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    Here's How The Average Cost Of Living Compares For Boomers, Gen-X, Millennials, And Gen-Z In London

    Here's a life hack for every generation: have wealthy parents!

    Does anyone else ever feel like every time they leave the house they end up spending all of their hard-earned cash away? It's no surprise that we often seethe with jealousy when our grandparents speak about all they could purchase when they were our age ‚ÄĒ it just seems like everything was way more affordable in the past.

    The question is ‚ÄĒ are we all actually bad at budgeting like some Boomers like to think or, were things actually just so much cheaper and easily purchased "back in the day"?

    Using data from the Back In My Day Calculator made by Hillary's UK and other sources, we can calculate the average costs of many basic necessities in the years when the oldest members of Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Gen-Z in London were about 22-24 years old! 

    While I would love to dig deep into every area of life, I've chosen just a few key relatable areas to compare, as that's where the data is!

    Hillary's has sourced information from The Office for National Statistics, The AA, The Nationwide Building Society, and The National Archives to form their comprehensive tool.

    Before we get into specifics, let's start with the average income.

    english pounds spread out
    Tek Image / Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

    It's important throughout this breakdown to remember the average salary of each generation while they're facing the costs of things in this list.

    In 1969 (Baby Boomers): The average salary was around £962/yr or £15,109/yr in 2021.

    In 1988 (Generation X): The average salary rose to about £8,853/yr or £22,487/yr in 2021.

    In 2004 (Millennials):  The average salary increased to £19,331/yr which would be about £27,643/yr today.

    The average salary for the oldest Gen-Z in 2020/2021 is about £33,280/yr or about £640/wk.

    While there's been a steady increase in the average income for each generation noted, there have been past and current fluctuations that have either caused price inflations to soar beyond what the average salaries could reach at times or a decrease in things that used to be valued at so much more. 

    With that out of the way, let's get into the list!

    1. Housing:

    row of townhomes
    Bus√ɬÉ√ā Photography / Getty Images

    In 1969 (Baby Boomers): The average home price in London equalled to about £4,145 or £65,077 in today's currency.

    In 1988 (Generation X): The average home price in London jumped up to about £82,886 which would be £210,530 in 2021.

    In 2004 (Millennials): The average home price in London rose to £225,156 or what would be £321,973 today.

    2021 (Gen-Z): Today the average home price in London is £514,000.

    The key takeaway: Although there's been salary increases throughout the decades, the affordability of homes has gone down dramatically. What would've taken a Baby Boomer less than 3.8 times their average salary to put money down on a home in London, would now take Gen-Z 8.9 times their average salary. So, it's a wee bit hard for younger generations to get a home. 

    ITV2 / Via giphy.com

    But who's even considering buying a home in London anymore?

    These days more of those living in London are renting their flat than ever before ‚ÄĒ because of the high costs to own outright. Despite rents in London falling to a low that hasn't been seen in over a decade¬†due to the pandemic, the cost to rent monthly is still about 42.4% higher than it was for the Millennial¬†generation back in the early/mid-2000s.

    The current monthly rent in 2021 for the oldest of Gen-Z is¬†¬£1,572 on average¬†‚ÄĒ not including utilities, renter's insurance, or WiFi. These things combined will cost you an additional¬†¬£125/month.


    2. Transportation:

    cars and busses on the road
    Godong / Getty Images

    In 1969 (Baby Boomers): A regular car in London was priced on average around £1,062 or what would be £16,642 in 2021

    In 1988 (Generation X):  A standard car was priced at £8,170 on average or £20,752 in today's currency

    In 2004 (Millennials): The cost of a regular car in London stabilized a bit between the previous and current generations. A standard sedan had an average cost of £13,750 or what would be equal to £19,663 in 2021. 

    2021 (Gen-Z): The current average cost to purchase a standard non-luxury car would cost around £22,000. 

    Of course, we know that in a global generational sense,¬†Millennials¬†and¬†Gen-Z¬†¬†generally prefer to find¬†other means¬†of transportation than to drive ‚Äď and overall don't place cars as major priorities in areas where they can do without. The¬†majority of Londoners will rather use public transportation like the train, bus or tube to get around.¬†¬†

    The key takeaway:¬†A car in London overall is¬†expensive. For the¬†Baby Boomer¬†generation the cost of a regular car was still something to save up for, given that it was priced at basically a year's worth of wages ‚ÄĒ and in the modern era for¬†Gen-Z¬†although the price for a regular car is less than what is made on yearly average, maintenance, petrol, and insurance costs in London add on a lot of extra pounds. It just makes sense why public transit is a main option here. No winners for this one.

