Living costs for international students in the UK

Living costs for international students in the UK

Aditee NeupaneWed Nov 11 2020

Living costs for international students in the UK

As an international student, it can be quite tricky to precisely estimate how much money you will need to live and study in the UK. Just like any other places in the world, some living expenses in some UK cities are more than living expense in others. 

Some UK cities like London are known to be very expensive, so it’s important that you are well aware of all the costs and have your budget prepared accordingly. A student's life in the UK is diverse and filled with opportunities. 

For undergraduate programs, the cost can lie anywhere from £10,000 to £18,000 per year and can be higher for postgraduate programs depending on the institution you choose to study in and the courses. Besides your tuition fees, there are other living expenses to consider like travel expenses, accommodation costs, food expenses, miscellaneous costs and there are hidden costs to manage as well. 

Is living in UK expensive?

Living in the UK can be quite expensive, but it also depends on where you choose to live and study, your lifestyle and your spending habits. It is recommended to keep the costs as low as possible and save up during the initial years to sustain your student life

Comparatively, living costs are lower in the North of the UK than in the South regions. London is known to be the most expensive city where the UK Visa and Immigrations require you to have a budget of at least £1,265 per month to study in London. So, let’s break down the living costs and have a look at the various costs in detail.

UK Travel and Travel expenses

Depending on how far or close you live to your university or college, your travel expenses may vary. If you live far away from your university or college, you will need to maintain a budget for travelling, and you can expect to spend around £10 per week or more if you live in cities like London.

 On a monthly basis, the travelling costs are expected to be around £45-£50 for a monthly travel card. Students are given discounts and special rates on buses and trains by their age group, and you can save yourself some money if you get the discounted bus passes or railcards. 

However, to use that benefit students must progress on their studies and attendance in the institution then only they can give the approval for that facility to comply. From zone, 1-9 students can use tapping ‘Pay As You Go Oyster Card’ on a weekly basis or monthly basis cards to travel on the buses, DLR, London Overground, Tram, Underground Tube, The Emirates Airline, National Rail services to the destinations which are most probably expensive in London 1-6 zones, but you can still use the same Oyster card for London buses and undergrounds from 6-9 zones whose fare/charges are little less expensive than in London. 


We know that accommodation is the biggest concern for most students since it is a tough decision to make but know that the UK has numerous accommodation options and your costs will vary greatly depending on what type of accommodation you choose and your location. 

You can opt for University accommodation for your initial years when they provide halls of residence where you can share spaces with other students or get private rooms. On-campus accommodations can cost anywhere from £50 to £80 per week depending on your university. These have catering facilities, or you can choose to cook your own meals.

Besides the halls of residence, you can rent your own space if you don't feel like living on the campus’s arrangement and facility. But you will need a group of 4-6 people to hunt for a suitable place and keep the monthly rent as low as possible by sharing costs because the rental costs are too high to handle alone for a student. Rentals can start from £35 per week and can go much higher than that. 


When it comes to food and grocery shopping, try and spend wisely within your budget because sometimes our cravings can get out of control. You can expect to pay about £25 to £30 per week on food supplies, but again this varies depending on your spending patterns, and you can save much more if you shop smart and within budget. If you like eating out often and opt for takeaways you could be spending around £200 on the food itself which could be quite expensive. 


These include the household bills you will need to pay if you rent a house or flat and can cost you around £32 to £40 per month which includes water, heating and electricity. Your telephone bill (landline) costs around £10 to £12 per month and mobile phone bills are about £17 to £20 per month depending on your usage. For internet usage, most companies charge a base of £5 per week for standard DSL in the UK. For on-campus accommodation, Wi-Fi is most likely included in the fees. 


Student life needs some refreshment as well, and you will want to spend your leisure time having fun around the city. So you will need to include this part in your budgeting as well, and you can set aside some money for fun activities which includes purchasing film tickets which cost around £8- £9 and having a glass of beer can cost about £3. So, if you like partying around then you should look for free access and special offers or discounts for students, which will reduce the costs. 


In this part, we can include all the study materials students need to purchase like books, notepads, paper and other stationery items which cost around £5- £7 per week depending on usage. Other costs include health services and wellbeing which can be around £13- £15 per month. You might want to go out around the city and shop for clothing which can cost you around £50- £70 a month, but it all depends on your spending habits as these figures can be much lower for some. 


These figures are roughly calculated, but they will guide you in estimating your major costs for living in the UK. The total living costs per month excluding tuition fees are estimated to be anywhere around £850- £1000 per month which depends on the city you choose to live in and the UK Visa and Immigration requires you to have this monthly budget.

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