two years at a stretch, having been raised abroad as a child, I can honestly say that I love England, the people, the politics, the newspapers, the markets, the awareness people have, the proximity to Europe, the amount people travel,the highstreets - it may cost me a lot to live here, I may have less money to spend on “stuff” but I feel pretty blessed to live here :)
    Now, I should say I would eventually like to have a family and that may mean moving further away from London years down the road, but I hope to always live somewhere there have access to the West End, museums & culture and where I can afford to get to the California sun once every few years :0)
    Sorry to ramble!! Great post!

    Posted by Frugal Trenches | April 16, 2008, 1:12 pm
  4. p.s. Beautiful picture, where did you get it from?

    Posted by Frugal Trenches | April 16, 2008, 1:13 pm
  5. @Frugal Trader:
    I love people who love England. Not many people will admit to it but it is in fact brilliant.

    The picture is via Flickr - images with creative commons licences can be used provided thatattribution is given.

    Posted by plonkee | April 16, 2008, 2:39 pm
  6. Great post! I have several friends who live in London, and I love to visit although I think it’s too big a city for me.
    Having lived in Vancouver for 2 1/2 years now, I know that when we move back I’ll probably start suffering from sticker shock. I’m trying to use the opportunity of cheaper living to save for my return. (of course all my N.American friends find it amusing that I use the phrase “cheaper living” in relation to Vancouver!- I guess a lot of it is relative)
    Oh, and I so miss free museums and art galleries.

    Posted by Looby | April 16, 2008, 3:09 pm
  7. Everywhere in UK, never mind just London has different cost of livings. Cities are generally more expensive, but even villages have different council tax, and additional parish taxes.

    Cities have more to do though, unless you only like to look at trees and rocks (and don’t get me wrong I like that). Typically though, when you live somewhere you never actually visit the interesting things around you for some reason.

    Posted by Llama for brains | April 16, 2008, 4:03 pm
  8. p.p.s. When I say I love the newspapers, I obviously mean the Guardian, Observer etc not papers like the Daily Mail ;)
    The Daily Mail is perhaps the worst part of living in the UK for me!
    So true, I think the tabloids are so very negative about life in the UK, they blow things way out of proportion and create a poor national identity. I also think that a lot of people who leave have to work just as hard if not harder than they had to here to “start over”. I think why it works for some is that they feel motivated to work all the hours under the sun for 2 weeks annual leave a year so they can have a big house and pool and live “the dream”. That’s fine if it’s what you want but very few walked into the dream upon arriving in their new country, many went through years of struggling. I think a lot of people who talk about leaving don’t understand what you are giving up! England is a wonderful country. Glad you appreciate it too :)

    Posted by Frugal Trenches | April 16, 2008, 5:27 pm
  9. What a beautiful photo! It makes me want to visit again. I visited once, but I was too young to appreciate it.

    Posted by SMB | April 16, 2008, 10:22 pm
  10. I must admit I factored in the cost of living when weighing what regions to list as my top choices for job placement. I did enjoy my two months in New York during my internship, but I know I’ll be able to save far more living in the Delta for two years than I would in just about any major city, even with the salary difference.

    Posted by E.C. | April 17, 2008, 1:23 am
  11. @SMB:
    You should come back some time. It’s well worth a visit, and it’s possible to do it all really cheaply.
    There’s a lot to be said for living in NYC, but there’s just as much real America in the Delta, if not more so. If I could do the TFA thing, I’d probably want to go to the Delta or the Rio Grande Valley - it’s a side that most people are less likely to see.

    Posted by plonkee | April 17, 2008, 8:10 am
  12. My husband & I stayed in London for three months while I worked on my dissertation. My gosh! The expense would take your breath away–and he could afford it.

    But what a city! It’s a wonderful place.

    On the other hand, I have to say all of England is interesting and a good place to be, by and large. Once you get into the countryside where folks are less stressed, the people are delightful and the lifestyle is much more comfortable. I guess if I ever had the opportunity to live in England, I’d be attracted to towns like Tunbridge.

    Posted by Funny about Money | April 17, 2008, 3:34 pm
  13. @Funny about Money:
    London is brilliant. I’m not sure I’d be describing English people as delightful, although once you get north or west of London they can be very friendly. And we do know how to queue properly, which, as everyone knows is the hallmark of a wondrous nation.
    There are loads of nice towns all over the country, some of them are much cheaper than others. If I was going to live in a reasonably frugal town, I’d probably pick Lichfield in Staffordshire, or Ely in Cambridgeshire, but then I’m a sucker for cathedrals.

    Posted by plonkee | April 17, 2008, 4:26 pm
  14. London is amazing, but it’s a dangerous drug. There are easily as many downsides as upsides. I’ve lived there for several stretches over the years, and it’s always incredible when outside the city to think “I spent £8,000 in the past year just to share that flat?” Or £20,000 if you live on your own.

    I do think it’s changed a lot, too. 15 years ago there were still vaguely bohemian areas in zone 2, but now it’s all been pushed out and dispersed. Berlin or even New York (bits of Brooklyn, say) are better places to be exciting and young these days, I’d suggest.

    Posted by Monevator | April 19, 2008, 4:29 pm
  15. Plonkee,

    Completely identify with where you are coming from. I bought a studio a month ago in ridiculously priced Sydney.. for those of you interested, it was 27sqm for $255,000! At first I had my heart set on staying on the north shore (view here http://www.flickr.com/photos/wufflebunny/2153685956/ :P) where I had been living, or moving into the suburbs closer to my family, but doing so would have cost at least 400 - 500K and added at least 11 more miserable years to my mortgage. Now I am in a tiny shoebox on the other side of town, but happy that I have a realistic mortgage which will free up my money quicker and let me have several quick and dirty properties in the 16 years it would have taken me to pay off one, and I will be much better off doing things this way. I know buying a home is an emotional as much as it is a financial decision, but maybe we could be happier (and have less scary mortgages) if we saw houses as stepping stones to the house we want as opposed to wanting our dream home all at once.

    Posted by wufflebunny | April 23, 2008, 4:13 am
  16. I think this is London bridge picture.Good looking pictures.

    Posted by Medical Center in Florida | December 22, 2010, 10:34 am

Post a comment

Proud member of the