Living costs for international students in the UK

Living costs for international students in the UK

Living costs for international students in the UK
Rosmit Gyawali

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 place in the world, some living expenses in some UK cities are more than living expenses in others. 

Some UK cities like London are costly, so you must be 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. It 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, accommodation, food, and miscellaneous costs, and there are hidden costs to manage as well. 

Is living in the UK expensive?

Living in the UK can be pretty 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 look at the various costs in detail.

UK Travel and Travel expenses

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

Every month, 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 some money if you get discounted bus passes or railcards. 

However, to use that benefit, students must progress in their studies and attendance in the institution. Then only they can approve that facility to comply. From zone 1-9, students can use tapping ‘Pay As You Go Oyster Card’ every week or monthly basis cards to travel on the buses, DLR, London Overground, Tram, Underground Tube, 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. However, 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 meals.

Besides the residence halls, you can rent your 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, 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 bright and within budget. If you like eating out often and opt for takeaways, you could spend around £200 on the food, which could be pretty 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, including 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. Most companies charge a base of £5 per week for standard DSL in the UK for internet usage. 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, including purchasing film tickets that cost around £8- £9 and having a glass of beer, which can cost about £3. So, if you like partying around, you should look for free access and special offers or discounts for students, reducing 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 well-being 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 high living costs in the UK. The total living costs per month, excluding tuition fees, are estimated to be 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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