So there are many things we all spend our money on regardless of where you live in the world. But the cost of those things varies hugely. Today we have an Adept English listening lesson which talks about what things in the UK cost. Things like a beer, or some minced beef, things you probably buy where you live and can compare the costs.
Obviously there are some currency conversions that need to convert our prices in British Pounds to your own currency. For the major currencies like the Euro you get about 1.1 Euros for a Pound, for the US dollar you get 1.38 Dollars for a Pound and around 103 Indian Rupees for a Pound. I used the Xe currency converter, you can find your own currency if you would like here
The median annual pay for full-time employees was £31,461 in the UK in 2020. In London you will probably pay £1,200 a month on average just on a mortgage for a property. A mortgage is the loan you might take out with a bank to slowly pay, usually over 20+ years, for your property. The average mortgage payment in the UK is £723.
You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.
⭐ Bob Hope, Comedian
Petrol in the UK is £1.33 for a litre, and diesel is £1.35 a litre. A typical car in the UK has a 60 litre tank so just filling up your car will cost around £70-80.
I found this English listening podcast quite interesting to research and pull together. If you want more like this English lesson, please let me know and I will happily do some more in the future.
Consumer Retail Loaf Staple Mortgage Property Inflation
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Let’s do a podcast today
on life in the UK. One of the things which it’s hard to get an idea of, if you are outside a country is….what do things cost? What is the typical cost of things in the UK?
Every year, the UK government uses a measure called the CPI, the Consumer Price Index to measure how expensive are things generally to buy in the UK. The word ‘consumer’, CONSUMER just means anyone who ‘consumes’, who buys a product or a service - so that’s everybody.
So the CPI or Consumer Price Index uses a number of different prices to assess generally ‘Has the cost of things gone up or down?’ Another word we might use in this context – ‘inflation’. ‘Inflation’, INFLATION - that’s when prices rise. And sometimes it happens very quickly. And it’s a sign of an economy that might be in trouble if inflation is too high.
The other measure that’s talked about in the UK is the RPI – the Retail Price Index. The word ‘Retail’, RETAIL just refers to the part of our economy which is about selling goods – like supermarkets and shops do – or any business where the public, normal people can buy goods or services.
People complain sometimes that the government prefers to use the CPI, rather than the older RPI, even though some might argue that the RPI is a more realistic measure. This is because it includes inflation in the prices of houses. That affects you whether you buy your own house, or you rent. So that’s again – everyone! Housing is a big cost. But CPI ignores that.
Anyway, CPI and RPI are government measures of how expensive things are, how much do things cost in the UK. How about we look at some ‘normal prices’ of normal things, to give you an idea what things cost here? Well, our currency, our money of course is the Great British Pound (£) or sterling. So I’ll give you some costs, some prices in sterling.
What do items in the UK cost to buy – food shopping?
What is the cost of a loaf of bread in the UK? Well, there are lots of different types of bread. But if you go for an ordinary 800 gram loaf, that’s LOAF, then the cost is anything from £1 to £1.60. The nicer the bread, the more seeds or grain, then the higher the price. And if you wanted French stick – a ficelle perhaps – then you would pay 85p to £1.15.
What about milk? Well, if you go for standard cow’s milk, then it comes in ‘semi-skimmed’, which means half-fat, ‘skimmed’ which means the fat taken out and ‘whole milk’. The price is more expensive or less expensive depending upon how much you buy. So 4 pints or 2.27 litres of semi-skimmed milk will cost you £1.09, that’s 48p per litre. But if you buy a smaller size, it’s more expensive – so for 1 pint or 568ml of whole milk, it’s 55p or 97p per litre.
What about minced beef – that’s BEEF? If you wanted to make a chilli con carne or spaghetti bolognese, then you might buy minced beef. So a 500 gram pack of minced beef would cost around £2.50. The price differs depending upon how much fat, what % fat is in the minced beef. The higher the % fat, the lower the price so 20% fat in your minced beef, it only costs £1.49 for 500 grams, but if you want lean beef mince, with only 5% fat, then it will cost you £2.59.
A photograph of a young man putting goods on counter to pay in a supermarket. What things in the UK cost in today's English listening mp3 lesson.
What about fruit? How about a bag of apples? So for a pack of six eating apples (than means rather than apples that you cook with) – a pack of six apples - £1.60. So that’s for six Royal Gala, or six Braeburn or six Granny Smith apples. That seems a good price.
And what about a cooking staple ingredient – ‘staple’ STAPLE means ‘it’s hard to do without’. What about the price of onions – that’s ONIONS? Well, again a kilo of onions. For a kilo of plain, brown onions it would be 85p but if you want red onions, that would be £1. So again there’s a lot of choice, different types of onions and it depends how you want to buy them and what kind, how much they cost.
Notice how our system of measuring moves between metric and imperial. Some things are rounded to the nearest kilogram – like the onions. You buy in 500 gram, 750 gram for meat, say. And yet when it comes to milk, we buy it in pints – so 1 pint is 568ml. It’s quite confusing when we mix these two systems of measuring, but actually most people in the UK are quite familiar with this and [are] used to using both.
Anyway, what about other ways of measuring how much do things cost here?
Well, if you go into a pub or a bar, what will a drink cost? So a gin and tonic – something like Gordon’s, Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, or Hendricks – that would cost £4.35 to £4.50 perhaps, in the average pub. Ice and lemon free are of course.
A large glass of wine, 250ml, whether it’s white, red or rose might cost between £5 - £7, depending of course on the quality of the wine. And what about the famous British pint of beer – a standard pint of bitter? Well, a 330ml bottle would perhaps cost around £4.
But if you want a genuine draught pint of beer – which is included in that measure, the Retail Price Index or RPI? Well, depending upon the type of beer and the type of pub – it’ll cost more in London than Manchester – you’re probably looking at around £4 - £5 for a pint of beer.
Another measure – and this one’s a bit crazy. This last measure of ‘what things cost’ is an example of what’s really expensive in the UK. And this is….well, the cost of housing, the cost of your home, the cost of buying a house. Most people in the UK prefer to buy their own house – I know that it’s different in mainland Europe, where people are happier to rent.
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Owning a property is not such a big deal there. But in the UK it is. And the average house price in England is a staggering £268,000 and in London, the average price, as at April 2021 was £492,000. And you’re not getting anything special for that – especially in London.
It’s not as though that money buys you a really nice or really big house. It’s ‘average’. That means ‘if you add up all the house prices then divide by the number [of houses], you get a typical price. So that’s why perhaps we all feel a bit poor. We don’t have any money to spare in the UK because our housing costs us so much! It’s really shocking – it takes a large part of our income.
Anyway, I hope that gives you a bit of an insight into life in the UK and ‘what things cost’. If it seems expensive in comparison to your country, then bear in mind, it’s probably easier to earn more here too to balance that out. But if you’re looking at those prices and thinking ‘Wow! The UK is cheap!’ then please, as soon as we’re able to travel, come and visit us and find out for real!
Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.