Affordable England

“Affordable England” has been almost unthinkable in the past few years, with the pound at $2.00 at the start of 2008 (when we were in England), but on Friday the pound was below $1.60, making England more affordable to American tourists.

The high for the pound was $2.11 in November 2007. On August 1 2008 the pound was at $1.97, then there was a steep dropoff to $1.75 by September 11 and $1.59 on Friday October 24.

Here are some sample prices.

  • Our vacation rental cost £340 per week (large 2bed/2bath house with garden, including all utilities and broadband) – $680/week last January and $544/week now – a savings of $136/week.
  • A Cream Tea (tea/coffee, two scones, clotted cream, jam) cost £4.00 (at The Kitchen, Minchinhampton) – $8.00 (per person!!) last January and $6.40 now.
  • Lunch at a pub was about £25.00 for the two of us (Fish and Chips, a veggie bake, two half pints at The Tunnel Inn, Coates) – $50.00 in January and $40.00 now.
  • A Tall Americano at Starbucks was £1.75 – $3.50 in January and $2.80 now. Yes, they have Starbucks in England 🙂
  • A “Saver Return” train ticket from Stroud to London cost £39.00 (off-peak hours, return) – $78.00 last January and $62.40 now (still worth driving to Oxford where the price is £19.00, the trains run frequently and you can use a network discount card).
  • We experienced the $100 tank of gas last January. Diesel was £1.15/liter – $2.30/liter (about $9.20/gallon). Diesel costs £1.07/liter now (according to What Gas) – $1.71/liter (about $6.84/gallon). Since our midsize car got very good mileage – over 40 miles per gallon – and at home our old gas guzzler gets 16mpg, gas did not seem expensive.
Fish and Chips at a Pub
Fish and Chips at a Pub

Even with the pound at $2.00, England was still an affordable option if you traveled accordingly. Traveling this same way makes England even more affordable now.

  • Vacation rentals are good value – less expensive per night than comparable hotels, more space than a hotel room and you can cook some of your meals.
  • Car rentals are less per week than in other European countries – check the prices at our affiliate AutoEurope.
  • Gas prices are higher but cars get better mileage there. Compact cars usually use regular gas (petrol) but get good mileage and larger cars usually use diesel and get very good mileage.
  • Trains are expensive, but cheaper than driving and go to many parts of the country.
  • Food is expensive but you can save by having lunches in pubs and tea rooms and making dinner in your vacation rental. Or pick up some less expensive prepared meals from Waitrose, or take-away from the local Fish & Chips shop or Indian restaurant.
  • Our favorite entertainment, walking in the countryside, is free (apart from buying your hiking gear).
  • You will find many local concerts and plays that are not expensive.

We spent two months in England earlier this year and it was not an expensive vacation. It would be even less expensive now.

I am happy to see the pound go down against the dollar, but I understand that these are strange financial conditions now and that times are difficult for all of us. I personally feel frozen in place until after the election and I know it will take time for the economy to recover. Still, I am thinking about a spring trip to England and France!

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

One thought on “Affordable England”

  1. Cream Tea! My mouth is watering remembering that from last February. Oh well, guess I’ll just go have some gelato instead.

    It is amazing to see the drop in the past few weeks, our British friends in Italy have been complaining for several months as the pound dropped against the euro. We kept reminding them we have $…it could be worse.

    It is interesting that here in Italy the exchange rate and the price for a liter of unleaded are usually about the same. $1.25 +/- per euro, 1.25 euro +/- for a liter of benzina.

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