Tuesday, February 5, 2008

By the Numbers

When making the decision on whether to move to London or not-and especially when negotiating my salary & other 'moving benefits', the biggest question I had was: how much was it going to cost to live there. Really. And for the cost, what exactly am I getting. Really.

I had played tourist in London many times, most recently as of June 2007, and from these experiences, I knew that cost of living-if it approximated what it cost to be a tourist-was at least 2X what my Seattle (or even general US) cost of living was. Ouch.

It goes without saying that I wasn't successful negotiating a 2X salary increase (but it would have been great if I could have), and so I've really been scratching my head the past few months of, "*how* exactly do I make this work?" From other research, I do know that, just like in the US, I will make more than the average Londoner, but that's really it. Information I was able to find on the web was either so dated (2005), made for students planning on studying abroad, or so generic that it was really hard to put it all together. So, in the effort to maybe help some poor soul who may eventually stumble across this blog, I've decideded to give a peek into the true London cost of living-and yes, be a bit forthcoming about my salary & taxes along the way.

So, warning: If you DON'T WANT TO KNOW MY SALARY, STOP READING this post now.

Currently, my back of the envelope calculation tells me the following about my monthly income and expenses. These are just guesses now based upon what my general current monthly costs are, and factoring in lifestyle changes like more travel, less eating out & clothing shopping. The realities of these costs will bear themselves out over the upcoming months, and I will update actual costs as regularly as I can. It will also be interesting for me to see just how far off I likely am on this initial guess...All numbers below are in pounds.

Monthly take home pay (post taxes): 4300
Rent 1500 (this is just my half assuming I have a roomie & we're crammed into 700 sf)
401(k): 200
Insurance: 50 (rental)
Medical: 50
Transportation: 300
Food: 300
Travel: 500 (yes, I plan to do this A LOT)
Utility bills (power, mobile): 200
Entertainment: 300
Clothing: 200
"Stuff": 200
Total expenses: 3800

So, in theory, I should have 500 pounds left over at the end of every month for savings. Which, I hope to god I do, because I will continue to have US expenses (mortgage of $700 that exceeds my rental income, storage costs of ~$30, and I'm sure another $100 for 'stuff' like insurance). So, when all is done, if the numbers above are sold, I'll almost break even every month. Which is a far cry from my lifestyle here in the US. And, a little scary.

Stay tuned. I'll either be OK, or buying Ramen in bulk.

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