How much money do you need to earn to live comfortably in London?

For recent graduates with their sights set on London, there is the all-important question: how much money do you need to earn to live comfortably?

While the entirety of the UK has been experiencing a cost of living crisis since late 2021, it is estimated that London is 27% more expensive to live in than the rest of the UK.

Recruitment firm Reed found in a survey that Londoners estimated a salary of around £65,000 as the minimum required to live comfortably.

For context, the average entry-level salary is £32,500.

A Time Out study estimated that in order to be happy in London, you must be making upwards of £79,500 a year. This figure only covers the top 10 percent of earners in London, and feels widely out of reach for most grads.

The basic financial requirements for happiness vary from person to person, so the figures are largely subjective.

The article also took care to note that how one spends their money is more important in determining happiness than how much they earn, once basic expenses are taken care of.

When speaking to recent graduates, the estimates varied greatly depending on what one considered comfortable.

For most, it meant being able to enjoy day-to-day life without worrying about budgeting. For others, being comfortable included having a certain degree of luxury, such as being able to save for expenses such as holidays and mortgages.

Recruitment consultant Charlotte, 22, said: “I think 28k is enough to live comfortably if you are not too bothered about saving.

“I am comfortable in the sense that I don’t feel restricted on what I can buy day to day.

“However, nothing is lavish or pricey; it is all very standard.

“I can’t have lunch out everyday, so I’m still having to budget in that sense.

“I can’t imagine trying to plan for a mortgage or any big life investment right now.”

Maddy, a 22-year-old sales intern said: “35k a year is my estimate.

“Most people at our age (grads) will be on 30k and will be doing fine.”

Harry, a 23-year-old audit associate, estimated 40k a year. He said: “Any lower than that would mean living pay-check to pay-check, and that isn’t exactly comfortable.”

Hope, a 22-year-old medical writer, and Lauren, a 23-year-old student, both estimated 35-40k.

Lauren said: “Being comfortable would mean that I could go on nights out or out for dinner without having to worry about it.

“Being comfortable to me would mean not having to budget, or worry about what I’m buying.”

Sarah, 22, a masters student, estimated 50k. She said: “Living comfortably would mean not having to worry about things like having the heating on because of energy bills.

“It would mean that worries about cost would not stop me from doing something I want to do, like a dinner with friends.”

Olivia, a 23-year-old parliamentary researcher, said: “I think you’d need to earn at least 100k to live comfortably in London.

“Being comfortable would mean having the ability to live without budgeting for your rent/mortgage, and to be able to pursue hobbies and go on days out without stress or worry.

“Being comfortable to me also means not having to compromise on my living conditions, and being able to live in a safe area.”

Emma is a finance app with a considerable presence on Tiktok, interviewing members of the public on the streets of London about their own salaries. They also ask participants the minimum salary they estimate someone must earn to live comfortably in London.


Personal finance is not taboo episode 53!! 🤑 We have taken to the streets of London to discuss our favourite topic-Money! 💰 Today we spoke with a doctor working in both the NHS & private sector! 🩺 #streetinterview #salarytransparency #interviewingstrangers #personalfinance #emmafinanceapp

♬ original sound – Emma – Money & Budgeting App

Edoardo Moreni, Co-Founder and CEO of Emma, said: “In terms of what we have seen from the street interviews, £50-70k seems to ideal target salary for a Londoner to be living in the city.”

 Explaining the motivation behind Emma, he said: “We are a mobile app that helps consumers gain visibility and transparency across their finances.

“We are bringing our day-to-day jobs out into the streets hoping to make finance easy and accessible to everyone.”

Olivia’s estimate of 100K echoes some of the participants in Emma’s Tiktok videos.

One 20-year-old working in tech said: “100k is a baseline people need to be earning to live in London.”

A 65-year-old doctor earning 600K estimated higher. He said: “I don’t see how you can live in the city on 100k a year.”

The app uses Open Banking to track all transactions across different accounts. It aims to help people track their spending, and invest money.

The app’s TikTok page promotes the message that “personal finance is not taboo”. They use their street interviews to encourage open conversations about finances in London.

Image credits: “London” by barnyz is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Join the discussion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles