Living costs

Information about costs of living in the UK.


Sheffield was recently named as the number one city for lowest cost of living by the TotalJobs Quality of Life Index.  Coupled with the fact that we've also been named as the UK's second fastest-growing city economy, living in Sheffield means it's possible to experience an excellent quality of life without breaking the bank.

Council tax

Every household in England and Wales must pay council tax to cover the cost of public services such as rubbish and recycling collection, street lighting, police and fire services.

Council tax applies to all domestic properties whether they are owned or rented.  How much you pay will depend on the valuation band of the property you are living.  Generally, the bigger the property is, the more tax will be charged.

You must let your local council know that you have moved into a property, and how many people are living there.  Individuals living on their own may be eligible for a single person discount.  

Further information about council tax, including rates, how to pay etc is available on the council website.

Utility bills

In addition to accommodation and council tax, UK residents will also pay for some or all of the following:

  • Water
  • Gas and electricity
  • Household insurance
  • TV licence
  • Broadband

You should check your tenancy agreement to see if any of these bills are included in your rent.

While some bills are fixed nationally, or by property type, others vary depending on supplier and/or volume of usage which you as the customer chose.

Gas and electricity

Many homes in the UK are heated by gas boilers (gas central heating) or by electric radiators. Due to the often unfavourable weather in Great Britain, heating or gas charges can be the largest utility bill after rent.

The rates of electricity and gas can vary between supplier and there are a number of websites that allow you to compare prices.

The best deals are often ones which you pay monthly by direct debit. In most homes, gas and electricity usage is measured through meters.

You will need to read your gas and electricity meters when you move in and give your meter readings to your supplier so they can work out how much you owe.  

Depending on your chosen payment type you will need to provide your meter reading periodically to your supplier so they can bill you for your usage.  Often you can upload gas and electricity meter readings directly to the companies' website if you register with them online.  Alternatively, if you have a smart meter installed your meter readings will be taken automatically.

TV licence

If you use a television in the UK, you are required by law to purchase a television licence to be able to watch it.  The same law applies if you watch television programmes on your computer.  More information can be found at TV licensing.

Telephone lines and broadband

To set up an internet connection in most cases you have to have a working landline telephone connection.  It can take up to two weeks to be connected to a telephone line.  Landline telephones can also be obtained from a number of suppliers including some broadband suppliers and you may be able to have a package from one of them.  

Once connected, you may wish to chose a broadband internet provider and apply for their service.  To see UK providers and their packages visit broadband.  The availability of broadband suppliers is dependent on where you live.


It is advisable to insure your belongings against loss, theft, accidental damage and fire.  If you are renting a property or buying a property with a mortgage, it is likely that a condition of the lease/mortgage is that you have to have both building and/or house contents insurance.  It is therefore advisable to make a list of everything you bring to the UK for such insurance purposes.

Insurance policies vary considerably and it is often worth obtaining several quotes and comparing prices before purchasing one.  Price comparison websites are available such as and

Mobile phones

There are two main types of mobile phone packages:

  • 'pay as you go' packages where you buy a new phone or a new SIM card to use in your existing phone, and then top up your credit when necessary.  You may need to get your phone unlocked so it can make and receive calls in the UK.
  • Monthly contract packages where you pay a fixed amount which allows you to make calls, send texts and download data to an agreed monthly limit.  You will need to provide proof your residential address in the UK and bank details to set up payments.  

You can purchase mobile phones from high street shops on arrival in the UK.  An internet search of mobile phone shops in Sheffield will bring up local mobile phone shops. Internet websites will be able to provide further information about tariffs and deals available.

Water rates

There are two ways that you can be charged for your water supply depending on whether your property is metered or unmetered.  

If you have a water meter, you will only pay for the units of water you actually use and readings are taken from your meter every 6 months.  You will also pay a standing charge which is usually a fixed amount each year.

If you do not have a meter you will pay a set rate for your water based on the rateable value (RV) of your home in England and Wales.  These rates also include a standing charge.

If you are renting a property the landlord is normally responsible for paying the water.


A remarkable place to work

We're one of the UK's best not-for-profit places to work, according to the Sunday Times' ranking of Britain’s happiest and most motivated workforces.

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.