    Warner Bros. / Via giphy.com

    3. Food Groceries:

    vegetables at the market
    Nick Brundle Photography / Getty Images

    Here we will be defining "standard groceries" as the purchase of bread, eggs, milk, meat, potatoes, cheese, and butter.

    In 1969 (Baby Boomers): The average cost of a standard grocery trip came to about £1.10 or £17.24 in 2021 currency.

    In 1988 (Generation X): On average, a standard grocery trip would cost about £6.74 or what would be £17.11 today.

    In 2004 (Millennials): The average cost that would've been spent on groceries in London during this time was around £11.03 or £15.78 today. 

    For 2021 (Gen-Z) the average cost of food groceries is not so easily broken down to a single trip considering the many food and store options that are available today. Though you can consider the average monthly expenses for food groceries in 2021 to cost about £200.

    The key takeaway:¬†Food costs have¬†actually gone down¬†throughout the years due to less of a scarcity of items¬† There are a lot more food options and food in general than previous generations had to choose from ‚ÄĒ if anything, this is where the rise in income over the decades benefits¬†Millennials¬†and¬†Gen-Z¬†and enables the many choices we have today. You win this one, Nana!

    Honestly though, most of us are spending our money on dining out, delivery services, and meal deals are we not? So what is the average monthly cost of dining out and such in 2021?

    a couple eating takeaway outside of restaurant
    Photo By Roo Lewis / Getty Images

    Previous generations didn't really have all of the restaurant and take-away options we have today so this information is just because it's interesting:

    A single restaurant bill can range from £55- £59, according to a 2020 survey of over 1700 establishments in London.

    Where a pint of beer these days will cost an average of £7 and a cocktail £11.

    Then there's the added on fees to food you may order from popular delivery services: UberEats charges an extra £3.50 per order and Deliveroo charges an extra £2.50.

    Even if you're super gifted in the kitchen and prefer to dine out maybe 2 times out of the month, on average that's about £150/month being spent. 

    £150 today would have the purchasing power of about £2,532.64 in 1969. Meaning that £150 in your pocket back in the day would get you a lot more than a good night out with friends.


    There's been a clear up and down pattern of necessities costs throughout the decades. So what about the cost of something that just adds some fun to life?

    4. The Cinema:

    families social distancing in the cinema with masks on
    Filippobacci / Getty Images

    In 1969 (Baby Boomers): A single ticket to the cinema would've cost about 27p or £4.56 in 2021 currency.

    In 1988 (Generation X): A cinema ticket for one person was priced at £2.30 or £6.33 today.

    In 2004 (Millennials): The average ticket to see a film was £4.49 or £7.07 in today's currency.

    2021 (Gen-Z): Following a year of absolutely no going to the cinema and the ever increasing rise of streaming services, ticket prices are now £7.21.

    The key takeaway: These price increases are just a result of regular inflation to cover the costs of modern big budget films, fun features like 3D or advanced seating, as well as the upkeep of theatres. However, do you know how many films I'd actually go to see if the ticket was still only about £4.56?? Bring this back! Better yet, make a ticket price an actual 27p in 2021!

    Take Me Out AU / Via giphy.com

    And, since we mentioned streaming services:

    Let's rapid fire this one friends: 

    Netflix: £5.99/month

    Disney+: £7.99/month

    Amazon Prime Video: £7.99/month

    AppleTV+: £4.99/month

    BritBox: £5.99/month

    £5.99 today would have the purchasing power of about £101.14 in 1969. I guess it does make sense that if streaming services were around in the past somehow, it would be worth a good bit! 

    Disney / Via giphy.com

    So, what to make of all of this?

    I think we can assess that there's not a real "winner" between the generations of who has it better or worse, because for a lot of reasons times have just always been sort of hard. 

    While we're not here to solve the issue of inflation or even figure out how the economy works, it is¬†super¬†interesting to see how money compares between the generations ‚ÄĒ at least, for necessities like housing and food.¬†

    A quid could stretch a good bit farther back in the day, yes, but there's different things that would've been in a 70s budget that we don't have now just like there's things that we pay for now that didn't exist before (brb side-eyeing Amazon Prime). Who can really say who has had it easier, when everyone's situation is so different?

    ABC / Via giphy.com

    What do you think about these price comparisons? Which costs throughout the years would you love to know more about? Let us know in the comments below!