It’s been a year since we moved into our new home in small town Northern Ireland. When we move, I’ll update this post to add the town in. You know how it is, I would prefer to only have visitors I actually know. Come see me at work – that’ll be quite sufficient.
Well, we really like this house. It fits all our stuff well and I’m pretty proud of how we set it all up. It kind of has a minimalist upstairs and a not minimalist in any way downstairs. Expect a house tour video soon!
Once again we did not have a guarantor for this house. Although we have been in Northern Ireland for three years, we feel quite strongly that it is not appropriate to ask someone to guarantee your rental. This is a double deposit in lieu of guarantee.
Protecting your deposit: This is another rip from the Belfast post. Landlords and letting agents are legally required to register your deposit with a third-party, deposit protection scheme. Make sure you know which organisation is keeping your money secure. For more information about deposit protection, check out the NI Direct website.
Tenant Liability & Contents Insurance: SEE VEHICLE INSURANCE
We are combining our insurance with our car insurance provider, Admiral. Our total house, contents and car insurance is now significantly cheaper than in Belfast. We renegotiate all our contracts annually to ensure we’re getting the best deal.
Power: £20 per month (average) (SSE Airtricity)
Paying for electricity pay-as-you-go style is supposedly the more expensive way of doing power. This house came set up with PAYG power and when I tried to get it changed over to bill pay things proved to be a real hassle. To date, the statement is still coming through in someone else’s name. But so long as we put money on the metre, we will have power, so I am not too bothered to fix it.
Oil: £365 annual spend/approx. £58 for 100L (Bangor Fuels)
The tank behind our house takes 1100L of oil to fill it. We have only put in about 500L in the last 12 months. Because we went on a long holiday to New Zealand over winter, we did not need to heat the house as much
There is no charge for water in Northern Ireland.
Trash Collection: n/a
Council collection is included in the property rates which is, in turn, included in the rent. We have four bins at the moment – a time-consuming recycling system of blue bin (most stuff), black bin (glass), brown bin (compostable), and grey bin (general waste). Bins are collected bi-weekly.
// Phone & Internet
Internet: £27.99 per month (BT Internet)
Fibre was recently installed in our area, but we’re just going to plod along with our normal broadband internet. The price is decent, a good bit cheaper than the high-speed price we were paying in the city and honestly – I’ve noticed no difference.
Phone: £25 per month
At the start of the year, both Tiernan and I renegotiated our phone contracts on both sides to the Irish border. Tiernan is still with 3 mobile down south. I am continuing on with Vodafone and have halved my bill costs to £25 per month although my periodic text messages to New Zealand sometimes push the bill closer to £30.
Netflix: €10 per month
Tiernan’s Netflix account is still our only television service. It’s the big plan that allows you to watch 4 screens.
TV Licence: £147 per year
Nothing has changed with TV Licencing except the increase in price. We still have to pay the annual charge in order to watch tv on any of our screens, from the living room TV to our mobile phones despite not watching any public funded channels. But that’s a rant for another day.
Since we are now down to a household of two, I have decided to reduce our grocery budget to £175 per month. After discovering some amazing financial vloggers on YouTube, I have started doing a lot more cooking at home and, as a consequence, we are eating out much less. That has been the bigger of our recent lifestyle changes. Because Tiernan is home so infrequently, we did like to eat out so that our time spent together is more about having fun and less about doing chores. Fortunately, Tiernan is very adept at doing the dishes and our village doesn’t have an endless supply of restaurant options. In fact, I think there is currently only one. So I cook. Tiernan cleans. Everyone wins.
I also decided to take advantage of Tesco Direct. This allows you to pay a monthly subscription and enjoy Tesco deliveries right to your door. Unlike in Belfast where groceries were just around the corner, we now live 15 minutes drive from the nearest Tesco. For £36 for the year we can enjoy unlimited deliveries on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursdays. Getting the groceries delivered has helped me to stick to the meal plan and removed the hassle of actually going to the store. Why would you not?
Fuel: £200 pm (for two cars doing about 20,000 miles per annum)
Neither of us have any use for public transport now that we’re living in small town Northern Ireland. The cars are essential to get us places, but mine doesn’t get a lot of use. I walk to work and Tiernan uses his to commute to Dublin every other week. On the whole, our mileage has decreased since moving. I have not changed our fuel budget yet – just waiting to see how things go down.
Insurance: £67 per month includes contents insurance (Admiral)
Our rate is now based on the BT22 postcode. Insurance is calculated partially based on claims in your area. So it is not surprising that a smaller town has fewer claims. One more year and we will have built up a no claims history in Northern Ireland we can take advantage of. As I mentioned earlier, we are saving a lot this year in the realm of insurance. £136 per month, in fact. That’s £1,632 a year we now have left over to do fun stuff. I don’t know what. But we could do it.
Vehicle Tax: £250 per year (approx. £21 per month)
This is the annual fee vehicle users must pay in order to use their vehicle on the road. I used to have this fab eco-boost Ford Fiesta that had no tax. Sadly, my new car is not as environmentally friendly, so it is taxed at £115 for the year. This will be must last run of fees for this car as I am returning it at the end of summer 2018. Tiernan’s Renault Clio is aging so the tax is at £135. We pay our vehicle tax in one go because it is cheaper in the long run, but there is a monthly payment option. Look closely at the bills you pay here in the UK because some organizations penalize you for monthly payments.
Total Monthly Spend: £986.24
We’ll do a comparison post eventually. But for now, you can see how much less we’re spending simply by moving to a cheaper area and (more importantly) renegotiating our contracts. In Belfast, we spent £1,464.99 per month. Rounding up, we’re about £500 per month better off. Yes – pretty please with that.
Gym: We still haven’t gotten around to joining a gym. If we did, we would join PureGym. Their plans run from £15pm.
Are you enjoying the Cost of Living series? We’ve finished compiling all our recent moves and are looking for more, real life, living costs to share. If you’re living abroad and are happy to share your story with us, please drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or send a DM via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Last updated: 12 June 2017 – Be aware, these prices are correct as of June 2016 and since they represent our real living cost from June 2016-June 2017, they will not get updated later on. Make sure you check the websites for the companies we used to calculate up to date costs! There are no affiliate links in this post.