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 annual salary is currently £25,581.00.

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 - £38,036 and £35,784 respectively. 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.

In 2016-17 the first £10,600 of your income is tax-free, and you pay 20% in tax on the next £31,875. For most people, the top rate of tax is 40%.

Most employed people pay Class 1 National Insurance. In 2016-17, this normally means you pay 12% on your earnings between £672-£3,532 per month and 2% on your earning over £3,532 per month.

You can calculate your potential Salary on Payscale.com.

Expenditure costs

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 £200,000 on average, compared to the UK average of £274,000. The average monthly rent is £537.

Food

The average household spends £54.80 per week on food, which 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

Most households will spend about £25 per week on gas and electricity for their home. 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. The average household spends £12.40 per week on public transport.

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.

Most people in Scotland spend an average of £23.20 per week on fuel.

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.