Household bills: the great North-South divide

How much does where you live affect the cost of running your home?

According to research by MoneySuperMarket, households in the south east of England have to fork out an extra £3,000 a year to cover household bills compared to their northern counterparts.

It’s especially grim down south for those living in London, with average annual household bills currently standing at an eye-watering £11,536. Unsurprisingly, the capital is the most expensive place to live in the UK, closely followed by the south east region, where annual household bills come in at £11,317.

By contrast, the north of England and south Wales are the cheapest places to live, with the average annual bill for running a home in these locations costing £8,521 and £8,540 respectively.

Cheshire gap

Cheshire residents, however, even though they’re securely located in the north west of England, buck the trend and don’t enjoy relatively low living costs, with average household bills costing £10,031 a year.

Clare Francis, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket said: “Even though it comes as no surprise that London is the most expensive area in the UK to live, what is perhaps surprising is the marked differences in the bills you pay depending on whereabouts in the country you live.

“With the exception of Cheshire, anyone living or looking to move anywhere south of the Midlands will find they are being hit hardest when it comes to essential bills.”

Costs breakdown

As might be expected, mortgages are the biggest monthly expenses for most of us.

London-dwellers pay the most, with the average home-loan costing £7,164 a year. In south Wales, however, average annual mortgage costs are £4,908, while in the north they are just £4,452.

When it comes to council tax, the second biggest monthly bill for most households, those in Yorkshire pay the most each year, at an average of £2,548, followed by households in Cheshire and the south east, which pay on average £2,516 and £2,492 respectively.

By contrast, households in Scotland typically pay just £1,421 a year for their council tax – a huge £1,253 a year less than in the south of England.

Water bills are highest for those in the south west, where average annual bills total a hefty £811, almost double the £489 UK average.

However, those in north Scotland suffer most when it comes to energy costs, with average annual gas and electricity bills burning a £1,383 hole in their pockets.

Households in the east Midlands pay least for their energy, with average bills of £1,297, £47 less than the national average of £1,344 a year.

Other running costs

As well as water, energy, mortgage and council tax bills, MoneySuperMarket analysed broadband and insurance costs to work out the overall cost of running a home.

Households in Yorkshire pay the most for their broadband, with an average annual bill of £197.16, while those in the south pay £45 a year less than this at £152.28. The average amount paid by households across all locations for their broadband is £169.95.



When it comes to insurance, premiums for home cover typically range from £120 to £280 a year depending on where you live.
 
People living in the capital have to pay the most, while premiums surprisingly are lowest in the south east of England.

Households in north Wales and Liverpool are also among those who have to pay high premiums, with annual insurance bills costing £245 on average.  

How to reduce household bills

Having to pay thousands each year for essential living costs is galling for everyone, regardless of where you live. However, there are things you can do to ensure you don’t end up paying more than you need to.

MoneySuperMarket’s Home Bill Checker can help you work out how much you should be paying for your home insurance, energy and broadband by using postcode data to analyse average neighbourhood bills.

If, for example, you discover that households in your area typically pay £150 for their home insurance and you are paying £200, you should make sure you switch insurers next time your policy is up for renewal.

You can refine quotes further by entering how many rooms you have, your home contents value and your age. The average saving using the Home Bill Checker is a massive £650, so it’s well worth a visit to find out how much you can save.

Clare Francis added: “Those looking to buy their first home or looking to relocate should take action if they want to make their money go further. Working out monthly outgoings and budgeting is crucial, as is seeking out the best deal on all essential household expenditure to ensure you’re not paying over the odds for bills.”

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

* 51% could save at least £174, MoneySuperMarket Data, Dec 2013

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