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messageRealistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by AnnieC October 11, 12:14AM

Hi everyone
Were an Australian family of 4, looking to relocate internationally to Dulwich or surrounds early in the new year.

My husband was offered a job two weeks before covid hit. So after months of waiting, and working through the process, it now looks like it might happen.

But, were really struggling to approximate the monthly cost of living in London.

Id like to estimate a monthly budget.Would anyone be willing to share (privately?) how much per month you think is needed for a young family of 4 to live a comfortable life in London?

Im also needing some guidance on things like rent, transport, utilities + living costs.
- Do you think well need a car? Any tips on best locations to live for shortest commute to Old street?
- Childcare prices seem to range incredibly, how does that work?
- Wed like 4 bedrooms + garden. Are there any pockets near Dulwich/adjacent areas with good state schools that are slightly less rent than smack bang in the middle of Dulwich Village (assuming this is higher)?

I have looked on numbeo.com - but the references for our own home city are quite off...so Im not assuming its accurate for London either!

Kids are 1yo + 4yo, and wed need 2-3 days care. We use Au Pairs in Aus. Husband will be working near Old Street. Were planning on local primary schools rather than private.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was october 11, 12:19am by AnnieC.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by Pugwash October 11, 01:59PM

I would imagine if you are looking for a 4 bed rental property in South East London you are looking around 2000 per month. Child Minders charge anything from 7 per hour, nurseries around 50 per day and generally have long waiting lists

Council tax for a 4 bed house is likely to be around 1599 - 2000 per year depending on area.

Judging from own experience with family, with 2 children assuming you do not purchase very expensive food, you will probably have to allocate a budget of at least 3000 a month but this obviously be influenced by housing, transport and utility costs.

Cheaper areas near ED - Forest Hill/Sydenham, Penge. If you want to move out further - Orpington is quite good having a variety of housing stock.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by AnnieC October 12, 11:52AM

Thanks pugwash! So appreciate you time + response.

If rental is 2000+ (most weve seen are more like 2500+) and childcare is 1200 (50 a day x 3days x 2 kids)

Plus 3k for all the other things...that gets us close to 6500/7000 per month.

This is still a fair bit lower than the calculations based on online numbers!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was october 12, 12:21pm by AnnieC.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by tomskip October 12, 12:46PM

If you are renting a 4 bed detached house then I think that will be more than 2000 per month. Have a look on the property website Right Move to give you an idea. Try the postcodes SE22, SE15, SE23 maybe. Dulwich Village is SE21 and you are right, it will be a lot more expensive.

Having said that, Old Street underground station is on the northern line so if he wants to travel by tube he would have a more direct journey if you look in south west London in Balham, Clapham, Stockwell, Oval or Kennington (although, again, these areas are more expensive for housing precisely because of the proximity to the tube).

South east London isn't served by the underground. From East Dulwich he could take the overground train to London Bridge and change to the underground there but the trains get absolutely jam packed at commuting times.

East Dulwich to Old Street is quite a long commute by bike or bus.

If you are paying 2,500 per month in rent and childcare for 2 children for 3 days a week, I'd estimate you'd need a combined income of quite a bit over 100,000 pa to be comfortable. 100,000 with tax and national insurance deducted equates to about 5,500 per month net. I don't know if he'd pay national insurance, but this is just to give you a rough idea.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by Ginster October 12, 02:27PM

I just walked past an estate agents and saw a 4 bed house for 3000k a month! So it will vary but hopefully 2k is more like it for you. Re the commute, you can get the Overground from Peckham Rye or Denmark Hill to Shoreditch High Street and then it isn't that far of a walk to Old Street. (Or as said, London Bridge then Northern Line).
Shopping can really vary as ours has shot up now we're all at home a lot moreExclaimation but we can probably lower eating out budget at the same time. Family of 4 here and weekly shop can vary from 80 to 120 depending (occasionally buy kids clothes in supermarket so spikes up the cost).
Childcare is pricey, you can try so may different options though to work out what is best. Childminder, Nursery, Nanny (or Nanny share to lower costs). We started with a childminder then nursery and it gets steadily cheaper as they get older so something to think about that you might have a larger hit initially. Also once they're in school that is a big chunk of spend you lose so it's only for a few years.
Car - that is totally down to your lifestyle. Ours is mostly used for weekly shop and visits to parents (parent visits would be so much effort and longer by public transport). Prior to the car I used to have a pull along trolley and get the bus home from the supermarket so it's possible (but wasn't shopping for 4 then!).
Houses - we are SE15 but 30 seconds from SE22 so you can try to get clever by being close to where you want but just outside. If you join "East Dulwich Mums" on Facebook you occasionally see people putting their properties on there before trying estate agents so you never know you could get lucky.

From what I hear from friends in Oz it's pretty expensive there so hopefully you'll find you're going in the right direction!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was october 12, 02:28pm by Ginster.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by Froglander October 12, 04:46PM

You should look in areas on the Overground East London Line, as Ginster mentioned - As well as Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill, look at Brockley, Forest Hill, Honor Oak, Sydenham, Penge and Crystal Palace.

There are a lot of budget supermarkets like Lidl, Aldi and Iceland.

