How to Manage the Cost of Studying in the UK?

When choosing where to study abroad for your undergraduate or post-graduate degree programme, the United Kingdom is the first choice for many. The United Kingdom has been considered one of the most popular destinations for international students for several decades. The first question that crosses your mind when considering studying in the UK is, “How to Manage the Cost of Studying in the UK?”

The cost of living in studying in the UK is one of the most crucial factors for international students to give special attention to. Managing living costs could be a daunting task for various international students; that’s why we have prepared this guide to help them in their journey and give them a clear sense of direction to start ahead.

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First things first, all international students should start out by mapping out an outline of what costs they will have to bear during their study programme. This will give them an idea of what their monthly budget will look like. Divide and conquer! To give proper structure to your monthly budget, start off by categorizing all your costs and expenses. We have laid it all out in six broad categories. Let’s take a look at each one of them and see what costs will be incurred by international students in the UK.

1. Accommodation Costs in the UK

Accommodation costs for international students are subjective to the type of accommodation they go for and the city they will live in. Major metropolitans like London, are costlier than smaller cities and towns.

Average accommodation costs in the UK:
Average Monthly Costs London Other Cities
University Residence £700-800 £500-550
Private Housing £800-900 £500-600
Utility Bills £45-50 £40-50

International students in the UK can live either in their university dorms or residences or rent private or shared apartments. Most UK universities offer on-campus accommodation for all international students. This has to be the most preferred and economically feasible option for international students. Moreover, going for on-campus residency adds convenience for students as their universities are just a walking distance away, and they get to save on transportation costs too. You will primarily be given the option to live with a roommate, or if you get lucky, you might even get a private room with a bathroom attached. Various universities include food and utility costs within accommodation only, which saves you a lot of time, money, and the constant hassle of chasing after bills.

For students who can afford to live independently, private or shared apartments are best suited to fit their needs. If you opt for a shared private rental, it will still be very cost-effective compared to living alone and enjoying privacy. When you rent a room or apartment with a friend/university mate, it will save you tone’s of money and allow you to socialize and bond with other people. International students should also consider council tax in their monthly budget planning. Council Tax in the UK is the cost associated with waste management and maintenance. International students are supposed to pay critical attention to council tax and other tax-related expenses. You can also request your local council to offer your discounted rates.

2. Transport Costs in the UK

After accommodation, transport costs are the second most important cost to consider in the monthly budget for international students. Similar to accommodation, transport costs also vary from city to city and depending on the mode of transport that you prefer to use. Walking and cycling are the most feasible ways to go for transport, but this only applies to students living on campus or in close proximity to the university’s vicinity. Buses and trains are the most common mode of transport for most international students. Public transport is easily affordable, and students are often given additional discounts. A smart way to go about this is to get your railcard made if you wish to reduce the overall transport cost. It will be best advised to avoid frequent use of taxis or cabs as they tend to be more expensive and unaffordable for many international students. Using travel cards for intercity is also something students should definitely take advantage of if they wish to save money in the longer run.

Here is an overview of the average transport costs based on each city:
City Average Monthly Transport Costs
London 55-60 £
Manchester 45-50 £
Birmingham 45-50 £
Liverpool 45-50 £
Leeds 40-45 £

3. Food Costs in the UK

There are no food costs involved for international students who opt for on-campus accommodation, or it’s a very minimal amount. On the other hand, students going for private rentals have to bear all food-related expenses themselves. To better manage your food expenses, grocery cards are highly beneficial. We will advise all international students to do their own research with locals nearby to get useful insights related to grocery items, daily or weekly meal plans, etc.

Dining out on a regular basis is not very economical for students, so it’s better to do it once in a while only. The best and most cost-effective option is to prepare food at home. To give you an overview of what your average meal plan would cost, here is a list of staple grocery items with their cost and other details.

Item Quantity Price
Bread 1 pack 0.71 £
Milk 1.13 L 0.81 £
Chicken 300 g 1.57 £
Eggs 6 1.51 £
Rice 1 kg 1.51 £
Cooking Oil 1 L 1.11 £
Water 1.5 L 0.81 £

4. Cost of Entertainment in the UK

International students need to include entertainment costs in their monthly budget plan as it is impossible for them to survive without them. You need an outlet other than studies to keep yourself busy. Other than that, Wi-Fi, SIM, and TV-related costs will also fall under the entertainment category in your monthly budget. There are various discount offers and mobile service providers to choose from, so do thorough research before investing in a SIM or mobile data plan. You can apply the same strategy when picking a Wi-Fi connection. Here is a list of the average costs of entertainment sources:

Connectivity Average Monthly Cost
Pre-paid SIM package 10-15 £
TV License 156-160 £
TV + Wi-Fi package 50-55 £
Call Costs 0.15-0.5 £
Netflix 5-14 £

5. Miscellaneous Costs and Expenses

Even though some people do not consider it in their monthly budgets, for international students living in the UK, miscellaneous expenses are really important. There will always be some extra expenses apart from food, accommodation and transport. A major chunk of these expenses will be related to clothes, household items, toiletries, stationery and other day-to-day expenditure. Review the costs mentioned below carefully and include them in your monthly budget as per requirement:

Miscellaneous Items Once Off Cost
Clothes 30-35 £
Household Items 30-35 £
Toiletries 20-25 £
Stationery 20-25 £
Insurance 50-55 £

Closing Thoughts

Now that you have an idea of the costs of living and studying in the UK for international students, start making your monthly budget plan. This will give you a clear picture of what to expect and where to draw a line if you go over your budget. Keep this monthly plan as your benchmark for all costs and expenses to ensure that you steer away from getting yourself into any sorts of loans or other liabilities. If you are still struggling with managing the costs of studying in the UK, we will be glad to assist you. Get in touch with our experts for professional advice and consultation.


How you will manage your expenses in UK?

These are the top money-saving tips you can follow to save money while studying in the UK.
● Vigilant Budgeting.
● Smart Food Shopping.
● Travel Cheap.
● Avail Students Discounts.
● Shared and Communal Cooking.
● Thrifty Shopping.
● Pay Bills When Due.
● Spend Less on Accommodation and Calls.

What should be in a monthly budget UK?

Expenses and income are broken down in detail in a budget paper. Everything from your mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, and gas should be factored in. Make it as precise as you can down to your morning latte.

How much money can a student carry to UK?

If you are travelling between Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales) and a place outside of the UK, you are required to disclose any cash amounting to £10,000 or more to UK customs. Even if each member of your party is not carrying more than £10,000, you must make a statement if you are travelling as a group.

Which city in UK is cheapest for international students?

According to the NatWest 2021 study, with its 60% share of green space, Sheffield is the most reasonably priced major city in the United Kingdom. In terms of both education and entertainment, the city is often recognised as providing the best value. The city is also home to some of the country’s best and least expensive educational institutions.