How Much Money Should I Save to Move to the UK? With a Cost Breakdown

How Much Money Should I Save To Move to the UK

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Now that you have made the big decision to move to the UK (congratulations!) you are probably thinking how much money should I save to move to the UK? I recommend saving over £7,000 as a single person. A budget like this will help you cover:

  • Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa (adjust to whether you need a visa and type, this could be as little as £75 if you have a British passport or as high £2,500 with a UK Ancestry)
  • Initial travel cost
  • Three months of accommodation (in a hostel)
  • UK Transportation
  • Food
  • Four to five weeks’ worth of bond money
  • Being without a job
  • and some money for fun activities.

Holy (add swear word) right? Is it really going to cost me that much money to move to the UK? Just translating it in Aussie terms that’s $14,000 which is a lot of money!

At the end of the day it is about your planning, risk factor and deals you can get. My sister only spent $5,000 of the $10,000 that she brought over but had me to support her. She spent her first 6 weeks rent free which you can image immensely help the pocket. 

London will be the most expensive destination to move to in the UK so if you plan to move to a cheaper city like Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff, Nottingham Belfast or Birmingham cost can decrease.

At the end of the day, the savvier you are with your accommodation, travel and food or happy to take the first job you are offered, the more room you have for being able to save less money. 

Initial Costs

There are numerous costs associated with moving across the world. These costs will all be one-offs to you moving to the UK budget, however, they may make a dent in your budget.

Visa Cost (if required)

Visa costs can quickly add up! You have the initial visa prices and then the immigration health surcharge (IHS)… Next thing you know you are bleeding money depending on how long your visa is.

Tier 4 Student and Tier Youth Mobility visa’s get a discount on the IHS cost. Each year your visa is valid for you only currently have to pay £300 per year.

A visa like UK Ancestry IHS cost is at £400 a year and it’s a five-year visa so next thing you are spending £2,000 on this charge.

The IHS cost is set to go up to £600 in 2020, ensure you are keeping up with the upcoming changes on the website.

Travel to the UK

Flight to the UK

You must get to the UK somehow! You’ll need to factor in flights, bus, train or however you plan to get here in your budget. The cost can be anything from £50 to £1,000 depending on your current location. The most I’ve had to pay for a one-way flight from Perth Australia was £500 so this is an area you can definitely reduce my estimated costs.

Able to be flexible on the dates you can travel? Then head to Google Flights or Skyscanner and use their handy calendar tool to find the best travel dates for your route, by locating the dates with the lowest fares.

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    Travel Insurance

    Travelling without travel insurance is a risk and it’s better to pay a few dollars for the peace of mind. If you are like me, sold all your belongings and only travelling with what you have left then it will be sad if you lost or had anything stolen!

    Costs of getting to/from airport

    Costs of getting to from airport
    The classic black cab will be more expensive to get to and from the airport, whereas a pre-booked minicab will be cheaper and at a set price. Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash

    Hopefully, this won’t be a massive expense, especially if a friend or a family member has a car and can drop you at the airport before you leave! Otherwise, it is another cost to factor in.

    Then it is figuring out how to get from the airport to your accommodation. If you plan on getting a taxi this will cost more, however, you can get pre-paid taxi service instead of metres which will be cheaper. Public transport or bus will be the cheapest option.

    For example, a taxi from Heathrow to Crystal Palace (Southeast London) costs between £40 and £60. The same route by public transport costs £8.40 although there are barely any lifts.


    Airlines will have baggage rules and it’s so easy to take the kitchen sink with you! It’s always cheaper to buy extra baggage up front than getting a shock at the airport. Alternatively, you can use shipping companies or the post to get those last items over.

    I’ve not included what it costs to ship furniture, household items and anything else over as I just bought everything I needed over here. This is where the cost of moving can significantly increase and depending on how long you plan on being here it may not be worth it if you are only here for two years.

    Costs when you arrive in the UK

    The best practice is of course to have more savings than you need to cover the costs of any worst-case scenario. As we’ve seen with 2020 you just never know what surprises are around the corner.

    I suggest that you allow 3 months worth of padding into your budget, however, I understand this is not always achievable. As this varies from person to person you will be able to adapt the budget to suit your needs.

    For example, you may be lucky to have friends or family to stay with saving on accommodation costs.

    If you are interested in the average cost of living in London check out this article. 

    Accommodation on Arrival

    Finding accommodation on arrival in the UK

    Firstly, you will need to factor in the cost of temporary housing, hotel or hostel while you are looking for a flat. I mention this in things you should organise before you move to the UK that I highly recommend you find accommodation that has a kitchen and allows you to cook your own food.

