Living in UK vs US: A Tight Race

Living in UK vs US: A Tight Race

The US and UK are two popular destinations for expats and digital nomads. Both of the countries provide a remarkable quality of life. If you’re in between and don’t know which to choose, this article will help you.

The weather, food, transportation, and culture are some of the factors. The US or the UK, It all depends on which country you’ll find more captivating and in which city you’ll be living.

Let’s delve into the details!

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

Do you wonder about the advantages of living in the UK and the US? If so, let’s take a look at them and make a comparison.

Pros and Cons of Living in the UK

Below, you’ll discover the pros and cons of living in the UK.

Pros of Living in the UK

  • Healthcare is free and is provided by the National Health Service (NHS)
  • A rich history and cultural diversity
  • Smaller land mass and easy access to other European countries
  • More vacation time and longer maternity/paternity leave
  • Higher emphasis on work-life balance
  • Access to world-renowned universities and educational institutions
  • Comprehensive public transportation systems in major cities
  • Low crime rates in many areas
  • Stronger social safety net for those in need

Cons of Living in the UK

  • High cost of living, particularly in London and other major cities
  • Shorter work hours may lead to lower earning potential
  • Weather can be damp and gloomy for much of the year
  • Limited job opportunities in certain industries or fields
  • Crowded and congested urban areas in some cities
  • High taxes, especially for higher earners

Pros and Cons of Living in the US

Here, you can explore the pros and cons of living in the US.

Pros of Living in the US

  • Higher earning potential, particularly in certain industries
  • Sunny weather in many areas
  • Numerous job opportunities in different industries
  • More affordable cost of living in many regions
  • Diverse geography and landscapes, from beaches to mountains to deserts
  • Strong entrepreneurial culture and opportunities for innovation
  • Lower taxes, particularly for lower earners

Cons of Living in the US

  • The expensive and often inaccessible healthcare system
  • Limited vacation time and often short maternity/paternity leave
  • High emphasis on work and long work hours
  • Limited public transportation in many regions
  • High crime rates in some areas
  • High levels of economic and social inequality
  • Less comprehensive social safety net for those in need

Cost of Living in the US vs UK

In general, the cost of living in the US is slightly lower than in the UK. However, it depends on the city you live in. Take New York and San Francisco, for instance. These cities have expensive costs of living. On the other hand, smaller cities such as Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Indianapolis, Indiana offer a more affordable alternative.

Housing is one of the biggest expenses in both countries. 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). However, utilities are generally cheaper in 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.

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 September 2021:





$1,213/month for a 1 bedroom apartment outside city center (average across major cities)

£1,132/month for a 1 bedroom apartment outside city center (average across major cities)


$153/month (average across major cities)

£157/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)


$68/month for a monthly pass (average across major cities)

£66/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 healthcare systems in the UK and the USA vary in terms of life standards. In the UK, the National Health Service (NHS) offers free healthcare to all residents. Meanwhile, most people in the United States have private health insurance. In the UK, education is primarily free, while in the USA, there are both private and public education options that come with tuition fees.

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 bustling cities like London, is higher. 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.

In the United States, the cost of housing can vary depending on the location. It’s not uncommon 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.


Education systems in the UK and the US aren’t the same. The four-stage education system in the UK follows a national curriculum focusing on core subjects. Also, 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.


Public transportation in the UK is more widely used than in the US. 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. Both countries face transportation challenges, such as road congestion in the UK and long travel distances in the US. The transportation options in each country greatly impact the quality of life and convenience.


The UK and the USA have different healthcare systems. The UK has a publicly funded NHS, which is free for residents. The US has a predominantly private healthcare system, and healthcare is paid for by insurance. The NHS provides free healthcare to all but can have long waiting times and limited resources. In the US, healthcare quality can be high; however, it can be costly.

Wages & Earnings

The US generally has higher salaries than the UK, depending on the industry and job type. In the UK, the average salary is around £29,600 per year. The average salary in the US is around $56,000 per year. Tipping is more common in the US and can significantly boost earnings for service workers. The cost of living can also be higher in the US, especially in major cities.


The UK is famous for its cultural attractions like Big Ben, the Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace. It also has world-class museums, galleries, and theaters. The UK has a vibrant music scene with popular festivals like Glastonbury.

The US is known for its entertainment industry, with Hollywood movies and Broadway’s hit musicals. It also has significant sports events like the Super Bowl and the World Series.

Culture and Lifestyle

British culture has a long and rich history. The British people have a strong sense of tradition and take pride in their history. Americans see the British as reserved and polite, while Americans tend to be more outgoing. British people have a dry sense of humor and love sarcasm. British life focuses on socializing, while Americans prioritize work and family.

