Do Brits really get a bad deal compared to the rest of the world? Towards the end of the 1990s, red-top tabloids relished highlighting any disparity between Blighty and other countries. The phrase became so commonplace over time that it was even taken on as the name of a BBC consumer affairs show. But is it really fair to feel like we’re living in ‘rip-off Britain’ and, if so, is this still the case today?

Comparing the cost of the world

New research from online forex trading platform IG helps us get to the bottom of this. As part of a ‘Cost of the World’ study, it found:

  • People in the UK typically spend more of their income on mortgage payments compared to the US — with 60% of their pay packet going on bricks and mortar compared to 26% across the Pond. However, Brits’ payments are more in line with countries such as Japan (66%), Italy (61%), Australia (55%) and Spain (54%), where a similar proportion of their pay packets goes on mortgages – and interest rates tend to be lower than in the US, meaning that the cost of borrowing is at least lower.
  • Monthly take home pay is £1,780 in the UK, which is almost £600 less than Australia, where take home pay is highest. People in America, Singapore, UAE and Japan earn more than Brits — but only Japanese people pay higher utility bills.
  • People in the UK pay about 5.8% more for cars than Americans and about twice as much for their fuel. Cars cost about £5,000 more than they do in the UAE — and fuel is three times as much. Only Italians pay more for their petrol and only people in Singapore pay more for their vehicles.
  • At £3.04 for the average cup of coffee, people in the UK pay almost 60p more a cup than Americans and nearly twice as much as Spaniards. The cost does lag behind the UAE, however, where the average cup is £4.47.
  • At £10 a ticket, people in the UK pay about £3 less than Japanese cinemagoers. Prices are broadly in line with the US and Australia — but are about double the cost of watching a film in Brazil and South Africa.
  • The cost of a meal is typically 60% higher in the UK than Japan — but at £45 is about the same as in Italy and Australia.

Are we really getting ripped off?

Does that all add up to a rip-off? While Brits don’t come top — or bottom — for any of the prices investigated by IG, there are clearly areas where the costs of living on this Sceptred Isle compare pretty unfavourably to other parts of the globe. Whether it’s fuel, coffee, food or houses — prices in the UK are far from the cheapest.