Living in UK vs US: A Tight Race

Living in UK vs US: A Tight Race

Expats and digital nomads have the US and UK on their popular destinations list most of the time. The reason is that both countries provide a significant quality of life. If you feel in between and don’t know which country to choose, this article is here to help you.

From weather to food or transportation to culture, we’ll explore some of the factors to live in the UK or in the US. Depending on which country you’ll find more captivating, you can also imagine which city you’ll be living in.

So, are you ready to discover more?

Living in the UK vs. Living in the USA: Pros and Cons

When we compare two different countries, the circumstances, and the lifestyle, it’s common sense to consider the pros and cons. So, let’s take a look at them to make a reasonable comparison between the UK and the US. See which country has the best living advantages for you.

Pros and Cons of Living in the UK

First, we’ll discover the pros and cons of living in the UK below.

Pros of Living in the UK

  • Healthcare in the UK is free, and the National Health Service (NHS) provides it
  • The country has a rich history to learn and offers cultural diversity.
  • With the advantage of a smaller land mass, it’s easier to access other European countries
  • When it comes to job benefits, you have vacation time and longer maternity/paternity leave
  • There’s quite a higher emphasis on work-life balance
  • The quality of education is proven with access to world-renowned universities and educational institutions
  • It makes it easier to commute through the comprehensive public transportation systems in major cities
  • In many areas in the UK, the crime rates seem low
  • A stronger social safety net is available for those in need

Cons of Living in the UK

  • The cost of living is considered high, particularly in London and other major cities
  • Shorter work hours may come with a disadvantage, leading to lower earning potential
  • Weather can be damp and gloomy for much of the year
  • Job seekers may face limited job opportunities in certain industries or fields
  • It can be overwhelming to live in crowded and congested urban areas in some cities
  • High taxes, especially for higher earners can be financially unsettling

Pros and Cons of Living in the US

Now, let’s see what we’ll find out about the pros and cons of living in the US.

Pros of Living in the US

  • There’s a higher earning potential in the US, especially in certain industries
  • You can find sunny weather in many areas
  • The opportunity of finding numerous job opportunities in different industries is highly possible
  • There are more affordable cost of living in many regions
  • The US has a diverse geography and landscapes, from beaches to mountains to deserts
  • The country is full of strong entrepreneurial culture and opportunities for innovation
  • Lower taxes make the country appealing as well, particularly for lower earners

Cons of Living in the US

  • The healthcare system is expensive and often inaccessible to many
  • Jobs offer limited vacation time and often short maternity/paternity leave
  • The emphasis on work is high, and working hours are long
  • In many regions, public transportation is a limited option
  • Some areas are not safe enough, with high crime rates
  • You will find high levels of economic and social inequality
  • The social safety net doesn’t cover everyone in need, as it’s less comprehensive

Cost of Living in the US vs UK

If we talk about in general, we can say that the cost of living in the US is slightly lower than in the UK. However, the city you live in changes the result. For instance, let’s take New York and San Francisco. These cities are known for their high cost of living. On the other hand, we can’t assume the same for smaller cities such as Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Indianapolis, Indiana since they offer a more affordable alternative.

In both the US and UK, housing is one of the biggest expenses when it comes to budget planning. In the US, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in a city center is around $1,100-3900 per month. In the UK, it’s between £550-2000 (around $650-2500). The monthly budget generally includes the utilities, which are in general more expensive in the UK compared to the US.


Food and dining out are crucial when budgeting. Dining out in the US is generally more affordable compared to the UK, while grocery prices can be higher. Transportation expenses are comparable in both countries. However, car ownership is more widespread in the US due to limited public transportation.

In the end, how much it costs to live will differ based on your lifestyle choices. Whether you prefer living in the US or in the UK, you’ll find plenty of opportunities. You may end up in one of the best countries to live in.