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.

Working in the USA vs the UK

The work culture and employment laws in the USA and the UK are different. 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.

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The UK vs the US: The Final Round

The UK has a rich cultural history, quality healthcare and education, and an extensive public transportation system. The US offers a vibrant entertainment scene, higher wages, and a larger variety of job opportunities.

Social class and humor differ between the two countries, with the UK having a more structured class system and a dry sense of humor, while the USA values individuality and a more direct style of humor. The cost of living and taxation also vary.

Ultimately, the decision depends on personal preferences and priorities. Both countries offer diverse experiences and opportunities for expats.

Frequently Asked Questions


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

Some notable differences include the healthcare system, education system, transportation, housing, and entertainment. For instance, the UK provides universal healthcare while the US operates a predominantly private system. The UK's education system is standardized, whereas the US education system varies by state. Public transportation is more prevalent in the UK, whereas the car is more of a necessity in the US. Housing is generally more affordable in the US, but the quality may vary. Lastly, the entertainment industry and popular culture have distinct differences between the two countries.

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

The answer to this question depends on personal preferences, lifestyle, and priorities. Both countries have their unique advantages and disadvantages, such as quality of life, cost of living, healthcare, education, transportation, and entertainment. Some people may prefer living in the UK due to its free healthcare system, high-quality education, and cultural diversity, while others may prefer the USA for its higher wages, warmer weather, and entrepreneurial spirit. 

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

The healthcare system in the UK is publicly funded and provides free medical care to all residents regardless of their income or insurance status. The National Health Service (NHS) is the primary healthcare provider, and while there may be some waiting times for non-urgent treatments, the system generally provides high-quality care. In contrast, the healthcare system in the USA is primarily privately funded, and access to medical care is often dependent on insurance coverage. This can result in significant out-of-pocket costs for individuals, and those without insurance may struggle to access medical care altogether. While the US healthcare system is often viewed as having some of the most advanced medical technology and treatment options, it also has some of the highest costs in the world.

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

The British tend to have a more reserved and polite demeanor, while Americans are often more outgoing and informal. British humor is known for being dry and sarcastic, while American humor tends to be more upbeat and sometimes exaggerated. The class system is also more pronounced in the UK, whereas the US is more egalitarian. Additionally, there are differences in cuisine, sports, and entertainment preferences.

What are the disadvantages of living in the UK?

One major issue is the high cost of living, especially in London and other major UK cities. The weather can also be a drawback, as it can be cold, rainy, and dreary for long periods. Another potential disadvantage is the relatively high taxes used to fund the country's public services such as healthcare and education. Additionally, some expats may struggle with the UK's more reserved and formal social norms, which can make it difficult to make friends and build social connections. Finally, the UK's political landscape can be uncertain and volatile at times, which may make some people uneasy about the future.

Is the UK economy better than the USA?

It's difficult to say whether the UK economy is better than the US economy, as both countries have their own strengths and weaknesses. In terms of GDP, the US has a higher overall GDP than the UK, but the UK has a stronger service sector and a more diverse economy. The UK also has a more extensive social welfare system than the US, which provides a safety net for its citizens. However, the cost of living in the UK can be quite high, and there are concerns about the impact of Brexit on the economy. 

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 various health indicators, the UK performs better than the US in some aspects of healthcare, but worse in others. For example, the UK has a higher life expectancy and lower rates of obesity and infant mortality compared to the US. Additionally, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) provides free or low-cost healthcare to all residents as well as the UK citizens, while the US relies heavily on a private healthcare system which comes with high medical bills. However, the UK has higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and lower cancer survival rates compared to the US.

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

The answer to this question can vary depending on various factors such as the industry, job type, location, and experience. However, in general, wages and salaries tend to be higher in the US than in the UK. According to data from the OECD, the US has a higher average wage than the UK. However, it's important to note that the cost of living in the US is generally higher than in the UK, so the higher wages may not necessarily translate to a higher standard of living. Additionally, both countries have their own unique benefits and drawbacks when it comes to working and earning a living, so it's important to consider all factors when comparing the two.

Is the UK safer than the USA?

The UK has a lower overall crime rate than the US, but the US has a lower rate of certain types of crime, such as property crime. In terms of violent crime, the US has a higher rate than the UK. However, it is important to note that crime rates can vary widely depending on the region and city. Additionally, factors such as poverty, drug use, and access to firearms can affect crime rates in both countries.

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