Edinburgh vs London: A cost of living comparison

THE two capital cities are cultural epicentres that are ranked amongst the finest in the world. But they are often bemoaned for their high prices.

London and Edinburgh are popular places to live and work with high standards of living.
London and Edinburgh are popular places to live and work with high standards of living.

In terms of cost of living, what are the big differences between the two cities?


London: WC1A Edinburgh: EH1 (Within a one mile radius)

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    Princes Street, Edinburgh Picture: Jon Savage

    One bedroom flat - rent

    Looking around the centre of each city,how much will a one bedroom flat cost you per month? Within the mile radius there are several rooms to rent, but we looked at how much it would cost to rent the whole property. This criteria also excluded studio flats. Prices found on property comparison site Zoopla.com at time of writing:

    London: £1,430 pcm

    Edinburgh: £525 pcm

    The London Eye. Picture: Rob McDougall

    Central locations come at a premium, that’s a difference of £905 per month. Not exactly pocket change.

    One bedroom flat - buy

    For those with the cash looking to purchase a property in the city centre, here is what you can expect to be paying for the cheapest one bedroom flat in these premium areas.

    London: £374,950

    Princes Street, Edinburgh Picture: Jon Savage

    Edinburgh: £69,000

    The figures from rightmove.com highlight a staggering difference of £305,950, it’s little wonder why first time buyers are struggling in London. In Edinburgh, it seems like it would be cheaper to buy a flat on a mortgage than it is renting there.

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    The London Eye. Picture: Rob McDougall

    The average price of alcohol in bars and pubs differs dramatically between the two capitals (from travel comparison goeuro.co.uk):

    London: 33cl beer £4.74; Cocktail £8.20

    Edinburgh: 33cl beer £3.33; Cocktail £6.90

    While there’s not much difference in prices, on a night up they’d add up quickly. With a £1.41 difference in beer and £1.30 difference in cocktails.


    It’s one of the biggest costs workers have to face, and in big cities there seems almost no point in attempting to drive. Between insane traffic and obscene parking charges, public transport is usually the best option. These can be found on the Edinburgh and London transportation sites.

    London: Zone 1-3 travel four-week travel card £146.

    Edinburgh: Ridacard £54 for four weeks.

    While you get travel included across a range of transport in London, from buses to the underground, Edinburgh is more limited in its transport options. With only buses and tram available in the city, the smaller selections comes with a much smaller price - £92 cheaper.


    With a wider variety of jobs it would seem easy to think that London would be outstripping Edinburgh in pay. While there is certainly a larger amount of high paid jobs in London, Edinburgh’s lower cost of living makes it a popular place to work for many. Average salary figures in each city are taken from Payscale.com

    London: £40,752

    Edinburgh: £35,784

    A £5,000 a year difference in average pay, the cost of that would be outstripped in less than a year’s rent difference, leaving those in the Scottish capital with much more spare change than their London counterparts.


    It seems like a normal Saturday night activity but all those new releases can really add up. So what would it cost to go see the newest film at your local cinema?

    Looking at Star Wars: The Force Awakens, we checked the prices of seating for a regular 2D showing at 7pm on the same Thursday night from the same chain of cinema’s, for the cult hit. Screen prices from Vue cinemas.

    London: Regular £15.49; Premium not available

    Edinburgh: Regular £10.79; Premium £12.79

    For £3 cheaper, you can experience the film in a comfier seat with more leg room at Edinburgh’s Omni Centre than you can at Piccadilly in London.


    By using the highest rated curry houses on popular travel website Tripadvisor, we discovered how much it would cost for a vegetable pakora, chicken korma with rice and a side of popadoms.

    London: £18.65

    Edinburgh: £15.85

    While these prices exclude drinks, a sit down meal in a restaurant won’t set you back much more north of the border.

    London has out priced Edinburgh but there are several other similarly sized cities across the UK which give a better gauge on whether England is more expensive to live in than Scotland. Looking at population density Edinburgh would be closer in size to Sefton in Liverpool, where the average wage is only £24,887. However, while you’re being paid over £10,000 less you’d be paying £69,995 for a one bedroom flat - £995 more than in Edinburgh. A monthly travel ticket for Sefton will put you back £78.30 a month - £24.30 more than Edinburgh.

    Worthing, in West Sussex, has approximately the same population density of Glasgow. Worthing’s average salary is sitting at £25,733 while in Glasgow it is £3,000 more at £28,400. A central Glasgow one-bedroom will set you back around £68,000 while in Worthing it’s not much more than that at £68,500. A cinema ticket in both Glasgow and Brighton (Worthing’s nearest cinema) will both cost you £9.