So you’ve just got your place confirmed for uni in London… It’s a super exciting time, not only because it’s the first stage on your career ladder, but you’re also moving to one of the world’s most exciting cities as well.
Of course, there are lots of things to plan for before you make the big move, but one thing you’ll want to do is to understand the cost of living in the UK capital for students.
No one is ever going to say that it’s cheap to live and study in London, but with a little bit of careful budgeting, not to mention some top insider tips, you really can reduce your monthly outgoings by a substantial amount.
When you’re working out the amount of money you’re going to need on a monthly basis, it’s first necessary to determine essential costs.
These break down like this:
- Accommodation: because we all need somewhere to live
- Travel: unless you live in halls of residence, you’re likely to have to spend money to get to college or uni on a daily basis
- Utility bills: especially if you’re going to be living in privately rented accommodation
- Insurance: for your stuff (and this is something you might want to consider even if you’re living in halls, as opposed to rented accommodation)
- Study materials
- Mobile phone, Internet, and technology: because being online to research is an essential part of your study
- Entertainment: this not only includes going out, but things such as a TV license if you plan on having a television or watching shows online
- Miscellaneous: clothes, toiletries, etc.
This is going to be your biggest outgoing, whether you choose to live in halls or residence or privately rent accommodation. On average, hall accommodation will set you back around £600 per month in London.
This is comparable to renting a room in a house, or grouping up with friends to rent a flat. Your university will be able to advise on their own residences. For private rentals, good places to look are Easy Room Mate, Spare Room, Gum Tree, Zoopla, and Right Move.
Travel in London is easy, thanks to the wonderful bus and train network provided by Transport For London. Be sure to get an Oyster Card, as this clever smart card will group together all your journeys in a day and ensure that you pay the lowest price. Students pay 30% less on transport prices in London, so be sure to get your student card from the uni as soon as you arrive.
Other choices of travel include cycling – a great cheap option that keeps you fit as well – and you don’t even need to purchase your own bike, as you can use the London Santander Bike sharing scheme for a nominal fee whenever you choose.
On average, budget around £10-£30 per week on travel, depending on how far away from your school you live.
The amount you shell out on a monthly basis for utility bills will depend on your choice of accommodation. In halls and for those renting a room in a shared house, utility bills are usually included in your rent.
For those who privately rent, you’ll often find that you’re responsible for paying the gas, electricity, water, council tax, etc., and you should budget at around £40-£90 per month for these.
If you do rent privately and have to set up utilities, be sure to check that you’re getting the best deals from the various companies on offer. This can easily be checked on independent price comparison websites such as U Switch and Money Saving Expert.
Your stuff is precious, and it’s likely that you’ll have expensive items such as a laptop and mobile phone. If you live in privately rented accommodation, then it’s essential to take out contents insurance to protect your valuables.
Even if you’re sharing a room or living in halls of residence, you should consider protecting the things you own. You can compare different student insurance at Go Compare and Money Supermarket, but in general, budget at around £8-£10 per month for good coverage.
Books, stationary, printing, etc. can all prove additional expenses, so budgeting to spend around £20-£40 per month on these is wise. One top tip is to scan study documents rather than print them, and save them to your hard drive. That allows you easy access and saves on the costs that all universities charge students to photocopy or download as a hard copy.
Mobile Phone, Internet, and Technology
Of course, you’ll have access to the Internet whilst at university, but what about when you’re studying at home? You’ll probably want to have either a contract or pay as you go smart phone and/or tablet that allows you to go online whenever you want from any location. There are many different providers in the UK, and once again the website USwitch is a good place to start your search for the best deal.
For your mobile phone costs, budget at around £20-£40 per month, and for Internet for an additional appliance, you’ll want to budget around the same.
Going to uni isn’t all about the studying. It’s also about the awesome student lifestyle that you’re about to discover. Students are well catered to by the entertainment industry, and there’s always deals aplenty for club nights, cinema, theatre, restaurants, etc.
Always carry your student card with you, as showing this in a multitude of locations will see pounds slashed off your bill. In general, if you allow between £60-£100 per month to spend on entertainment, then that should suffice. This will include the cost of a TV licence (£12 per month) if you intend to have one in your room or house.
This covers items such as clothing, presents, any over the counter medications you might need, toiletries, etc. If you budget around £40-£80 per month, this should be plenty, and you’ll soon find out the student friendly (and friendly prices) places to shop, such as Primark, Poundland, and low price supermarkets (Lidl and Aldi) where your money will go even further.
In addition to all the above, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to get part time work in the city. Not only does this make meeting the monthly bills a little easier, but it looks great on your CV as well.