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Is £50k a good salary, and how does it compare to the median earnings of full-time workers across the UK? We look into whether you can live on £50,000, where it will go farthest, and how this figure the median earnings across the UK in this article.
Perhaps you currently earn £50k a year and are wondering how it compares to other full-time workers.
Maybe you’ve recently been offered a new job – or are searching for new roles – and trying to gauge what this salary might look like in a budget.
In this article, we’ll be addressing the question: Is £50,000 a good salary in the UK?
You might also be interested to read our write-up of how a £40,000 salary compares next!
TLDR: Yes, £50,000 is above the median annual pay for full-time employees, making it a great salary for most Brits across the country.
However, as you might expect, your location, occupation, and more can affect how a £50k salary measures up.
We’ll be deep diving into all those factors and more here. Read how a £60k salary and how a £40k compare to the median earnings in the UK next!
How Does £50,000 Annual Break Down After Tax?
£50,000 breaks down to £4,167 a week or £962 a month – an impressive salary for many individuals.
However, it’s important to remember that you’ll pay tax on that salary, and the actual amount you receive in your bank account either on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis will already have that tax reduced.
Here’s what your net income will look like after taxes:
|Period||Gross Income (£)||Net Income (£)|
*The daily figures are calculated based on a 5-day working week.
Is £50,000 a good salary?
At the end of the 2022 financial year, the median annual pay in the UK was £33,000 – putting £50k well above average.
Therefore, anyone on this salary should be pleased to know that you are earning above the average annual wage – and by nearly £20,000 a year.
£50,000 Salary Compared by Location
As one might expect, the highest median annual earnings can be found in the City of London, sitting at £56,628 at the end of the financial year in 2022 – no other location in the UK has a higher median annual salary than £50,000. Salaries are generally higher around London due to the much higher cost of living, and due to the higher concentration of national and global businesses.
The median annual earnings for London as a whole were slightly lower, at £41,860, meaning someone on £50k per year would still be earning above the median even in the capital city.
At the other end of the scale, a £50,000 salary would be considered well above average in the North East – the only region where the annual median pay falls under £30k.
£50k by Age group
One might expect a £50k salary to be more likely to be attained by older generations with more years of experience behind them – but in fact, a £50,000 salary remains well above the median across all age groups.
|Age Group||Median Annual Pay (£)|
The age group with the highest median annual earnings is Gen Xers – specifically full-time workers between 40 – 49. However, at £36,961, this is still some way away from a £50k pay packet.
18 – 21-year-olds have the lowest median annual pay at £18,597 – although this is not surprising since most individuals in this category will have just left full-time education and newly entering the work space.
Across all age groups, a £50k salary is well above the median, making this a great salary no matter how old you are.
£50,000 Salary Compared By Occupation
Aside from location, it’s important to consider how the industry you work in can affect how your salary measures up.
Your education, qualifications, and training – as well as the demand for your job role – will all have an impact on your earning potential. However, it can also be helpful to get an idea of what kind of job roles are commonly earning at and above the £50k mark.
If nothing else, you can identify if you’re being severely underpaid!
Despite £50,000 being above the national median annual salary, there are certain occupations where this figure does fall short.
Here are a few occupations that have higher median earnings than £50,000:
- Chief executives and senior officials (£79.835)
- Marketing, sales, and advertising directors (£77, 695)
- Information technology directors (£73,571)
- Public relations and communications directors (£66,510)
- Financial managers and directors (£64,193)
- Functional managers and directors n.e.c. (£61,139)
- Specialist medical practitioners (£68,614)
- Senior police officers (£59,141)
- Barristers and judges (£53,110)
- Headteachers and principals (£66,686)
- Aircraft pilots and air traffic controllers (£62,778)
- Train and tram drivers (£58,868)
Jobs that pay £50k
So we’ve covered the jobs that pay more than a £50,000 annual salary, but what about the positions where you’d expect to see this kind of pay?
Here are the jobs that had this median salary at the end of the last financial year (we’ve allowed jobs that fall £1,000 above or below this sum, too):
- Health services and public health managers and directors
- Rail transport operatives
- Electrical engineers
- IT business analysts, architects and systems designers
- Business and financial project management professionals
- Research and development (R&D) managers
- Taxation experts
- Purchasing managers and directors
- IT managers
- Electronics engineers
Could I afford a mortgage on a £50k salary?
Yes, in theory, you would be able to get a mortgage with a £50,000 salary.
Mortgage lenders will, as a general rule, offer around 4.5 – 5 times your salary, so a £50,000 salary would mean you could get a mortgage of around £225,000 – £250,000.
If you had a 20% deposit, you could be looking at buying a house with a budget of up to £275,000.
As of January 2023, the average house price was £290,000 in the UK – so you might struggle to find a good range of houses with that budget.
Keep in mind, if you have a partner, then both your salaries can be used to get a joint mortgage. If you were both earning £50k a year, you’d be looking at a much bigger budget (£450,000 – £500,000) and have a lot more options.
How should I spend my £50k salary?
We’re not going to judge how you spend your own hard-earned cash – but this is a personal finance site, so it’s only fair we give you a few budget-savvy pointers!
A simple budgeting tip to provide some perspective into what budget categories you should allocate your income to is the 50/30/20 rule.
The 50/30/20 rule is a simple, practical rule of thumb that makes budgeting super simple and in black-and-white. Of course, you can adjust the quotas to your needs – but this at least provides a baseline.
