The basics
THE UK: Student Finances

Student living costs in the UK

Read our guide to living costs for students studying in the UK...


A thriving global hub of business and culture, the UK is a popular study destination for international students. The only downside is that the UK isn’t exactly known for being cheap. Between tuition costs, airfares and start-up costs, studying abroad in the UK might seem a more and more distant possibility. We’ve broken down some realistic costs of living to stop you stressing about your finances and put you back on track to studying abroad in the UK.

Note: £1 = € 1.20 = US$ 1.64



Almost all universities in the UK offer students the chance to live on campus in residence halls. Prices differ greatly between cities, universities and even separate halls within a university. Halls have shared kitchens on each floor, and some provide breakfast and dinner from Monday-Friday. Utility costs depend on the institution but are often included in rental costs. It goes without saying that anything in London will be more expensive; but as with any city, there are always a number of off-campus and share-house options that might work out cheaper. 

To give you an idea of what you might pay, a single room in a hall at University College London costs £160.65 per week for a 39-week let, whilst sharing a double is £129.50. You’re also required to pay a £150 deposit at the start of your let. A room in a 3-6 bedroom flat at Queen Mary College will cost £166.76 per week, working out to be £4436.88 for the entire academic year, payable in May/June and including utilities and cleaning costs of bathrooms. Some universities will also offer share house options, and others might point you in the direction of external student agencies that specialise in student housing.

Accommodation for students London

Student housing London


Living costs

Student life brings on a number of additional living costs you’ll be unable to avoid. Here’s an idea of what you might expect to pay in the UK, depending on your needs:

  • Television licence (if you have a TV), ...£145.50 per year
  • Pre-paid SIM card, basic 3g package per month ...£10
  • Prepaid mobile local tariff, 1 minute, no discount or plan...£0.15
  • Basic utilities (if not included in rent), ...£147.87



Whilst different cities offer different travel card options, you’ll be most likely to use a top-up system that electronically deducts credit from a travel card for each single journey you take. In London, this takes the form of the Oyster card, with different fares depending on the time of day you travel and which zones you pass through. You can almost always get a student discount so be sure to check travel card websites for application procedures.

  • Oyster card, single fare, adult, zone 1 ...£2,20
  • Cash, single fare, adult, zone 1...£4.70
  • Oyster card, weekly fare, adult, zones 1&2 ...£31.40
  • Oyster card, weekly fare, student discount, zones 1&2... £21.20
  • 18+ student Oyster photocard...£10

Transport for London



The UK is a big place, and costs of food vary across cities and even between supermarket chains. On average however, feeding yourself for a modest price is completely doable.

  • Whole milk, 2.27L (four pints) ...£1.39
  • Loaf of white sandwich bread, 800g...£1.35
  • Chicken breast fillets, 460g...£4.50
  • Spaghetti, 500g ...£0.95
  • Coca-cola, 2L...£1.99
  • White rice, 1kg...£1.50
  • Eggs, free range, 12pk...£2.70
  • Olive oil, 1L...£3.75
  • Big Mac...£2.89


Misc. costs

Entertainment costs in big cities like London tend to be quite inflated. But if you plan your social calendar wisely there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your time in the UK to the full.

  • Movie ticket...£10
  • Pint of larger at a standard pub...£4
  • Cappuccino at a cafe...£2.50
  • Bottle of water, 1.5L...£1.05
  • Eating out, mid-range restaurant, 2 courses...£40
  • Bottle of wine, mid-range restaurant...£12


Now that you’ve got an idea of how much student life in the UK costs, why not browse courses in the UK and start planning your study abroad adventure.


Useful links:

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About Author

Monica Karpinski received her BA (Media and Communications) and Diploma in Modern Languages (French) from the University of Melbourne, Australia. An art and culture aficionado, in her spare time Monica enjoys film, reading and writing about art.


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