On average, UK households spend £586 per week (£2,538 a month) to cover living expenses including a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, clothes on our backs, and transport to and from work or school—but costs are higher if you rent or have a mortgage. We've analyzed data from the latest 2018/19 Living Costs and Food Survey from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in order to better understand average spending levels across these major categories, and more.
Depending on where you live, your stage of life, and your financial circumstances, you may also be spending extra on childcare, college tuition or health care. For an analysis of how spending changed in recent years, please see our article Household Budget Winners and Loser in 2017: Transport, Household Goods, Restaurants & Hotels and Education. And if you're hoping to make your budget stretch further, read about 10 ways to reduce your monthly expenses.
- Average Household Budget
- Housing & Household Expenditures
- Transportation Costs
- Food Costs & Other
Note: The figures in this article come from the Office for National Statistics and reflect average spending across all households, combining households that do and do not spend on a given line item. As a result, you may notice that some figures don't accurately reflect the true cost for a user. If any particular line items jump out at you in this regard, please kindly let us know in the comments and we will try to address the limitations of the ONS data with further explanation, analysis or colour.
Average Household Budget in the UK
In 2019 the average UK household budget was £2,538 a month (£30,451 a year) based on an average of 2.4 people per household, according to the latest ONS Family Spending report. Compared to 2018, expenditures on household bills increased 2.3% in 2019. But your housing situation can mean you spend a lot more or less.
Where does the typical household budget go? Brits spend the most on transportation, housing and food. In fact, 14% of our household budgets goes towards transportation, 11% to rent or mortgage interest (that's on average, across renters, mortgage holders and households owning their home) and 11% to feed ourselves. Here's how the average household budget breaks down by category, on a weekly, monthly and annual basis:
|Average Household Expenditures||Weekly Outgoings||Monthly Outgoings||Annual Outgoings||% of Budget|
|Housing (average overall, including repairs)||£66.70||£289||£3,468||11%|
|Owned outright (repairs and maintenance)||£12||£52||£629||2.1%|
|Own with a mortgage (including repairs)||£184||£798||£9,573||29.4%|
|Food and non-alcoholic drinks||£61.90||£268||£3,219||11%|
|Restaurants and hotels||£49.60||£215||£2,579||8%|
|Recreation and culture (e.g., pets, gym fees, TV, etc.)||£46.50||£202||£2,418||8%|
|Household (e.g., furniture, linens, appliances, etc.)||£40.80||£177||£2,122||7%|
|Utilities (e.g., water, gas, electric, etc.)||£34.40||£149||£1,789||6%|
|Clothing and footwear||£24.40||£106||£1,269||4%|
|Personal (e.g., toiletries, jewellery, sunglasses, etc.)||£16.60||£72||£863||3%|
|Vices (e.g., alcohol, tobacco, etc.)||£13.00||£56||£676||2%|
|Money transfers and credit (e.g., cash gifts)||£13.90||£60||£723||2%|
|Licences, fines and transfers (e.g., stamp duty, road tax)||£4.20||£18||£218||1%|
|Average Total Spending||£585.60||£2,538||£30,451||100%|
Average Monthly Household Spending
The average UK household spends £2,538 a month on household bills—according to the average (and unlikely!) household size of 2.4 people. However this figure averages all households (including those with no rent or mortgage expenses)— housing costs would be lower for those owning a home outright and higher for those with a mortgage or renting, as you can see in the table and chart below (in green).
|Average Monthly Budget, by household type||Average Household (2.4 people)|
What are typical budgets for different household sizes? We've adjusted the numbers to fit different household sizes, assuming that all expenses adjust proportionally on a per person basis—however this may not always be the case. Using this method, here are average household budgets by household size:
|Average Monthly Budget, by household size||Social Renters||Private Renters||Mortgage||Outright Homeowners||Average|
|Average Household (2.4 people)||£2,691||£3,117||£2,994||£2,249||£2,538|
|Family (couple + children)||£3,300||£3,751||£3,669||£2,811||£3,172|
Note: To estimated non-housing expenses for a family with children we divided the average household costs by 2.4 and then multiplied by 3, which could reflect a family of 3 or 4 depending on child ages. Ultimately, costs for a family depend on the number and age of the children.
Average Cost of UK Housing
The average UK household spends £6,000 on utilities and other household operational and maintenance expenses and equipment, as well as household goods & services. In addition to this, many household spend on rent and mortgage payments. Of those renting, the average monthly rent in the UK is actually £868 for private renters and £442 for social renters. The average spent on mortgage payments is £745 a month.
A full breakdown of average housing expenses is illustrated in the chart below.
