Gaining an understanding of how much you’ll need to budget for day-to-day expenses when you move to the USA is highly recommended.


Each year the USA Property Guide conduct a Cost of Living survey comparing the cost of life in the UK and the USA.

Transport costs in the USA

How you plan on getting around once you arrive in the USA will depend largely on where you’re located. If you’re in a city or urban centre, you’ll find that public transport is usually far-reaching and affordable, and you’ll receive discounts for being of retirement age. If you’re in the middle of the countryside, you’re likely to need your own vehicle. Fuel is considerably cheaper than in the UK, which will result in considerable savings, but car tax will set you back a little bit more. Taxis are widely available in the bigger cities and are an affordable way of getting around.

Fuel is considerably cheaper than in the UK, which will result in considerable savings, but car tax will set you back a little bit more.


ITEM Cost in USA Cost in UK Comparison
Petrol cost per litre £0.30 £1.09 USA is 72% cheaper
Diesel cost per litre £0.37 £1.09 USA is 66% cheaper
One way train ticket in large town £1.90 £2.30 USA is 17% cheaper
Monthly train pass in large town (NYC) £80.34 £60.00 USA is 34% more expensive
Taxi starting tariff £1.72 £3.00 USA is 43% cheaper
Car tax for average five door hatchback £227.59 £130 USA is 75% more expensive


Socialising in the USA

As you’re emigrating in search of a better quality of life, you need to make sure that you can afford the cost of enjoying your favourite activities. The cost of eating and drinking out will vary depending on the establishment and where in the country you’re located. Prices will be higher in major cities, and if you insist on dining at the finest establishments, but if you’re looking to spend less, you’ll be able to find something for all budgets across the US. The cost of gym membership will depend on what facilities you’re seeking. Much like the UK, you’ll be able to find both pricey, state-of-the-art gyms with swimming pools, spas, and a programme of classes, as well as the more reasonably priced alternatives.

ITEM Cost in USA Cost in UK Comparison
Three course set meal £46.55 £50.00 USA is 7% cheaper
Glass of white wine £5.52 £4.50 USA is 23% more expensive
Bottle of beer £2.76 £3.50 USA is 21% cheaper
Cup of coffee £1.72 £2.51 USA is 31% cheaper
Cinema ticket £8.28 £9.00 USA is 8% cheaper
Gym membership (monthly) £55.17 £33.56 USA is 64% more expensive



You’ve come all this way – it’s important to protect your new life in the USA. The first and largest cost for you to consider is healthcare insurance, which is absolutely essential. If you require treatment and you aren’t insured, the bill you will be hit with could put you right back in the hospital! If you’re moving for a job opportunity, it’s worth trying to get your employer to cover health and dental for you. If not, you will need to shop around to secure an insurance package to cover you in the event of illness or injury. To be put in touch with our trusted provider of health insurance, call 020 7898 0549.

Home costs per month

How much you’ll have to pay out in monthly utilities will vary depending on where you’re located and the time of year. You’ll find that utilities on the whole are a little cheaper than in the UK, but essentials like Internet, cable, and a mobile phone contract are pricier. When choosing your utility providers, make sure you shop around to secure the best value deal for your specific needs.

ITEM USA UK Comparison
Basics (Electricity/ gas/ water) – per month £93.10 £144 USA is 35% cheaper
Internet/ cable/landline – per month £131.03 £20.77 USA is 531% more expensive
Mobile phone tariff – per month £68.97 £36.59 USA is 88% more expensive

Finance-Living Costs

The cost of your shopping will depend on where you choose to shop. EQRoy /




The cost of your grocery shopping will depend on where you choose to shop, and as a number of America’s supermarkets are regional, again this will depend on where you’re located. You’ll find that groceries are cheaper outside the major centres, and if you stick to fresh produce that’s in season. While you’re finding your feet and working out where to shop for your favourite items, you could find your shopping bill to be a little higher than usual. You’ll soon get into the swing of things and work out which shops present the best value for your specific needs.

GROCERY ITEM Cost in USA Cost in UK Comparison
Loaf of bread £0.95 £0.89 USA is 7% more expensive
12 medium eggs £0.33 £1.75 USA is 81% cheaper
2 pints of milk £0.27 £1.00 USA is 73% cheaper
1kg of apples £1.03 £2.00 USA is 49% cheaper
1kg bananas £0.69 £0.68 USA is 1% more expensive
500g tomatoes £0.58 £0.69 USA is 16% cheaper
500g cheese £1.15 £2.50 USA is 54% cheaper
500g chicken £1.39 £3.50 USA is 60% cheaper
500g beef £0.92 £4.00 USA is 77% cheaper
500g fresh fish £1.15 £6.75 USA is 83% cheaper
1kg potatoes £1.05 £0.80 USA is 31% more expensive
500g pasta £0.90 £0.59 USA is 53% more expensive
500g cornflakes £0.89 £0.99 USA is 10% cheaper
40g chocolate bar £0.46 £0.60 USA is 23% cheaper
200g instant coffee £1.87 £2.80 USA is 33% cheaper
Teabags (80, own brand) £0.84 £0.75 USA is 12% more expensive
Bottle of red wine £1.85 £6.50 USA is 72% cheaper
Domestic beer £0.76 £4.50 USA is 83% cheaper
1.75l Coca-Cola £0.30 £1.84 USA is 84% cheaper
500ml washing up liquid £0.69 £0.59 USA is 17% more expensive
100ml toothpaste £1.14 £1.50 USA is 24% cheaper
40 wash laundry detergent £2.25 £9.00 USA is 75% cheaper
12 x 400g dog food £0.95 £0.40 USA is 138% more expensive


When transferring finances to the USA to pay for these day-to-day living costs, it’s important to manage the payments effectively to get the most from your savings. Contact Smart Currency Exchange today about how to secure yourself the best rates and save yourself money today.

Notes: Examples made using a GBP/USD rate of 1.45 as of 23rd May 2016. US grocery costs from Walmart, UK grocery costs from Tesco. All other US costs based on personal expat experience; all other UK costs based on research and experience.

USA Property Guide cover

The USA Buying Guide covers every stage of the property buying process, sharing our experience and knowledge to ensure a safe and successful property purchase. The guide will help you to:

  Ask the right questions
  Avoid losing money
  Avoid the legal pitfalls
  Move in successfully

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