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An Ultimate Guide: The Cost Of Living At University

An Ultimate Guide: The Cost Of Living At University
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So, you’ve got your place at university sorted and you’re ready to join thousands of other students for at least the next three years. But for many students living away from home, the cost of living is tight, even with the aid of student finance. Here, we’ve broken down the average cost of living away from home at university!

We’ve done the maths using to work out an average of how much you’re likely to spend on a monthly basis. We’ve ordered these facts into the most to the least expensive, so you’ll be able to see what is likely going to be the biggest monthly expense.


Rent will almost certainly be the biggest outgoing each month, and the average cost will vary depending on where you are studying. In your first year, you will more than likely be in halls managed by the University. For example, Teesside University’s accommodation can be as cheap as £232 per month, whereas rent in UCL’s halls can be upwards of £1000 per month.

In second and third year the majority of students move into private houses, which again will vary in price. Bristol’s rent prices are likely to be up to £600 per month, in comparison, Sheffield could be as little as £200 per month.

Fortunately, full-time students are exempt from paying council tax in rented property, which will save a student household thousands of pounds.

Recreation and Hobbies

Budgeting for socialising and pastimes obviously depends on your habits. Based on the average spending calculated by the ONS, the average person spends £128 a month on recreation. This includes things like the cinema, sports admissions, books, video games and even pet care.

The ONS found that an average adult spends £15 a month just on alcohol but for many students nights out form a big part of their social life so this is likely to be a lot higher. You then have to take into account the price of entry for nights out and potential taxis and the late night takeaway afterwards! These costs can all add up if you’re planning in going out out frequently.

It’s important that you don’t stop spending money on hobbies any sports as this is an opportunity to meet new people and take your mind off of life’s stressors. Just be mindful that excessive recreation will add up!


According to the Office for National Statistics, you’re likely to spend £80 a month on transport. This will obviously depend on the university you attend, for instance in a larger city like London you might need to get on the tube, but in a smaller city like Plymouth, a bike would suffice.

Travel costs are more likely to rise after you move out of halls after first year, as you need to travel to campus to attend lectures. Consider getting a 16-25 railcard, which only costs £30 and will save you a third of the cost of rail fares!

This average includes students who take a car to university, in case they want to drive home on weekends.

Food Shopping

According to the ONS, you’ll spend £67 a month on food, but it’s far more realistic to expect to spend around £80, not including alcohol. Food shopping is one of the costs that you can easily be cut by regretfully avoiding Waitrose and express stores, and buying non-brand items. Check out our blog for more great tips on saving money on food shops!

Utility Bills

Utility bills are often included with the price of rent, especially in halls. But if you pay for water, electricity and gas separately then it’s likely going to cost you around £40 per month. Staying on top of bills can be a bit of a challenge, fortunately, there are now many apps and services like Onedox that will help you keep on top of it all.

Use comparison websites to make sure you get the best deals!

Keep in Mind…

Though the figures may seem scary, a maintenance loan can help you cover most of your university fees. Your maintenance loan is usually paid in instalments around the beginning of a new term. The amount you receive depends on which university you attended and your parent’s household income. You can also ask your parents to loan you money if you’re running short one month or look into alternative forms of borrowing such as short term loans or credit cards.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics


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