Cost of Living in the UK for International Students



Now, there's no need to worry. This blog won't drown you in a sea of mundane numbers and mind-numbing statistics. Instead, take a laid-back stroll through the realm of pounds and pence, exploring the ins and outs of living expenses in this beautiful land.

From sipping traditional English tea in cosy cafes to exploring the bustling streets of London or the breathtaking landscapes of Scotland, the UK has an array of experiences to offer. But let's face it, even with all the excitement, budgeting becomes a crucial part of the study abroad journey. So, this blog is all about UK living costs for international students, right from tuition fees to leisure expenses, that will help you make the most of your time while keeping your finances intact.

UK Living Cost

Being an international student in the UK, where managing your expenses becomes an integral part of your journey. From tuition fees to everyday expenditures, you'll find yourself handling it all on your own. But fret not! We're here to provide you with a sneak peek into the breakdown of costs you can expect, helping you navigate your financial adventure with ease. Buckle up! Let's take a closer look at the expenses that lie ahead and equip you with the knowledge you need to manage them effectively.

Tuition Fees

The first and foremost of UK living cost is understanding the financial aspect of your academic pursuit is crucial as an international student. Tuition fees in the UK vary depending on various factors, such as the university and the level of study you choose. For undergraduates, fees can range from £11,400 to £32,081. If you're pursuing postgraduate studies, expect fees between £6,500 and £51,360. For those eyeing an MBA, the fees can fall between £8,500 and £63,000, reflecting the value of this prestigious degree. As for research-oriented PhD programs, tuition fees typically range from £16,000 to £24,000.

Though tuition fees are a significant consideration, it's also important to explore scholarships, grants, and financial aid options that can ease the burden. Many universities offer specific scholarships for international students, so be sure to explore those opportunities.

Level of Study

Tuition Fees


£11,400 - £32,081


£6,500 - £51,360


£8,500 - £63,000

Research (PhD)

£16,000 - £24,000

Accommodation Expenses

When it comes to finding suitable accommodation, international students have several choices to consider. Let's take a closer look at the average costs per month, allowing you to plan your budget effectively.

If you opt for university residence, you'll find that the average monthly cost is around £727 in London and £515 in the rest of the UK. Living in university accommodation not only provides a convenient location but also offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in campus life and connect with fellow students.

Alternatively, private housing offers a different level of independence and flexibility. In London, the average monthly cost for private housing is approximately £848, while in the rest of the UK, it averages around £505. Private housing options range from shared apartments to studio flats, allowing you to create your own personal haven.

When making your accommodation choice, it's essential to consider factors such as location, facilities, and proximity to your university. Take into account your preferences, budget, and desired lifestyle to find the perfect fit.

Keep in mind that accommodation costs may vary based on the city, neighbourhood, and specific amenities offered. It's always wise to explore different options, compare prices, and consider additional expenses such as utilities, internet, and council tax.

Accommodation Type

Average Cost (per month)

University Residence (London)


University Residence (Rest of UK)


Private Housing (London)


Private Housing (Rest of UK)


Transportation Costs

You will have to take into account your travel expenses if you live away from your university. This can be anything from £10 per week, or more if you live in London. As using taxis would be quite expensive, you could opt for travelling apps and cards for bus and train travel and cut down on your expenses.

Many students use bus passes such as the FirstBus app or StageCoach app, which allows students to get day passes or as low as £90 per term up to £325 per year student bus card. Other than that, students could get the 18+ student oyster card which entitles them to a 30% discount off the Tube fares (mainly for students in London) or a railcard (outside London) in which students aged 16-25 years old could purchase a 1-year railcard for £30 or 3-year railcard for £70. As a student, you could make use of these privileges and cut down a lot on your overall expenses. 

Here’s the breakdown of travel costs for each city per month:


Average Monthly Costs











Food and Groceries Cost

As an international student who’s on a budget, when it comes to dining out, it's important to be mindful of your spending. On average, you can expect to allocate between £150 and £250 per month for meals at restaurants, cafes, and quick bites on the go. Exploring the diverse culinary scene can be a delightful part of your UK experience, but it's crucial to strike a balance between enjoying local cuisine and managing your budget responsibly.

To make your food budget stretch further, consider cooking your meals at home. Allocating around £100 to £150 per month for groceries allows you to shop at supermarkets or local grocery stores and prepare your own meals. This approach not only helps you save money but also provides an opportunity to explore your culinary skills and indulge in homemade dishes.

Planning your meals in advance, taking advantage of discounts and special offers, and being mindful of portion sizes can all contribute to effective budgeting. Additionally, joining supermarket loyalty programs can provide access to extra discounts and rewards, making your grocery shopping even more cost-effective.

It's worth mentioning that many universities offer on-campus dining options or student cafeterias, where you can find reasonably priced meals. These convenient alternatives can be particularly beneficial on busy days or when you prefer to dine with fellow students.

Healthcare Costs and Insurance

The healthcare system in the UK is known as the National Health Service (NHS), which provides medical care to residents, including international students. Understanding the healthcare system and having appropriate health insurance coverage is crucial for international students. 

Cost of Healthcare Insurance:

The health insurance cost may vary according to how long you will stay in the UK for your studies. As part of your visa application fees, you’ll need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). It will cost £235 or less if you are staying for six months or less. £470 per year if you are staying longer than a year. 