Here’s a table showing estimated costs of living in the UK and the US, based on Numbeo’s cost of living data as of April 2024:





$1,462 /month for a 1 bedroom apartment outside city center (average across major cities)

£870/month for a 1 bedroom apartment outside city center (average across major cities)


$328/month (average across major cities)

£320/month (average across major cities)


$349/month for groceries for one person (average across major cities)

£271/month for groceries for one person (average across major cities)


$72/month for a monthly pass (average across major cities)

£67/month for a monthly pass (average across major cities)


$484/month for a mid-range private health insurance plan (family of 4)

Free under the National Health Service (NHS)


$26,820/year for tuition and fees for public universities (out-of-state) or $54,880/year for private universities

Free or heavily subsidized for UK citizens and residents


23.8% average effective tax rate for single filers with no dependents earning $50,000-$75,000/year (federal, state, and FICA taxes combined)

20% income tax rate for those earning £12,571-£50,270/year (excluding National Insurance)

Quality of Life in the UK vs USA

The variation between the healthcare systems in the UK and the USA change in terms of life standards. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK offers free healthare to all residents in the country. Meanwhile, in the United States, most people have private health insurance. When it comes to education, it is free in the UK while there are both private and public education options with tuition fees the he US.

The cost of housing in the UK is generally high, whereas in the USA, it can vary depending on the location. When it comes to crime rates, the UK has a comparatively lower rate than the USA, which can differ significantly based on location. The UK generally offers a more favorable work-life balance compared to the USA, as work hours tend to be shorter and vacation time more generous.

The UK is more ethically diverse, whereas the USA is more racially diverse. Both countries provide various cultural and outdoor activities.

Let’s see the different contributors to the high quality of life in the UK and the US in the chart below:




Healthcare system

National Health Service (NHS)

Private health insurance

Education system

Free public education

Private and public education with tuition fees

Housing cost


Varies by location

Crime rate


Varies by location

Work-life balance


Long work hours and limited vacation time


More ethnically diverse

More racially diverse

Cultural activities

Rich and varied


Outdoor activities

Varied and scenic

Varied and scenic


The cost of housing in the UK, especially in big cities like London, it is higher. It’s an important factor to consider as it’s one of the most important expenses when you’re living in another country as a digital nomad or expat. In the UK, housing options range from quaint cottages to modern flats and everything in between. In addition, homes in the UK are smaller in size compared to the US.

It’s no surprise that In the United States, the cost of housing can vary depending on the location. What’s more, It’s very common for urban areas to come with a higher price tag. On the other hand, suburbs and rural areas are more budget-friendly. In contrast to the UK, American homes have more space, which creates a big difference for some people, especially for big families who need a bigger space with more rooms included.


Let’s talk about the education systems in the UK and the US, which aren’t the same at all. The four-stage education system in the UK follows a national curriculum focusing on core subjects. Furthermore, students typically take national exams around the ages of 16 and 18.

The US has three stages of education, and each state has its own curriculum. Practical skills and critical thinking have a higher importance in the US. There’s a range of standardized tests, though there’s less emphasis on high-stakes exams.

Higher education students in the UK usually study a single subject at the university. Meanwhile, the US places a stronger emphasis on liberal arts education.


As we mentioned before, public transportation in the UK is more widely used than in the US, like in many European countries. The UK has well-connected cities with trains, buses, and the London Underground. However, it can be limited to the suburbs.

In the US, car ownership is prevalent, even in urban areas, and public transportation options are often less developed. These don’t make one or another advantageous, so both countries face transportation challenges, such as road congestion in the UK and long travel distances in the US. 


The UK and the USA have different healthcare systems. The UK has a publicly funded NHS, which is free for residents. This brings the UK the advantage when we’re talking about healthcare. The US has a predominantly private healthcare system, and healthcare is paid for by insurance. Seemingly, the healthcare system in the US is not budget-friendly. When in the UK, the NHS provides free healthcare to all but can have long waiting times and limited resources. Returning back to the US part of the healthcare system, we can add that quality can be high; however, it can be costly.

