London vs New York – Which is the best city to rent in?

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If you live in a city, chances are you spend a fair bit of time complaining about the cost of living, particularly if you live in London or New York.

Both regularly feature on lists of the world’s most expensive cities for good reason. Yet both are also amongst the most creative, vibrant, diverse cities in the world.

We decided to ask flatmates in London and NYC how they live. By looking at average rents, cost of living, who people live with and how they commute, we’ve been able to build up a fascinating head to head picture of how London and New York really compare.

Let’s dive in and look at the typical flatmate in each city….

The Typical Flatmate – UK


So, the average Londoner earns less, is slightly younger and is more likely to have several flatmates. But how far does her money go? Let’s look at rents.


Renting & Affordability – UK


London is definitely cheaper than New York when it comes to rent, which might come as a surprise to a few Londoners. You’re also more likely to get some outside space for your money.

Those annual savings make it pretty clear that living with flatmates is way cheaper than renting on your own too!

Next we looked at the cost of living…


Cost of living – UK


Turns out that, while Londoners earn less, they also need to spend a lot less on bills and food.

Finally, the dreaded commute. How do Londoners get around and how long do we spend commuting compared to New Yorkers?


Getting Around – UK


The typical Londoner has a longer commute than her New York counterpart. Only one in three Londoners has a commute of less than 30 minutes, compared to half of New Yorkers. Looks like Londoners are more healthy though, as we’re more likely to use our commute to exercise (and we’re less likely to hop in a cab!)

So, there you have it. Which city wins? The truth is that both London and New York are incredible places to live, but the experience is a little different – Londoners have cheaper rents, bills and general cost of living, but those higher salaries mean New Yorkers tend to have more money left at the end of the month.

So, which would you choose?


How about living in London (or anywhere) rent free?

If you don’t already, make sure you’re entering SpareRoom’s Live Rent Free competition. Every month we give away a month’s rent to one lucky flatsharer. If you don’t enter, it’s not going to be you, is it?

17 thoughts on “London vs New York – Which is the best city to rent in?

  1. I love the comparison. I have been thinking of what factors i need to consider before opting to move to Newyork. This definitely has given me a sense of direction to start with. Thank you Spare room

  2. Everything is very expensive and it’s very difficult to get ends meet
    Transportation is very expensive and very bad especially those living in one bus route services, accommodation very expensive as well . Very difficult to live in London.

  3. I would definitely live in London. The two cities are very fast paced but last time I was in NY, OMG it made London road and foot traffic look like a walk in the park.

  4. Hi there I really liked the survey as I might be thinking to relocate to USA but this survey could be very helpful to all people who are little bit confused to make a final decision to search a better living prospects across not only between these critics but across the world so i would like more surveys like this amongst other world dynamic cities .

  5. I have lived in both these cities. In my experience a house/flat in new york were in better condition. In London lots of houses don’t even have a living room. With loft conversions in London, this can lead to at least eight residents, it’s too many.
    The quality in London is going down all the time.

  6. Interesting article
    What are the top 20 areas within the 5 borroughs of new York which are the most popular to rent?

  7. I never lived in New York, but I lived in San Francisco which is also considered a high rent city. It was a while ago and I paid about half my salary on a shared flat. BUT the flat was enormous. So much bigger [I had two rooms and private bathroom] than anything I ever encountered in London or the UK for that matter. The rooms I was offered in the UK are expensive [and not only in London] and nothing short of depressing! Moving from Bristol to London my biggest problem was to rent something that wasn’t furnished. I have been to flats so stuffed with the most unsuitable furniture you could hardly walk. Every small room that can possibly fit a double bed is per definition a ‘double room’ even it you do not have any floor space left or can’t open the door properly. I just looked at a house that hasn’t been decorated in the last 20 years, possibly longer! Stained carpets, wall paper coming off, mould in the bathroom – I would be ashamed to even show a place like this! I come from Zurich, not exactly famous for being on the cheap side but the flats there at least are decent size [you pay per square meter] clean and fully functional! I am tired of landlords who think they are doing me a favour taking loads of money from me for sub standard housing and on top of that denying me that little bit that makes the room/flat my own.

  8. Thanks for that! I did wonder how London compares with NYC or other big cities. It was very interesting.

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