To see how much the average household spends on household goods & services like furniture, furnishings and appliances, please see our related article Who Spends the Most Making a House a Home? which breaks down how much we spend according to age.
|Breakdown of UK Housing Costs per household||Weekly||Monthly||Annual|
|Rent for Households Renting from Housing Association/Local Authority||£102||£442||£5,304|
|Rent for Households Renting Privately||£200||£868||£10,416|
|Mortgage Payments for Households with a Mortgage||£172||£745||£8,944|
|Utilities (water, gas & electric, internet, landline, TV subscriptions, etc.)||£40.60||£176||£2,111|
|Household Goods & Services||£40.80||£177||£2,122|
|Maintenance & Home Improvements||£33.80||£146||£1,758|
|Average Total Housing Costs per Household||£204.00||£884||£10,608|
|Total Housing Costs per Social Renting Household||£131||£567||£12,834|
|Total Housing Costs per Privately Renting Household||£229||£993||£17,946|
|Total Housing Costs per Household with Mortgage||£201||£870||£16,474|
|Total Housing Costs per Household Owning Outright||£29||£125||£7,530|
Total costs for a regular roof over your head, whether rented or owned with a mortgage, typically eat up around 35% of an average UK household’s income, give or take. While the largest component of housing costs is rent or mortgage interest, a close second is the cost of utilities. The cost of Gas & Electric is usually a household's largest utility expense, but the bills for communications and entertainment services are nearly as expensive. Recent increases in the marketplace have led to a government push to encourage consumers to switch suppliers, in an effort to keep these costs down.
|Breakdown of Home Services & Utilities Costs per household||Weekly||Monthly||Annual|
|Electric & Gas||£24.60||£107||£1,279|
|Communications and TV/video services (TV Subscriptions, streaming services, landline and mobile phones, internet, etc.)||£24.30||£105||£1,264|
|Average Annual Costs||£58.70||£254||£3,052|
Average UK Transportation Costs
The second largest cost for the average UK household, behind housing, is transport. We spend an average of £4,748 per year to get around, a 0.3% drop from 2018—this is more than the average household spends on rent/mortgage interest payments a year.
The largest component of our travel budget is operating our personal vehicles. We spend just over £1,200 a year on petrol & diesel per household, and the typical cost of car insurance per household (not per car) is £582 per year. The used car market is hot—we spend nearly twice as much money buying used cars than we do on new! On a per-car basis, households spend about £3,100 a year on car running costs.
The average amount spent on public transport is around £1,097 year (£91 a month), which is primarily spent on bus, train and tube rides and international airfare (£359 per year/£29.90 a month spent across each category).
|Breakdown of Average UK Transportation Costs per household||Weekly||Monthly||Annual|
|Purchase of Vehicles||£24.00||£104||£1,248|
|Petrol & Diesel||£23.20||£101||£1,206|
|Vehicle Operation Expenses||£11.80||£51||£614|
|Average Annual Transportation Costs per Household||£91.30||£396||£4,748|
Average UK Food Costs
The third largest household budget category is food. The average UK household spends £3,220 a year on groceries and non-alcoholic drinks at home. Another £473 is spent on alcohol (mostly wine) for consumption at home. Eating and drinking out consumes a further £2,115 from our household budgets. All in, food and drink consume 19.1% of our total annual budgets, and food prices in the UK have been rising around +2% a year.
While food is, of course, a necessity for life, it’s often considered a fungible category in a household budget. After all, a family could dine on spaghetti with a touch of homemade bolognese, for a low cost meal. Or we could go out to a London hot spot and drop a hundred pounds or more on one dinner.
To gauge a basic minimum for food costs, we can look at the budgets of our poorest households, who are presumably eating as cheaply as they can. Households with disposable incomes less than £11,000 per year still spend about £2,570 annually on food and alcoholic drinks in total. They eat at home more often, spending around 75% of their food & drink budget for consumption at home, with a quarter of the budget spent out of the house. The highest earning households, those with more than £70,250 of annual disposable incomes, spend £10,785 on food & drinks, with nearly half (44%) of the budget spent dining out. For more details, see our related articles Average Annual UK Food Spending and Average Alcohol Spending in the UK.
The first step to making a household budget stretch further is arguably understanding where your money is currently going. Once you see what is being spent where, you'll be better able to find areas of your budget that might have some flexibility. For example, if you spend a high proportion of your food budget on takeaways you could limit these to a treat once a week, cooking at home the rest of the time to save money.
To understand your finances you can sit down with pen and paper and go through your bank statements and credit card bills once a month. Alternatively, there are a number of handy tech resources at our disposal these days. For example, Money Dashboard is a personal finance app where you can easily view all your accounts and track your spending by category—it's rated 4.9 out of 5 stars by existing customers and is free to use.
Note: Updated in May 2020 to reflect the most recent Living Costs and Food Survey from the ONS.