Wages & Earnings

In this comparison, we underlined the work and work-life balance and fewer working hours in the UK’s working system. However, we also said that the salaries are according to the working hours, so for some, it may not be an advantageous situation. In this case, the US offers a more beneficial outcome with higher salaries than the UK. It’s not the same in every industry and job type, though. In the UK, the average salary is around £29,600 per year. The average salary in the US is around $56,000 per year.  The US is also known for the tipping culture, boosting earnings for service workers. With higher salaries, the cost of living in major cities in the US is also higher.


When in the UK, some of the popular cultural attractions welcome you, like Big Ben, the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. But the culture scene doesn’t end up there. You have plenty options of for world-class museums, galleries, and famous theaters. Don’t forget about the music events and popular music festivals like Glastonbury. 

The entertainment industry in the US is influential in many countries. Hollywood movies and Broadway hit musicals are among them. There are also significant sports events like the Super Bowl and the World Series. 

Culture and Lifestyle

The British culture ahs a long and rich history, with its strong sense of tradition and the pride in their history. How do Americans see the British? They consider the people of the UK as reserved and polite. On their side, Americans seem to tend to be more outgoing. If you’re into British comedy, you might have experienced the dry sense of humor and sarcasm, which you can also discover in daily conversations. British life’s focus is more on socializing, while in the US, the prioritization of work and family is more seen.

The British love football, while Americans focus on American football, basketball, and baseball. UK restaurants offer traditional pub fare, while US restaurants offer a wide range of cuisines.

The British love their football. Americans, on the other hand, are more interested in American football, basketball, or baseball. Pub fare is more seen in UK restaurants. In the US, there is a wide range of cuisines.

Working in the USA vs the UK

As both countries have different regulations and laws, the work culture and employment laws are not the same as well. In the USA, the work culture is fast-paced and focused on productivity. In contrast, the UK has a more laid-back work culture.

Salaries are generally higher in the USA, but healthcare benefits and vacation time are limited. In the UK, salaries may be lower, but employees have access to convenient healthcare and more vacation time.

Taxes in the UK vs the USA

According to, taxes in the UK are generally higher than in the USA. The basic rate of income tax is currently 20%, but can go up to 45% for higher earners. National Insurance contributions are also required for employees and employers. Other taxes in the UK include council tax, value-added tax (VAT), and capital gains tax.

In the USA, federal income tax rates range from 10% to 37%, depending on income level and marital status. State taxes also apply, with rates varying by state. Social Security and Medicare taxes are deducted from employee paychecks.

It is important to note that there are tax treaties between the UK and the USA. The aim is to prevent double taxation. Additionally, tax laws and regulations in both countries are subject to change. So it’s better to make sure to check up-to-date information.

Expat Life in the US vs the UK

If you are considering moving to either the US or the UK, your personal circumstances matter.

The UK is known for its rich history, cultural diversity, and high-quality healthcare system. However, housing tends to be smaller and more expensive. Education places a greater emphasis on standardized testing. The UK has a publicly funded healthcare system and a more extensive public transportation system.

On the other hand, the US offers vast opportunities for career growth and a diverse range of entertainment options. Housing tends to be larger and more affordable. Education has a more flexible approach. The US promotes the use of a private healthcare system and relies more heavily on cars for transportation.

Wages and earnings in the US are generally higher, but the cost of living is also higher. The UK has a more traditional cultural and artistic landscape, while the US offers modern entertainment options. Working conditions can vary, with the UK offering more vacation time and a balanced work-life balance, while the US has a more competitive job market and longer working hours.

Taxes differ between the two countries, with the UK having a higher tax rate but also offering a wider range of social welfare programs. The US has a lower tax rate, but healthcare costs and other expenses may offset those savings.

Related Articles

The UK vs the US: The Final Round

In this article, we tried to focus on both the lifestyle in the UK and the US, trying to understand various factors that make it appealing to live in one country. We saw the characteristics of both countries. For instance UK has a rich cultural history where healthcare and education a high quality, and expensive public transportation makes daily life easier. We also explored how the US offers a popular entertainment scene, higher wages, and more job opportunities with an entrepreneurial mindset.

