The Cost of Living as a Student in London

As the home of many internationally-renowned universities, London welcomes hundreds of thousands of students each year.

While the capital has much going for it, one aspect that can cause students to hesitate before sending off those applications is the higher cost of living.

Through careful planning and strict budgeting, you can enjoy a fulfilling university experience that allows you to achieve academic success and enjoy an active social life.


This should be one of your first ports of call as soon as you accept your place at a London university. Remember, this is somewhere you will be living all year, so it is important you are happy with your accommodation and leave enough time to make an informed decision.

Naturally, the cost of accommodation is elevated in London compared with other UK university cities, with the National Union of Students estimating an average increased rent spend of around £1,200 per year when compared with the rest of the UK.

London SkylineGetting around

You can register for a student Oyster card online and get a 30% discount on all your journeys throughout the year. To do so, you must be aged 18 or over, be living at a London address during term time and provide proof of your university acceptance. London caters very well for students in terms of discounts and special offers on public transport, with most favouring either buses or the London Underground.

  • Oyster cards must be ‘touched in’ and ‘touched out’ at the beginning and end of each trip, and can be topped up when necessary to ensure you have enough money to cover your journeys.
  • Of course, if you are living near your university you can always walk or cycle in.

Personal expenses

Student finance survival, © J Fry – Fotolia.com

This is really where your own budgeting will come into play, as how much you spend on food, drinks and socialising is completely down to you.

When you arrive at your accommodation, you should have a look around to find out where you will get the best value for money on your weekly shopping. Many people will already be aware of which supermarkets are cheaper and which are more expensive, and this correlation holds true in London as much as it does anywhere else.

As far as going out is concerned, as a general rule things will get more expensive the closer you get to the city centre. A night on the town or even going to the cinema can get very pricey, so it’s your choice whether you want to have the occasional fancy evening in Central London or opt for socialising more often but sticking to the cheaper areas.

Enjoying the London student experience

As you can see, it is impossible to put an exact figure on how much it costs to study in London because everyone’s experience is different. The main conclusion you can draw is that a lot of this is up to you and the choices that you make, and in that respect London is just the same as anywhere else.