Cost of Living in London as a student 2023/2024
09 September, 2022
8 mins read
Over the years, London has become one of the most famous educational destinations among local and international students. With a rising number of top-ranked universities, world-renowned learning institutions, vibrant student life, and a culturally diverse population, London has risen through the ranks of cities where you can study abroad. While London harbours a lot of pros, the main con for students in a new city is the finances. As one of the most expensive cities in the world, the cost of living in London has a reputation for being rather steep, so before you head out to study abroad in this renowned city, let us walk you through the cost of living in London as a student in 2023/2024, along with some saving tips, and how you could make it work on a budget!
Cost of Living in London for Students
The cost of living for students in London averages around a monthly rate of £1,500 per month. This should cover expenses like student accommodation rent, food, transportation, personal expenses, and leisure. This estimated amount, however, does not factor in the tuition fees for your program of choice at your university of choice. Below, we’ll be breaking down these costs for you, so you can better formulate a budget plan!
As an international student in London, the tuition fees may differ according to your chosen major, as well as your type of degree, whether it’s undergraduate or postgraduate. The average cost for undergraduate degrees in London is around £10,000 - £30,000 per year for full-time courses, with medical degrees being relatively more expensive. As for postgraduate degrees, a full-time master’s program can average around £10,000 - £13,000 per year, while laboratory and research-based programs go for about £14,000, and medical degrees often start at around £22,200 and can go up to £58,000 per year.
Travel and Transportation
London is a big city with several available means of transport for students to use to get around the city. Whether it is to get from their university to their London student accommodation, exploring the hidden spots in London, or even to go out and about with friends, there is always a way to get there! The underground and the bus are most commonly used by students. Other available means of transport could include the slightly more expensive option of hailing a cab, or the cheaper and eco-friendly option of cycling around the city. According to research and statistics, students in London spend about £43.30 per month on public transport, or around £11 a week.
As a student in London, the amount of money you pay for rent varies depending on several factors, including whether your accommodation is on-campus or off-campus, whether it’s a private let or a PBSA (Purpose-Built Student Accommodation), and what amenities and utilities are included at the property or in your bills. If you book your student accommodation in London with Casita, you’ll be expected to pay an average of £200 per week for an off-campus single room in a PBSA, other room options may cost more. If you opt to stay at an on-campus accommodation or a university hall, then your rent would average around £210 - £240 per week, with some universities charging slightly more than that. Depending on where you choose to live in London, rents in the city could go up to £500.
Stocking up on groceries is important, especially so you could meal-prep and remain on budget during your study period. There are several spots where you can get your groceries at reasonable prices all over London. The average monthly cost for groceries in London for a student is around £101, making the weekly grocery cost around £23.
Eating out in London is relatively expensive, and ups the cost of living for students in London rather drastically. The average cost of dining at a typical London restaurant or eatery would come to a total of £10 to £15. Eating out an average of 2-3 times a week would probably cost you an estimate of £30 to £45.
Leisure and Entertainment
The cost of living in London as a student is greatly affected by the vibrant student life in the city. There are plenty of things to do and places to see for students in London that are not exactly free. And while it is fun to explore and visit different parts of the city, it definitely comes at a cost. Among the things you could get up to in London, there are paid tourist attractions, public events, performances, going to the movies, clubbing, and attending festivals. The average amount you’re expected to pay for those activities per week is around £60.
Additional Study Expenses
Sadly enough, study expenses do not stop at tuition fees. You also have to consider textbooks, learning devices, software, and stationery. These are all pretty pricey, especially in London. The average cost for textbooks, for example, is depending on the field they cover, whether they’re hard or soft copies and whether you buy them new or secondhand. These study expenses could total around £40 - £50 per month.
How to Save Money as a Student in London
We’ve already established that London is rather expensive, and the cost of living in London as a student is not exactly on the affordable end of things. This is why savviness is a required skill during your study period in London. There are plenty of ways to manage your spending and live happily on a budget while in London. Below, are some of the ways through which you can easily achieve that!
Budgeting Is Your New Best Friend
Keeping all the numbers we’ve previously mentioned in mind, making a budget for your upcoming semester, or even the whole year, should be quite easy. Setting a fixed budget is a great way to save money, provided you stick to it! Factor in all your weekly expenses, from rent to food to entertainment, and set aside a weekly budget, then challenge yourself to stick to it, and even reward yourself if you happen upon a surplus!
