Student Life – Budgeting for Living Costs

Navigating the financial aspects of student life can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time living away from home. Understanding and planning for your living costs is crucial to ensure you make the most of your university experience without the added stress of financial troubles. In this article, we will explore the average living costs for students and provide some practical tips on how to budget effectively.

Piggy bank with academic cap on top of books

Accommodation Costs

One of the most significant expenses for students is accommodation. Depending on your university’s location, the cost can vary significantly. For instance, students in London can expect to pay considerably more than those studying in other parts of the UK. On average, student rent outside London is around £126 per week, whereas in London, it can be upwards of £182 per week. It’s important to consider whether utilities such as water, gas, electricity and internet are included in your rent, as these can add an extra £50-£70 per month to your budget.

Food and Groceries

Food is another essential expense that requires careful budgeting. On average, students spend about £100 a month on groceries. Shopping smartly, such as buying in bulk, choosing supermarket own-brands and taking advantage of student discounts, can help you keep this cost down. Cooking at home rather than eating out can significantly reduce your food expenses. Meal prepping and planning your weekly meals in advance can also ensure you stick to your budget.


Transportation costs can vary depending on your mode of travel and distance from your university. Students who live on campus may have minimal transportation costs, while those living further afield might need to budget for public transport or fuel. On average, students spend around £50 per month on transportation. Investing in a student travel card or pass can provide significant savings on bus and train fares. Additionally, cycling is a cost-effective and healthy alternative if feasible.

Course Materials and Supplies

Course materials, including textbooks, stationery and specialised equipment, are another necessary expense. Depending on your course, this could range from £20 to £50 per month. Opting for second-hand books, utilising the university library and sharing resources with classmates can help minimise these costs. Some universities also provide access to free online resources which can be a valuable alternative.

Socialising and Entertainment

Balancing your academic commitments with social activities is an essential part of the student experience. However, socialising can quickly become expensive if not managed properly. On average, students allocate around £60 per month for socialising and entertainment. To stick to your budget, consider free or low-cost activities such as university-hosted events, joining societies and exploring local attractions. Take advantage of student discounts for cinema tickets, gym memberships and other leisure activities.

Personal Care and Health

Personal care, including toiletries, haircuts and health-related expenses, can amount to about £20-£30 per month. It’s important to budget for these to ensure you maintain your wellbeing. Many universities offer free or subsidised health services, so take advantage of these resources to manage any health-related costs effectively.

Miscellaneous Expenses

Lastly, it’s wise to allocate some of your budget to miscellaneous expenses. This could include unexpected costs such as course trips, emergency repairs or replacing broken items. Setting aside a small amount each month, say £20-£30, can provide a financial cushion for unforeseen circumstances.

Tips for Effective Budgeting

  1. Track Your Spending: Keep a detailed record of your expenses to identify areas where you can cut back.
  2. Set a Budget: Determine how much you can afford to spend each month and stick to it.
  3. Use Budgeting Tools: There are numerous apps and tools available to help you manage your finances effectively.
  4. Look for Discounts: Always take advantage of student discounts and deals.
  5. Plan for the Future: Try to save a little each month to build an emergency fund.

Managing your finances as a student can be challenging, but with careful planning and budgeting, it’s entirely achievable. At Nicholas Humphreys estate agents, we understand the unique financial pressures faced by students. If you’re looking for affordable accommodation, our team is here to help.