The UK cities where it’s possible to live on minimum wage

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Susan Devaney
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Earlier this year the National Minimum Wage increased to £7.83, but is it enough to survive on? 

For many people across the UK, living on the National Minimum Wage means having to really budget. 

It has been estimated that the new rate, which came into place on 1 April, has directly impacted between 260,000 to 360,000 UK workers.

Which is why a recent study carried out by Silver Door Apartments has shed light on whether or not the recently increased NMW from £7.50 to £7.83 is actually enough to live on. 

By looking at cities across the UK the researchers took into account Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index. By comparing the average monthly cost of living based on being single, the team considered the average rent for a one bedroom property in every city, working an average of 40 hours per week and living costs such as food, transport and utilities – including tax.

Here are the top five cities:


Derby secured the top spot with living costs of £548.49 and rent of £405, totalling living costs of £953.49. Leaving £299.31 leftover at the end of the month for enjoyment. 


The capital city of Northern Ireland leaves earners with £257.62 at the end of the month after spending £544.18 on living costs, £451 on rent and £995.18 on everything else. 


Coming in third, rent in Liverpool averages at £463, with living costs of £564.21 and a total living costs of £1,027.21 – with £225.59 leftover at the end of the month. 


With total living costs of £1,068.62, rent of £443 and living costs of £625.62, earners are left with £184.18 to spend throughout the remainder of the month. 


If you’re earning minimum wage in Sheffield you’ll have £176.68 to spend on you after forking out £519 on rent, £557.12 on living costs – with a total spend of £1,076.12 on living costs altogether. 

And the bottom five cities:


We’re all too aware of how expensive London can be which is why it comes as no surprise that it’s taken the top spot for people not being able to live in the city while earning minimum wage. With rent of £1,623, living costs of £758.16 and total living costs of £2,381.16 means you’d be in a deficit of £1,128.36 every month. Ouch. 


Highlighting a rather big difference in comparison to London, total living costs of £1,566.10 and rent of £951 would leave you in the red of £313.30 month on month in Edinburgh. 


With total living costs of £1,539.25, rent of £874 and general living costs of £665.25 would mean you’d find yourself in a financial deficit of £286.45. 


Coming in fourth, Oxford doesn’t fare much better. With average rent costing £877, general living costs of £637.43 and total living costs of £1, 514.43, would leave you in debt of £261.63 every month. 

Brighton and Hove 

Brighton and Hove come in joint at fifth place with rent of £860, general living costs of £624.33, total living costs of £1,484.33, resulting in a deficit of £231.53. Oh dear. 

The National Living Wage is not enforceable, but recommended - but the National Minimum Wage is enforced by HM Revenue and Customs.

Currently 3,500 UK employers have voluntarily signed up to pay their workers the ‘real living wage’ to ensure they receive a fair day’s wage.

You can read more on the new changes here

Images: Unsplash / Getty 


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Susan Devaney

Susan Devaney is a digital journalist for, writing about fashion, beauty, travel, feminism, and everything else in-between.