Friends laughing and chatting in cafe

Living costs in the UK

In addition to tuition fees, your other main cost is living expenses. Living in the UK is generally good value for money. It is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and so the standard of living is high

However, coming to the UK is still going to be a major investment for you and, like all students, you will have to learn to manage your money successfully to get the most out of your time here and not to fall into debt.

London and the southeast of England are going to be the most expensive areas to live in with some of the larger northern cities, like Edinburgh, Manchester and Leeds, coming close behind.

Summary of expenses

You should allow around £10,000–£12,000 a year for your living expenses. Here are some of the things that you should budget for and their average prices:

  • Student accommodation: £100 per week.
  • Bills (except in halls of residence, where they are included in the rent): average is £21 per week.
  • Food/household shopping: £30–£33.
  • Clothing: average is £12 per week.
  • Household goods (including laundry): average is £8–£12 per week.
  • Course costs: books, stationery, any specialist equipment, photocopying of course materials – average is £32 per week.
  • Travel: this will vary a lot depending on where you are living and how much you travel around the UK – average outside London is £15 per week; inside London £18.
  • Social activities: average is £38.

Major expenses

Accommodation and bills

Your largest expense, after tuition fees, will be accommodation. Many places will expect you to pay a deposit of one month’s rent. You get this back when you leave minus the cost of repairing or replacing any breakages from during your stay. Costs per month range from:

  • self-catering halls of residence £180 to £360
  • catered halls of residence £320 to £400
  • private-sector room in shared house/flat £200 to £380.

See the accommodation article for more details about these types of housing.

If you are in private lodgings, you will also have to pay bills for your use of utilities, such as electricity and gas. This will be about £100 a month.

You may also have to pay Council Tax. Council Tax is set by the local authority to pay for rubbish collection, the police, the fire brigade and other similar services. If you live in halls or a private dwelling where everyone is a full-time student then you will be exempt from paying this, but if not the cost of the Council Tax for your house or flat will need to be paid by those living there.

The International Student Calculator will help you to plan and manage your money for your studies in the UK.


Food and household shopping, apart from in catered halls, is about £100 to £120 a month. Try to make savings by buying in bulk with any other students you live with.


Student unions provide subsidised drinks, food and entertainment, such as DJs, bands and quiz nights.

Off-campus prices are higher, so many students stay on campus for this reason, but if you do then you will not find out very much more about what the rest of the country is like!

On graduation

You need to have enough money for continual accommodation, whether you are going home or staying in the UK, transport if you are going home, and some universities charge a small fee for providing a physical record of your degree. You may also have to pay for gown hire and any professional photographs you may want taken.

Think you may need a part-time job during your study? Find out more about working in the UK during your studies.

Image credit: avemario