    Average Accommodation Cost:

    • The cheapest option is a hostel dorm at £15 to 40
    • Private Room in a Hostel or Airbnb £50+
    • Hotel Room or Whole Flat £100+

    It will be a major saving if you have friends or family to stay with! You could also look into couch surfing as another option to save money. Think about staying outside of the city or tourist areas to make your money go a bit further. 


    Kat and friend at Duck and Waffle

    As mentioned a kitchen is something that really helps the budget go for longer in the UK and food is an expense that can add up quickly!

    Just as an example, if I grabbed a coffee and croissant at Pret that would be £4 to £5, Lunch would set me back around £7 then dinner anything from £10 upwards for a dish then add drinks at £5 to £10.

    Versus a weeks’ worth of food and cooking. Personally, I spend between £15 to £30 per week on food shopping and this is about 5 breakfast, lunches and dinners.


    Catching the tube in London
    All aboard the bustling tube! Don’t let this photo fool you, peak times on the tube are intense! Super crowed platforms, everyone squeezing themselves on and occasionally smelling your neighbour’s armpit.

    Using three months as a basic guide this means you will need between £400 to £600 for transport.

    Somewhere like London will cost between £131 (zone 1 to 2 travel card) to £340 (zone 1 to zone 9 travel card) per month depending on zoning to give you an idea.

    There are ways that you can save on transport costs like staying walking distance to shopping centres, high streets and other amenities that you may need. That way you are only paying for transport to an interview, sightseeing or a day trip.

    Basic Needs

    One thing to note is it is very common to find furnished apartments or you can request that you landlord furnishes the apartment (this will be their choice).

    With a pre-furnished rental, you can expect the place to have bed frames/mattresses, tables, couches, fridge, washing machine etc. You will need to bring your owning bedding, towels, clothing and anything else you wish to make your place homely.

    I went to places like TK Maxx to buy quality products at a cheaper price like bedding, plates, ironing board, sheets, pots & pans.

    Phone sim card

    Most phone companies will offer low range prepaid sim cards for £10 and upwards. You’ll need to have an unlocked phone otherwise you will be locked into your current home provider. Below are just a few examples of the kind of deals you can get for £10 on a sim only contract:

    • Tesco’s £10 top-up gets you 3GB of data, 500 minutes and 5000 texts.
    • Giffgaff  £10 top-up gets you 3GB of data, unlimited minutes and unlimited texts.
    • Virgin Media £10 top-up gets you 2GB of data, 500 minutes and 500 texts.

    Spending Money

    Being new in the UK is understandably exciting and you most likely will want to explore your new city or town. In the UK there are a lot of free things to do which is super handy and of course some paid activities. Or trying out the latest coffee shop or restaurant.

    Rent and deposits

    Remember to budget for up-front costs such as rental deposit and first month’s rent. The rental deposit is typically four to five weeks’ rent.

    I suggest budgeting for the following:

    • 4 to 5 weeks deposit
    • 1 months’ rent in advance

    Want to know about renting in London, here are 10 things you need to know about before you rent in London.

    Finding A Job

    Just to give an indication of how long it took me to find a job, each time I have searched for a permanent job in the UK as a Project Manager it has taken about a month. Whereas my mum struggled as her career is a bit more niche and needed more time to find a job that suited her.

    Summary of Total Costs

    Let’s summarise the costs so we can get a rough indication of the start-up budget. The following figures are based on a single person and as I mentioned above budgeting for 3 months of living costs. Some careers may be quick to find a job and others will take a bit longer so it’s good to factor in how long you could be unemployed.

    Initial Travel Costs

    • Visa Costs (if required – based on a Youth Mobility visa at £850)
    • Flights (this will purely depend on where you are flying from and time of year) Up to £1000
    • Travel Insurance (depends on the type of cover you’d like to get) £40 to £100
    • Costs of getting to/from the airport (based on 1 taxi in London) £60 +
    • Luggage free unless shipping belongings over
    • A rough initial cost would be £2,010

    Costs when you arrive in the UK

    • Accommodation on Arrival (2 Months at £20 a night) £1,120 +
    • Food (based on my current food spend) £480 +
    • Travel (based on London travel cards) £400 to £600
    • Basic Needs (rough figure) £500
    • Phone (based on £10 prepaid sim card) £30+
    • Spending Money is your choice
    • Rent and deposit (Based on £750 rent and deposit in a shared house) £1,500
    • A total of 3 months would roughly be £4,230

    Be sure to download the savings tracking checklist (it can be opened with Google Sheets) which covers all the items I mentioned in the article.

    Let me know in the comments below in the comments how your savings are going!

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    1 thought on “How Much Money Should I Save to Move to the UK? With a Cost Breakdown”

    1. hey thanks for this! I’m living in Panama right now but I would love to move to the UK… this helps a lot.

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