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Living Expenses


Trying to calculate how much money you will need to bring with you when you come to the UK, or work out how much an English education will cost you will firstly need to run a budget - so please see our budget guide for studying in the UK.

To give you a guide on what things cost and what you should expect to pay we have separated this out into three categories, accommodation costs, living expenses and a sample of what a few universities in the UK estimate it will cost to attend there. As always, costs can vary depending on what part of the country you are planning to study in so always contact your University as they will give you the most accurate figures for the part of the UK.

Student Accommodation

As we highlighted in our student accommodation section, there are many options for places to live when you come to the UK, and each of these will vary in cost. If you are planning to come to the UK for University then you will most probably take the Halls of Residence option and these normally start from about £50 per week, moving up to around £80 per week for some larger universities. Some will have catering facilities such as a canteen, but others will just have a kitchen so you can cook your own food.

If you opt to not go the halls of residence option, you can always go and find your own accommodation and the best way to do this is get a group of 6 students that you would like to live with. You can then go house hunting and find your own accommodation. The benefit of doing this is that firstly it’s fun to look for a house together and secondly with 6 people costs are split 6 ways and so it can be a much cheaper option. Rents can range from anything from £35/ week upwards depending on the standard of accommodation.

If you are coming to the UK for ESL lessons or for another reason you might want to opt for a homestay. These are often shorter term visits and for that reason it is not common to come to the UK for a degree program and to stay at a homestay for the entire time of your degree. Homestays generally start from about £100/ week in London and much less if you go outside of London. Although this looks more expensive you have to consider that this price will be inclusive of meals and all accommodation.

Living Expenses

Working out what living expenses you will need to consider and how much they will cost you will depend on so many factors. For example if you want to live the lifestyle you have been doing with your parents back in your home country - this will probably be very expensive to do, so you might have to make compromises!

As a rough guide we have calculated what it could cost you for the major items you will need when you are in the UK:

Food

If you buy your own food, try and budget in about £25 to £30 per week to purchase food supplies. You can of course be smart and savvy about this and save much more.

Telephone (landline)

BT has a base rate of £10/ month for just line rental so calls are charged on top of this so that would be £2.50 per week.

Telephone (mobile)

The cost of mobiles varies depending on the provider and tariff you are on. Prepaid is generally cheaper to control costs, but if you make a lot of calls a contract will start at £5/ week.

DSL / Internet

Most companies charge a base of £5/ week for standard DSL in the UK.

Bills

If you live in a house or apartment you will need to calculate water, heating and electricity into your budget - this can be anything from £10/week for all bills depending on the time of year.

Travel

If you live away from University you will need to include travel expenses in your budget. This can be anything from £10/ week, more if you live in London.

Study Materials

Books, notepads, paper, printer cartridges are all things you will need and you should budget about £7/ week for this.

Fun

It’s not all study when you come to the UK, there will be time for some fun so you need to think about the cost of this. A cinema ticket in the UK costs around £8, a pint of beer £3, a DVD rental around £3. These are all costs you will need to budget so set aside what you’ll need for fun!

Of course this list is not comprehensive, but will give you a starting point to work out what things will cost and the cost of living for the UK. There are also some things you can do to lower your living expenses and here are few tips:

Tip 1 - Student NUS Card

When you enroll as a student in the UK you will get an NUS card which is a student ID card from the National Union of Students. With this card you will be able to get discounts at many national stores - so always make sure you ask if you can get a discount!

Tip 2 - Choose where you shop

If you are living in your own flat, house or halls of residence with no catering you will need to buy your own food. It is common knowledge that supermarkets such as Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose are more expensive than Tesco and Asda. Save money and shop at Asda or Tesco.

Tip 3 - Student NUS Card

Your international calling costs will probably be high as you will want to call home often. If you have DSL you can take advantage of Skype to call around the world for little or nothing. But to also take advantage of cheap calls from your mobile or landline phone, check out the “Call UK” section for low cost calling from the UK.

Sample University Living Costs

UK universities generally provide guidance as to how much an international student should expect to spend on living expenses (not including university tuition and college fees). Of course, making a budget and controlling your costs is largely up to you, but here is a short representative list to give you a general idea of living expenses:

  • University of Liverpool - £5,500 to £7,000 per year
  • Essex University - £5,700 to £7,500 per year
  • University of Manchester - £8,100 per year
  • Oxford University – £9,750 per year
  • University of London – approximately £210 per week

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