Living in the UK is expensive, and many students underestimate their cost of living. The UK Border Agency requires students have £800 per month for living costs if they are living in London, and £600 per month for living costs elsewhere in the UK, however this will not be enough money. The first few weeks are likely to be the most expensive as you establish yourself in the UK and buy the things you need to get started with your accommodation and studies.

One way you can anticipate your costs is by using the student calculator: http://international.studentcalculator.org.uk/international/. The amount that you spend will depend on where you live and the type of lifestyle you lead. You need to know beforehand how much money you will spend as there are limits to how much you can obtain in financial hardship.

Accommodation

Accommodation costs vary greatly in different regions of UK and depending on where in the region you live. City-centre living tends to be more expensive, but it may dramatically reduce travel costs. London is by far the most expensive place to live, with transport, rent and everyday expenses, such as drinks and cinema tickets being noticeably dearer.

Insurance

Endsleigh is recommended for students. See http://www.endsleigh.co.uk for more details. You’ll need to obtain two types of insurance:

  1. Contents insurance - this covers the value of your possessions while you are renting. If you are living in student accommodation this may be provided, however if you are living in private accommodation, this will definitely need to be taken out.
  2. Travel insurance - if you wish to travel to and from your home country (obviously you will!) and make trips outside the UK, you will need to buy travel insurance.

If you are undertaking an course less than six months in duration (such as a language course) you will also need to buy health insurance.

Utility Bills

If you are living in student accommodation, it is highly likely that your bills will be included as part of your rent. In private accommodation, the utility bills you will need to pay for include:

  1. Gas and electricity - if you are sharing a flat between 4 people (including yourself), gas and electricity will cost you approximately £25 a month each. You can pay either by direct debit, or pre-payment, and the amount that you pay will be dependent on where you live, your appliances, and how much you use.
  2. Water - water rates also depend on where you live, as well as whether you use a water meter, or pay water bills. The average bills is around £7.50 a month per person if you are sharing a flat between 4 people.
  3. TV licence - if you watch TV on a TV, laptop, etc., you will need to purchase a licence which currently costs £145.50 for the year. If you share private accommodation, this can be shared between your housemates, however if you live in self-contained accommodation you will need an individual licence. Go to www.tvlicensing.co.uk to buy it and for more information.
  4. Phone and internet - your internet provider may be restricted by local availability. Most providers require a British Telecom (BT) phone line in place beforehand, with the cheapest BT package currently costing £16 a month, with a £10.75 phone line charge. This can be shared by all the members of your flat, and often students choose to pay more for digital TV to be included in the package.
  5. Mobile phone - SIM cards can be bought on either a pay-as-you-go basis or contract. If you are going to use your phone more than occasionally, it is wiser to by a contract, with the cheapest tariffs costing around £16 per month. 

Other living expenses

Transport

It is not unusual to walk everywhere in Britain within an approximate 3 mile radius.  Walking saves money and our weather makes it ideal. However, public transport is efficient and reliable, and city centres will have the option of buses, trams, trains and underground services. These services, as well as night services, are also regarded as a safe option. If you know you are going to use public transport regularly, it will be cheaper to buy a weekly or monthly pass. The London underground currently costs £20 for a weekly student ticket in the centre of town. You might also think of investing in a bike; cycling in some British cities is very common and is acceptable everywhere, as well as being a good way to save money! Your university will have plenty of places for you to store your bike safely.  If you wish to travel around the country by train and plan to make a number of journeys, I’d advise you to buy a 16-25 railcard - http://www.16-25railcard.co.uk/ - which costs £28 a year, but gives you a third off all travel. 

Groceries

City centres tend to have smaller supermarkets, while the outskirts have larger stores at slightly cheaper prices. Eating in will cost you approximately £25 a week, however this depends on whether you are shopping at a small or large store and what store it is. Cheaper options include Lidl, Aldi and Asda, mid-range options include Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and more expensive options include Waitrose, and Marks and Spencer.

Clothes and other goods

You will find that clothes and other goods are comparable to prices in other countries, often cheaper, in fact, in terms of the strength of our currency. British people often use eBay and Amazon to buy their goods, as they are cheaper than in stores and often have no postage and packing charges.

Eating out

The university cafes may offer subsidised meals at a reasonable price. Lunch will cost you approximately £5 for a sandwich and salad, while supper will cost you about £15 for a 2 course meal (without alcohol) in a chain restaurant.

Other costs of studying

According to the 2008 NUS Student Experience Report, students spent on average £226 per year buying books, £193 on equipment and £162 on field trips.>

Below is an estimate of how much it will cost you to live in the UK per year:

 Types of CostsLiving in University AccommodationLiving in Private Accommodation
Monthly Costs Accommodation £417 (£3,007 for 31 weeks rent) £486 (£5,876 for 52 weeks rent)
  Mobile Phone £25 (£300 for 12 months) £25 (£300 for 12 months)
  Water - £7.50 (£90 for 12 months)
  Internet - £7.50 (£90 for 12 months)
  Gas & Electricity - £25 (£300 for 12 months)
  Transport £20 (180 for 9 months) £20 (180 for 9 months)
  Eating out and Entertainment £200 (£1,800 for 9 months) £200 (£1,800 for 9 months)
Yearly Costs TV £145.50 £36.50
  Contents Insurance £80 £80
  Study Costs £581 £581
  Travel Insurance check check
Total   £6,093.50 + travel insurance £9,333.50 + travel insurance