Cost of living in Scotland

Living in Scotland is generally less expensive than many other areas in the UK. Weekly household costs can be 20% lower than in London and 10% cheaper than the UK as a whole. So you can have it all, for less.

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Cost of Living

Income

Salaries

The average weekly salary is currently £563 before tax (approx. $750)

Scotland’s average earnings are the third highest of the 12 UK countries and regions - with only London and the South East having higher average earnings.  

Aberdeen and Edinburgh offer some of the highest average salaries in the UK. London is the only UK city where average wages are higher.  

You can find out about earnings on the office for National Statistics website.

Take-home pay

Everyone who works in Scotland pays Income Tax and National Insurance from their earnings for the public services and benefits provided by the government. In most cases, your employer automatically deducts these from your monthly salary.  
 
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum pay per hour most workers under the age of 25 are entitled to by law.

The government’s National Living Wage (NLW) is the minimum pay per hour most workers aged 25 and over are entitled to by law.

It is a criminal offence for an employer not to pay someone the NMW or NLW. The rate depends on the employee’s age and whether or not they are an apprentice.

Find out more about the NMW and NLW at gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates

Employees pay between 0 and 46% tax, depending on their earnings. HMRC provides each employee with a tax code to make sure they pay the right amount of tax.

You can calculate your potential Salary on Payscale.com.

Expenditure costs

Scotland’s cities offer monthly living costs that are roughly 10% lower than other UK cities such as Cambridge and Oxford and as much as 30% lower than London.

Source: Expatistan Cost of Living Calculator – Jan 2020

Out of 209 city locations worldwide, the 2019 Mercer Cost of Living City Ranking placed Aberdeen (137th) and Glasgow (145th) among the least expensive locations for working.

Source: Mercer – Cost of Living City Ranking 2019

Housing

Although house prices and rent are often lower than other parts of the UK, prices vary according to where you live and the type of property you have. Property prices in Scotland are £155,029 on average, compared to the UK average of £ £231,185. The average monthly rent is £676 in Scotland compared to UK average of £967.

Food

The average household spend on food is lower than most other parts of the UK (of course, the cost of your weekly groceries depends on what you buy, the number of people you shop for and where you go). 

You can compare food prices on mysupermarket.com

Home energy

Home energy prices will depend on how energy efficient your home is – you will get a note of this when you rent or buy a home. The price also depends which energy supplier you choose.

You can compare energy suppliers on uswitch.

Water rates

Scottish Water provides the water services to most households in Scotland. Water charges are normally included in your council tax, unless your home or flat has a water meter. In this case, Scottish Water will send you a bill to pay them directly.

You can find more about water rates from citizens advice.

Getting around

Well-organised road, rail and ferry networks link Scotland from cities to the coastline. If you plan ahead, you can often get cheap travel deals.

Public transport

If you’re going to make a trip regularly for work, you can save money by purchasing weekly, monthly or annual season tickets.

You can find out more about public transport on Transport Scotland.

Cars

Generally, car prices in Scotland are similar to other parts of the UK. If you know what you’re looking for, you can usually get a good price. You can compare the price of cars on various online car dealers offering both new and used vehicles.

You can compare used car prices on Car Finder and compare fuel prices on Whatgas.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

VAT is a sales tax that is applied to most goods and services. When you buy goods from a shop the price will include VAT. When buying services, VAT is often shown as a separate amount and when getting a quote - you should check whether the price includes or excludes VAT.  
 
The standard rate of VAT is 20%. Some items such as children’s clothing and most food are zero rated, while VAT on home energy is 5%.  

You can find out about VAT, rates and exemptions on Gov.UK.