Pick a Good Student Bank
There are many options for student banks and student bank accounts to choose from while in London. Your goal should be choosing the banks or accounts which offer a good 0% overdraft deal; you should avoid charges for your overdraft if possible, so make sure you do thorough research on the best banks, accounts, and deals.
Travel with Savviness
Being travel savvy is a great way to save money as a student in London. Your go-to means of transportation should be the tube or the bus, as they tend to be the fastest and the cheapest. Additionally, those particular means of transport offer certain student discounts that would further facilitate things for you! Investing in a Student Oyster Card is a smart way to go about saving money on travel and transportation. This card saves around 30% on your travel cards, as well as bus and tram tickets.
How about Those Discounts?
As a student in London, you will receive a university card, which is your ticket to an array of offers and discounts across different stores and restaurants. You can check with your university where your card can work, what discounts it grants you, and how you can make use of it to the fullest. University cards usually come in handy for grocery discounts, restaurants discount, and discounts on university supplies.
Smart Shopping Is in!
It is no secret that grocery shopping is a bit costly, especially on a student budget, and particularly in an expensive city like London. This is why you always need to shop smart! The key to doing so is to shop at grocery stores that offer student discounts, shop in bulk, and ditch pricey items that you do not use. Always compare brands to make sure you’re getting the most benefit at the lowest price. Time your grocery trips to times where offers are booming, like holidays or sale events, so you can get what you need at reasonable prices.
Cooking Is Fun!
Instead of eating out, you can save the weekly cost of that and invest it in a nice home-cooked meal, and still have some money to spare. We know your schedule as a student might not have enough time for you to cook every day of the week, but we’ve got the solution for you! Meal prep is a great way to save time, money, and energy. You can prepare your meals over the weekend and store them for the rest of the week. All you need to do afterwards is just take out your assigned meal for the day, heat it up, and enjoy! This tip will especially come in handy if you live in a self-catered student home.
Save your Energy!
Conserving energy plays a big role in saving your money and regulating your spending as a student in London. A few things you can do to ensure that your energy consumption isn’t that high are unplugging any unused appliances, turning the lights off when you don’t need them, wearing heavy clothes if it gets chilly, but not chilly enough to turn on the heater, and making sure not to leave anything on while you sleep or leave the house. Not only does save your money, but it also helps save the planet. So, double win!
Secondhand Books? Count Me in!
Another thing you can do to save money is to buy your textbooks secondhand or rent them from previous students. Textbooks are not cheap, however, they are easy to come by secondhand or to even borrow. Make sure to check your campus library, the on-campus noticeboards and those at your student accommodation, and the internet for anyone selling or renting the books you want for a cheaper, more reasonable price.
How about A Job?
Again, we are aware that your schedule may be a bit slammed as an international student in London. However, a job can be beneficial in more ways than one. While it will definitely add the benefit of an income that would help you with your monthly expenses, it will also serve as a great addition to your CV when applying for work after graduation. Additionally, the experience of meeting new people and brushing up on your soft skills and communication will certainly come in handy in the long run. Some of the student jobs you could apply for include on-campus jobs like being a tutor or a librarian, or off-campus jobs like being a barista or a server.
Entertain Yourself for Free
There is no hiding the fact that London has vibrant city life and busy nightlife; however, they come at a price. This does not mean that you can not enjoy yourself in London while on a budget! You can always make use of the London attractions that do not require a ticket or an entry fee, whether these attractions are museums, castles, art galleries, or waterside locations. Additionally, universities often hold free events for students, sometimes they hold concerts, get-togethers, fairs, and festivals, all of which would be either free or discounted, and you can fully enjoy yourself there with your uni mates!
Save on That Phone Bill
The average cost for your mobile phone bill could come up to a monthly sum of £40. A great way to save up on your phone usage bill is to rely on internet-based communication means. Contact your family back home using apps like FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype. Another handy tip would be to rely on your student accommodation or your university Wi-Fi, instead of your own data plan; this helps you invest in a cheaper plan and save some money.
As exciting as it is to live and study in a world-renowned city like London, one should always consider the amount of money paid in the process. The cost of living in London is not exactly cheap or affordable, but with a bit of planning ahead, budgeting, and a bunch of savvy tricks, you can live happily in London and still save money in the process. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and book your London student accommodation already!