What we explored in this article hopefully will draw a picture of what it’ll look like to live in any of the two countries. So you have your options to decide on what’s good for an expat like you!

Frequently Asked Questions


What are some differences between living in the UK vs the USA?

The healthcare system, education system, transportation, housing, and entertainment are some of the differences. For example, the UK provides universal healthcare. However, the US mostly operates a private system. The UK's education system can be called standardized, whereas the US education system changes from state to state. Public transportation is more prevalent in the UK. The car is more of a necessity in the US. Housing is generally more affordable in the US. Also, the two countries' entertainment industry and popular culture have distinct differences.

Is it better to live in the UK than in the USA?

Both countries offer distinct advantages and disadvantages, including quality of life, cost of living, healthcare, education, transportation, and entertainment. Some people prefer to live in the UK because of its free healthcare system, high-quality education, and culture. However, some see the advantages of the United States because of its better wages, warmer weather, and entrepreneurial spirit. 

How does the healthcare system in the UK differ from that in the USA?

The UK's healthcare system is publicly funded and offers free medical care to all people, regardless of income or insurance status.  In contrast, the healthcare system in the United States is mostly privately funded, and access to medical care can often be contingent on insurance coverage. Individuals may face high out-of-pocket expenses as a result of this.  On the other hand, the United States' healthcare system is often regarded as having some of the most advanced medical technology and treatment options.

What are some cultural differences between the UK and the USA?

The British tend to be more quiet and courteous, whereas Americans are more extroverted and informal. British humor is known for being dry and sardonic. American comedy, on the other hand, is more lively and occasionally overdone. 

What are the disadvantages of living in the UK?

One important concern is the high expense of living, particularly in London and other large British cities. The weather can also be a hindrance, as it can be chilly, rainy, and depressing for extended periods. Another potential disadvantage is the comparatively high taxes levied to fund the country's public services, such as healthcare and education. Furthermore, some expats may struggle with the UK's more quiet and formal social customs, making it difficult to meet acquaintances and establish social relationships. Finally, the UK's political scene can be unpredictable and volatile at times.

Is the UK economy better than the USA?

In terms of GDP, the United States has a bigger total GDP than the United Kingdom, although the latter has a stronger service sector and more diverse economy. The UK also has a larger social welfare system than the United States. It serves as a safety net for its residents. However, living costs in the UK can be fairly high.

Why do people move from the UK to the USA?

There are quite a few reasons, including pursuing better career opportunities, education, or a higher standard of living. The USA is known for offering high-paying jobs and advanced career growth in various industries such as technology, finance, and entertainment. The American education system is also highly regarded, attracting international students to pursue their studies in the country. Additionally, the USA offers diverse cultural experiences and a vast array of natural attractions, making it a popular destination for many. The UK and the USA also have a special relationship, with many people moving between the two for work or personal reasons.

Is the UK healthier than the US?

According to several health indicators, the United Kingdom exceeds the United States in some areas of healthcare while falling behind in others. For example, the United Kingdom has a longer life expectancy and lower rates of obesity and infant mortality than the United States. Furthermore, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) provides free or low-cost healthcare to all residents, including UK citizens, whereas the US relies mainly on a private healthcare system with expensive medical expenditures. However, the UK has higher rates of alcohol-related mortality and lower cancer survival rates than the US.

Do you get paid more in the UK or the US?

Wages and earnings are, on average,  higher in the United States than in the United Kingdom. According to OECD data, the US has a higher average wage than the United Kingdom. However, it's worth noting that the cost of living in the United States is often higher than in the United Kingdom. 

Is the UK safer than the USA?

Although the UK has a lower total crime rate than the United States, the latter has a lower rate of some categories of crime, such as property crime. In terms of violent crime, the US has higher rates than the United Kingdom. However, it is crucial to realize that crime rates vary greatly by location and city. 

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