What are the financial pros and cons of living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?

Updated on 27 February 2019 | 0 Comments

You may pay higher taxes depending on where you live in the UK or save on university tuition fees, so what are some of the key financial pros and cons for those living outside of England?

While much of the focus of this site is on the perks and penalties on offer in England, in this article I'll focus on those that are unique to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.



It’s swings and roundabouts when it comes to tax. 

“If you earn up to £24,000 a year, you’ll pay slightly less tax in Scotland than you would in England”, says Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

This is because there’s a ‘Starter’ tax band of 19% in Scotland, which sits between your Personal Allowance and the level at which you pay the Basic Rate of 20%.

“It’s not a huge difference, but worth around £2 a month”.

Higher Rate taxpayers in Scotland face a 41% rate, which “kicks in earlier at £43,431”. This compares with a 40% tax rate on income over £46,351 across the rest of the UK.

Read more about the countries around the world that make the most money from tax.

Going green

Interest-free loans are available when buying an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. 

The ‘Electric Vehicle Loan’ is part of a scheme run by the Energy Saving Trust on behalf of the Scottish Government and enables you to get up to £35,000 for a vehicle, (repayable over six years), or £10,000 for a new electric scooter or motorcycle.

Loans are for new vehicles only, and you must apply by 31st March 2019. Find out more at the Energy Saving Trust.

This is in addition to help with the cost of having a ‘Home Charge Point’ installed. This typically costs £1,000 but you can claim £500 from OLEV, (the Office for Low Emission Vehicles), and another £300 from Energy Saving Trust Scotland.

Looking to buy an electric car? Compare loans with Confused.com

University tuition fees

No tuition fees to pay if you live and study in Scotland which saves up to £9,250 a year compared with universities in England.

You don’t have to be born in Scotland to qualify, just providing you can prove you’ve lived there for at least three years.

But on the flip side, “you’ll start repaying your student loan on annual earnings from £18,330 whereas in England and Wales it’s £25,000”, says Coles.


Tax breaks and perks in Wales (Image: Shutterstock)

Wages & house prices

Wages are lower in Wales than across the rest of the UK, according to the Centre for Cities, but your home could be on the up.

The average weekly pre-tax salary across the UK is £539 whereas, in Wales, it’s £505 for Cardiff and £464 for Swansea; that’s nearly £4,000 less per year. But while take-home pay may be less; house prices in Wales have outperformed the average UK price growth over the past year.

Average property prices in Wales stand at £162,089, (compared with a UK average of £232,554), according to HM Land Registry. 

But prices in Wales have gone up 5.8% over the past year compared with average annual growth of just 3.5% across the UK.

Find out about the mortgage lesson we can take from the under-25s.

Second steppers

Land Transaction Tax, the equivalent of Stamp Duty kicks in on property prices over £180,000, whereas second-time buyers face a much lower Stamp Duty threshold in England at £125,000.

Buying a £180,000 property in Wales would mean no tax to pay, but the same property in England would incur £1,100 in Stamp Duty according to the Money Advice Service. 

Compare mortgage rates: see how much you could save


Flight tickets can cost around 30% more if you fly from Wales, with prices from either Heathrow or Gatwick usually always cheaper according to travelsupermarket.com.

It calculated an ‘average’ airfare, based on five popular destinations, (New York, Tenerife, Dubai, Barcelona and Malaga), and found flying from Cardiff typically costs £312 return, compared with £284 from Glasgow or £206 from Gatwick.

But on the plus side, smaller airports can mean cheaper facilities as you’ll pay nearly half the price for airport parking at Cardiff compared with Gatwick where two weeks parking in April costs £59.99 compared with £105.99.

Heading abroad? Don't forget the travel insurance!

Northern Ireland 


Unemployment stands at 3.4%, which is lower than the UK average of 4%, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. 

And Northern Ireland is the ’happiest’ place to live according to the results of a combined survey from online mortgage broker Habito and the Sunday Times. 

Jobs, schools and broadband speed along with culture, community spirit and local shopping facilities were all taken into account and five places in Northern Ireland ranked among the best places to live in the UK.

These include Ballyhackamore in Belfast, Holywood, Newcastle, Portrush and Strangford.


Housing is cheaper in Northern Ireland than many other areas of the UK with average prices of £155,050 according to the Built Environment Research Institute at Ulster University.

But while house price growth is generally at its slowest for nearly six years, according to Nationwide, Northern Ireland has seen prices rises of 5.8% over the past year, compared with a UK average of 3.5%.

Compare mortgage rates: see how much you could save

University tuition fees

Students from Northern Ireland who are studying there pay up to £4,160 a year in tuition fees, less than half the annual tuition fees set by some universities in England.

But when it comes to repaying student loans, the earnings threshold in Northern Ireland is £18,300; that’s £6,700 less than the existing £25,000 threshold for students in England.


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