Cost of living

I had a couple of friends who wanted to know what the cost of living in LA is like compared to London so I thought I’d write something up.

Rent

I currently pay around $1200 (£730)  per month. Santa Monica is expensive, probably have to share a house though. For the same price, you can probably get a 2 bedroom place in Mar Vista, but that neighbourhood seemed a bit dodgy to me.

Travel

There are buses here that are fairly well connected locally. Costs range from $1 to $1.50, which is by far cheaper than a single fare in London.

Petrol

Petrol is around $3.99 per gallon, which is almost twice as cheap compared to the UK.

Shopping

Each city in LA have their own sales tax, which is roughly 10% to be added to the purchase. This confused me at first, because all the prices listed whenever you buy something have no sales tax included.

Eating out

This is something I don’t do often. Depending on type of food / restaurant etc, cost will vary. Sushi is expensive here, other stuff isn’t too bad. They are more generous with their portions, and better value for money, so if you don’t finish your food, you can always take it home and have it the next day.

Car rental

You really need one here to get about. Buses will take a lifetime to get you to places. Trust me on that. London wins on this! Renting cars are actually cheaper here, probably around half the price. The last time I rented a car in the UK for a day was around £60. Over here, I rented a Ford Mustang (NOT the powerful classic one) for $43 (£26) per day.

Utility bills

Gas and electricity is far cheaper than the UK, mainly because the weather is pretty good all year around. I think my average gas bill per month is around $40 in winter and $15 in summer.

Electricity is around $65 over two months on average.

Internet can be expensive here, I pay around $80 (£50) per month for broadband, compared to £15 in the UK. In some cases water is included in your rent, like mine, but I can’t imagine that to be too expensive.

Mobile phones

You definitely need one of these. I use prepaid and top up $30 a month. Contracts are expensive and I wouldn’t touch them.

Healthcare

Now, if you’ve read some of my previous write ups on my health related issues here, you’ll know this is expensive here. You’ll definitely need to put money aside for this. One rule, try not to be ill.

You can’t get healthcare on your own, you’ll usually get it with your employer, make sure you check what’s covered, i.e. health, vision, and dental, most are separate. You’ll be given a choice in some cases to pick PPO or HMO coverage. I use PPO (Preffered), but a little more expensive, but you get to pick which doctor / dentist etc to go to. You pay an amount, prob less than $40 a month which is deducted from your salary. There are lots of health insurance companies out here, and they can vary depending on employer. You won’t get to pick which company by the way.

Taxi
Back in London, I never really used taxis, for the reason they’re so expensive. I think they might be a little bit cheaper here, but not entirely sure. I frequently get a taxi here from Downtown Santa Monica back home only because buses don’t run late here. It cost me on average around $15 for a 3 mile journey. Airport trips are between $35 to $40.

Tax
I won’t give away how much income tax I pay, but you also have to pay tow more taxes which are deducted from your salary every two weeks. These include, federal and state tax. Both income related too. Info on income tax can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_tax_in_the_United_States#Year_2011_income_brackets_and_tax_rates

There is no council tax to pay here which is a relief, and no TV license fee too.

Beer
Price can vary here depending if you’re in a pub or some flashy bar. I think you spend more out here, even before you add a tip.

Tipping
Its customary to tip in the US and widely seen here compared to the UK. Back in the UK, you can walk away without tipping, but over here you’ll be given a mouthful of abuse if you don’t tip, especially taxi drivers. Always remember to tip here, even when you buy a drink, $1 tip.

My rule is 10% minimum, 15% most of the time and 20% only if you’ve had exceptional service.

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