A graduate's cost of living in London vs Manchester

Lara Billington
Content Marketing Executive

London and Manchester are the two most popular cities in the UK for graduates - but how does their cost of living compare? 

With graduate retention rates of 77% and 51.5% respectively, London and Manchester are graduate hotspots. The wealth of job opportunities available and the promise of a city lifestyle make London appealing, whilst Manchester offers a more relaxed pace of life where everything is within walking distance.

But how does the cost of living compare between these two cities?

Well, we've collated data on the current cost of living in London and Manchester from the world's largest database, Numbeo, to tell you. Numbeo collects data from thousands of user inputs and authoritative sources twice a year to determine the average cost of everything from rent to a McDonald's meal, in locations all around the world. 





For a one bedroom apartment in Manchester's city centre you'll be looking at paying between £650-900 per month on rent. By comparison, for the same apartment in the centre of London the average rent price is an eye-watering £1,300- 2,300.

If you're happy to share a place and live further out of the city, a three bedroom apartment outside London's centre averages at £2,004 per month, so £670 per person. You'll get more bang for your buck in Manchester, but will the capital be right on your doorstep? No, it won't. 



If you love wining and dining, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Manchester will set you back between £7 and £20, with the average meal costing £12. In London the cost of eating out isn't dissimilar, with the price range spanning £10-20 and averaging at £15.

McDonald's lovers, you might be surprised to hear that you'll have to fork out more for a McMeal in London. A whole pound(er) more in fact, with the average price of a combo deal coming in a £6 in London, versus £5 in Manchester. Outrage. 

In terms of groceries, it all depends on what you're buying. Milk, bread, cheese and wine will cost you more in London, but rice, bananas and potatoes are more expensive in Manchester. So on average, you'll probably be paying around the same for a supermarket shop in London as you would in Manchester. 



A one-way ticket using local transport will cost you £2.50 in London and £2.80 in Manchester. For a monthly pass however, Manchester wipes the floor with the capital, with the average cost coming in at £64 in Manchester versus £150 in London. This might be hard to hear if you're looking to move to London, but it does makes sense given the sheer size of London compared to Manchester. 

If you drive, petrol will cost you more in London, as will a Volkwagen Golf with a 1.4 engine (or any equivalent new car). 


Any extras 

Unfortunately for London dwellers, the price of a gym or fitness club membership per month is substantially higher - you'll be paying around £42 compared to £26 in Manchester. The same goes for buying clothes and shoes, with London prices creating a bigger hole in your pocket than those in Manchester. 




Don't forget the salary difference... 

Across the board, the overall cost of living is about 18.27% lower in Manchester than London, with the average monthly costs per person coming in at £638.02 excluding rent. In London, you'll be set back around £200 more, with the average monthly cost totalling to £811.63. 

Despite its high costs, you'd be looking at a healthier salary as a graduate in the capital. According the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey, the average salary for a graduate in London is £24,996 compared to a lesser £21,006 in Manchester. Saying that, according to Numbeo's Cost of Living Index, despite earning more in London you're still likely to have more disposable income as a graduate in Manchester. 


Whether you're after the more affordable option or you can't resist the bright lights of the big city, there are plenty of job opportunities available for graduates in London and Manchester on our website.