Healthcare System in the UK:

The NHS offers a comprehensive range of medical services, including general practitioners (GPs), hospitals, emergency care, and specialist treatments. It is important to register with a local GP as soon as you arrive in the UK to access primary healthcare services.

Importance of Health Insurance Coverage:

While the NHS provides comprehensive healthcare, it is highly recommended that international students obtain health insurance coverage. Health insurance offers additional benefits, including coverage for private healthcare, faster access to specialist services, and assistance with costs not covered by the NHS, such as repatriation or emergency medical evacuation.

Part-Time Job Opportunities

The UK offers a range of part-time job opportunities that can accommodate student schedules and provide financial support. Here are a few examples of part-time jobs often available to international students:

  • Retail Assistant
  • Hospitality and Catering
  • Tutoring and Academic Support
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Event Staff

Benefits of Working Part-Time

Working part-time while studying in the UK can bring several benefits. First and foremost, it helps supplement living expenses and provides financial independence. Earning an income allows students to cover personal expenses and transportation costs and even save for future needs.

Also, part-time jobs provide an opportunity to gain practical work experience and develop essential skills such as communication, teamwork, and time management. These experiences enhance employability and can be included on resumes or discussed during job interviews.

Financial Planning and Budgeting

  • Track Your Expenses: Start by tracking your expenses to understand where your money is going. Use apps or spreadsheets to record your spending, categorise it, and identify areas where you can cut back.
  • Create a Budget: Based on your tracked expenses, create a monthly budget that includes your income and all necessary expenses, such as rent, utilities, tuition fees, and transportation. Allocate a portion for savings and discretionary spending.
  • Prioritise Your Spending: Differentiate between needs and wants. Prioritise essential expenses and allocate money for discretionary items wisely. Be mindful of your spending habits and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Seek Student Discounts: Take advantage of student discounts offered by various retailers, transport services, and entertainment venues. Always carry your student ID card and inquire about available discounts.

Saving Money and Student Discounts

  • Transportation: Many transportation providers offer discounted fares for students. For example, you can get an 18+ Student Oyster Card in London, which entitles you to a 30% discount on tube fares. Outside of London, consider purchasing a Railcard for discounted train travel.
  • Entertainment: From movie theatres to museums, entertainment venues often offer discounted tickets for students. Keep an eye out for student nights, special promotions, and loyalty programs that offer reduced rates or exclusive deals.
  • Shopping: Numerous retailers offer student discounts, both in-store and online. Fashion brands, electronics stores, and even grocery chains may provide discounts when you present your valid student ID card.
  • Food and Dining: Restaurants, cafes, and fast-food chains often have student deals or loyalty programs that offer discounted or special meal options. Don't hesitate to inquire about available offers.
  • Fitness and Leisure: Many gyms, sports centres, and recreational facilities offer discounted membership rates for students. Stay active while saving money by taking advantage of these discounts.
  • Software and Technology: Companies like Microsoft, Adobe, and Apple often offer student discounts on software, laptops, and other tech products. 

Remember, student discounts may vary, so always carry your student ID card and inquire about available offers wherever you go. Additionally, consider signing up for student discount websites or apps that compile various discounts and deals for easy access.

By taking advantage of these student discounts, you can save money on transportation, entertainment, shopping, dining, and more. Every pound saved contributes to a more affordable and enjoyable student experience in the UK.

Now that most of the UK living costs for international students are covered in this blog, it’s important to keep in mind that these costs may vary according to each student's lifestyle choices and irrespective of where they live and study in the UK. 

Want more tailored information about studying in the UK? Well, AECC is your guide! Our counsellors are experts and can help you with any queries regarding your study abroad journey. 

Contact us today!


       1. What are the typical expenses that international students need to consider while living in the UK?

International students in the UK should consider expenses such as tuition fees, accommodation, transportation, food and groceries, personal and leisure activities, and health insurance.

       2. How much can I expect to spend on accommodation as an international student in the UK?

The cost of accommodation in the UK varies depending on the location and type of housing. On average, international students can expect to spend between £515 and £848 per month for university residences or private housing, depending on whether they are located in London or other parts of the UK.

       3. Are there any financial aid options available to international students to help with their living expenses?

Some universities and organisations in the UK offer scholarships, grants, or bursaries specifically designed to assist international students with their living expenses. It's recommended to research and inquire about these opportunities directly with your chosen institution or explore external scholarship options.

      4. How much should I budget for monthly food and groceries as an international student in the UK?

On average, international students should budget between £100 and £150 per month for food and groceries. This estimate allows for a mix of cooking at home and occasional dining out, depending on individual preferences.

      5. What are the transportation options available for international students in the UK, and how much do they cost?

International students in the UK have various transportation options, including buses, trains, and the London Underground (in London). The cost of transportation depends on factors such as the distance travelled and the location. Students can save money by using discounted student travel cards or passes, such as the 18+ Student Oyster Card in London or railcards for travel outside London.

      6. How can I effectively manage my overall living expenses as an international student in the UK?

To manage living expenses effectively, it's essential to create a budget and track your spending. Consider making use of student discounts, cooking meals at home, utilising public transportation, and exploring affordable leisure activities. Additionally, it's wise to plan ahead, take advantage of cost-saving opportunities, and seek advice from student support services provided by your university.

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