According to this rule, you should aim to allocate your net income as follows:
- 50% on needs
- 30% on wants
- 20% on savings and debt repayments
Here’s the 50/30/20 budget breakdown for a £3,169 monthly income (£50k monthly net pay):
|Category||Percentage of Income||Monthly Amount|
|Savings & Debt||20%||£633.80|
Needs include the obvious bills, mortgage/rent, as well as any necessary expenses such as childcare, insurance, etc.
Wants might include allocating funds for your hobbies (although if you’re on a tight budget, there are plenty of free hobbies you could take up!), social life, fitness, travel, etc.
Savings and debt are pretty self-explanatory – although you might want to break down how much goes towards debts, and where you’ll put your savings (for example, in an emergency fund, an ISA, a general savings account, etc).
Affording rent on a £50k salary
With the average rent costing £1,199 in the UK (as of April 2023), this budgeting rule would leave you with around £385 for remaining bills. A general rule of thumb is to spend no more than 1/3 of your monthly income on rent/mortgage.
Depending on the cost of living in your area, you may find you need to allocate more of your ‘wants’ or ‘savings’ quota to your ‘needs’ budget.
Budgeting tips to make £50k go further
Despite £50,000 being an above-average salary in many parts of the UK, you may still be feeling the sting of the cost of living crisis. This could be especially true if you live in a high-cost-of-living area, live alone, have dependents, or have large sums of debt that you need to pay off every month.
Here are a few simple, practical budgeting tips that can make your £50k annual salary stretch that bit further:
1. Track your income
It’s very difficult to make your money go further when you don’t know where it’s going in the first place.
Make an effort to track your income, even if it’s just for a couple of months, and gain an awareness of where your money is going. You could use an app like Snoop, Plum or Emma to automate this process, or you could use a good old-fashioned Excel spreadsheet!
2. Identify Your Biggest Expenses
We all have those areas where we have a tendency to overspend, be it on clothes or takeaways or something else entirely.
However, when it starts adding up, those luxuries we allow ourselves can become a major spending issue.
Look out for subscriptions you don’t use, habits you could do with cutting out, and patterns in your spending that you can try to adjust.
3. Build Frugal Habits
Frugal living isn’t necessarily about spending less – it’s about spending smarter. Learning more about frugal living could be the fundamental difference between living paycheck to paycheck, and using your money to add genuine value to your life.
These frugal living tips are a fabulous place to get started with this.
And if you’re still struggling…
4. Consider increasing your income
If asking your employer for a raise is beyond the realms of possibility right now, you have two options here:
- Look for a higher-paying job
- Start a side hustle and make money on the side
The sacrifice here is your time – side hustlers spend their evenings working instead of relaxing after their 9 to 5, but with rising costs everywhere it’s worth considering. Plus, you never know where your side hustle could take you.
Keep in mind that earning more than £50,000 puts you into the second tax bracket in the UK, so this is something you should carefully consider before putting your effort into building your income (and make sure you understand what this means for your taxes).
Tax on £50,000 per Year and Over
When you earn £50,000 in the UK, the way your income is taxed will depend on the current tax brackets set by the government. The tax bands for income tax are as follows:
- Personal Allowance: £12,570 income is tax-free.
- Basic rate: 20% tax on income between £12,571 to £50,270.
- Higher rate: 40% tax on income between £50,271 to £125,140.
- Additional rate: 45% tax on income over £125,140.
So, if you earn exactly £50,000 a year, the first £12,570 would be tax-free due to the Personal Allowance. The remaining £37,430 would be taxed at the basic rate of 20%.
However, if you earn more than £50,000, the amount exceeding £50,270 will be taxed at the higher rate of 40%. For example, if you earn £55,000, the first £12,570 is tax-free, the next £37,700 is taxed at 20%, and the remaining £4,730 is taxed at 40%.
In addition to income tax, you’ll also need to pay National Insurance contributions, which are another form of taxation in the UK that fund state benefits. The rate you pay depends on how much you earn and is broken down into different ‘classes’.
If you’re an employed earner, you pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions. The rates are:
- 12% on earnings between £184 and £967 a week (£7974 to £4195 a month)
- 2% on earnings above £967 a week (£4195 a month)
What Makes a Good Salary in the UK?
The latest data from the ONS showed that high- and low-paid employees earned a gross hourly wage of £23.7 and £10.5, respectively. We can therefore calculate that high-income employees make an average gross income of £45,504 per year, while low-earners make an average gross income of £20,160 per year.
If you make £60k a year, you would therefore be considered an extremely high earner in the UK.
No! While a degree might give you a foot up in reaching the £50k salary mark straight after leaving full-time education, you can still work your way up the career ladder to £50,000 and beyond without one.
Some of the cheapest places to live in the UK where £40k will stretch further include Dundee, Hull, Glasgow, West Yorkshire, Carlisle, and Londonderry.
Assuming you work a standard full-time 40-hour week, your hourly rate when earning £50k a year is approximately £24.05 per hour.
A £50,000 annual salary is £4,167 per month or £3,169 after taxes.
You are considered in the top 1% of earners in the UK if you make £15,196 per month. Someone earning £50k annually (£4,167 a month) is in the top 25% of employees in the UK.
Yes, a £50,000 annual salary is considered a very good salary in the UK and is well above the median annual income for full-time workers. A £50k salary would put you in the middle class in most areas of the UK and is considered enough to live comfortably on.
Source: All income data is sourced from the ONS earnings and working hours data, with the latest data available from the end of the 2022 financial year.