Other supermarkets like Waitrose, Sainsbury, Asda and Tesco all do home delivery, and that includes Iceland.

There are car clubs here to rent a car for use if you dont have one at first.

Look into the use of Oyster cards on Transport for London on the TFL website - Transport for London.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit was october 12, 05:08pm by Froglander.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by Lemming October 12, 08:15PM

I doubt if there's a single 4 bed house to be had in SE22 for anything close to 2k/pcm (?!)

Even the modest/smaller 4 beds must be more like 2.5k - 3k

Larger/extended ones 3.5 - 4 (and above)

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by PeckhamNicola October 13, 06:27AM

What about North London? E.g. Winchmore Hill to old street, 4 direct trains per hour, takes under half an hour. Palmers Green / Alexandra palace are en route, the latter would only be 20 mins to old street. Schools have more outdoor space.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by AnnieC October 13, 10:06AM

Thanks everyone - great context and thinking.

Were pretty sure we want to be in SouthEast. The few ppl we do know live in brixton + Emephant&castle + Pekham. The fast train from Sth East to elephant or London bridge looked like it could be an option. Is 45 mins commute realistic?

Its sounding more like $6500+ per month is about right. Going up incrementally pending rent (which sounds like it varies understandably extensively!)

It also sounds like childcare/school is a bit of a consideration. I understand kids aged 3+4 get 15 hours for free. Is this offered at all childcare centers?

Our daughter will be 5 on aug 20 next year. So here she would be going into kindergarten Jan 2021 (aged 4.5), then starting primary school aged 5.5 in Jan 2022. Some kids are almost 6 before they start their allocated school yeah. Many families hold kids back till they are 6 deliberately. And the beautiful 4yo kindergarten year is viewed as one of the most important preparation years.

How do school intake on 1 Sep work for kids born in the UK summer? Someone told me some kids start school in the UK at 4!!!! (This cant be right?) surely this is a prep/kindy/pre-school type year? So our August daughter would start school the following September in 2022 aged (just) 6.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by Beulah October 13, 10:41AM

Pre-Lockdown me and my wife cycled to City area from Peckham every day by bike whatever the weather.
Takes abut 30mins door to door.
I personally wouldn't bother with public transport unless you have to use it for some reason.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by Ginster October 13, 11:36AM

Re school. Yes you start the September after you are 4 so she would have just started Reception here last month. It's a very play-based year with learning and fun. If you have a late summer born you can apply to have them defer, they would then start Reception the following September. I know someone who deferred as premature twins born 29th August. Another August baby deferred but then he matured so much over summer he then joined school in the 2nd week (luckily there was space). Germany don't start til 7, everywhere is different. Legally here they don't have to start til they are 5 but majority go with the Sept after 4 intake as that's what the UK does.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by redjam October 13, 06:02PM

As Ginster says, the Reception year in school is nothing like formal school. It's generally completely separate (separate outdoor space etc) and very child-focused and play-based. I don't know anyone who deferred and my own August-born child came on leaps and bounds that year.

Good luck with the move! Can't believe you're voluntarily coming from an Australian spring into a miserable British autumn/winter - can I swap with you please?!

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by AnnieC October 14, 05:36AM

Hey Redjam + Ginster - thanks for your thoughts. So useful to have local context. Separate (separate outdoor space etc) and very child-focused and play-based sounds very much like our kindergarten year! So that's put my mind at ease! With the flipped seasons/school year and the earlier intake....I was worried she would miss both kindergarten + reception....and go straight into year 1! with no foundation years!!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was october 14, 05:37am by AnnieC.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by Pugwash October 14, 12:57PM

Above is all good advice and people are more in tune to current rental prices than I am. I was basing on advice some years ago by estate agent for our own 4 bed house they quoted 1500 pm. Since then ED has become more desirable and housing costs have risen.

If I remember - Orpington goes to London Bridge/Victoria as my granddaughter uses this line frequently.

messageRe: Realistic cost of living in London with family of 4
Posted by bonaome October 17, 02:51PM

Good luck with it all AnnieC.

Rent is going to be your biggest outlay, so as tomskip says I would use [www.rightmove.co.uk] to have a look around. You can set the search for South East London and filter by property type, minimum beds. maximum price etc. If you could go down to 3 beds it would make quite a difference in price and perhaps not that much difference to your lifestyle. Just a thought.

A car will probably make your life significantly easier. If only for ferrying the kids to and from activities. Obviously it will depend on exactly where you live and if you're all stay at home sorts - but for most SE London families I would say a car is a necessity. You can budget by having a look on [www.autotrader.co.uk] On our narrow Victorian Streets most cars get quite a few dents and scratches. We've generally gone for a 2-3 year old Ford with reasonable milage and then not worried too much about the paintwork.

The biggest supermarkets where you could budget a monthly shop would be tesco.com and sainsbury's.co.uk

For transport costs have a look here [tfl.gov.uk]
If you are going to be going to Old Street 5 days a week, you're better off with a monthly pass.
For anything less, you can just pay as you go with any contactless bank card and you get all the benefits of price capping etc. This is useful for info

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit was october 17, 02:52pm by bonaome.

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