Cost of living in London as a student
The cost of living in London can be significantly higher than the rest of the UK. This includes accommodation, groceries, travel and the cost of a night out.
As the home of many internationally renowned universities, London welcomes hundreds of thousands of students each year. While the capital has a lot going for it, the higher cost of living can put some students off.
However, through careful planning and strict budgeting, you can still enjoy a fulfilling university experience in one of the best cities in the world. Living in London can be affordable if you know how.
Where you'll live should be one of your first considerations when you accept your place at a university. The cost of accommodation is elevated in London, with the National Union of Students (NUS) estimating an average increased rent spend of around £1,200 per year when compared with the rest of the UK.
The cost of housing in London varies depending on the area you choose, with furnished accommodation in an expensive area costing around £2,500 per month and a furnished studio flat in an average area costing around £1,200 per month.
Many of London’s top universities are in central London, so living in an average area can incur extra travel costs. It may be worth looking at university halls, at least for the first year. This will still be more expensive than other parts of the country at £178 per week on average, but significantly cheaper than private rented accommodation.
Remember that you can apply for a maintenance loan to help you with these living costs. How much you get willl depend on your household income. Due to London's inflated rent prices, students living away from home in London can borrow more money than others. These students can borrow up to £12,382 in the 2021/22 academic year.
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.
You can register for a student Oyster card online to 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.
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're living near your university you can always walk or cycle in, even receiving a 20% student discount on Londons hire bikes. You should be able to find this and many other discounted offers at your freshers' week or on the NUS website.
How much you spend on food, drinks and socialising is completely down to you, but to get the most out of your time and money, budgeting is important.
When you arrive at your accommodation, you should look around to find where you'll get the best value on your weekly shopping. Many of the cheaper supermarkets where you live will also be relatively cheaper in London too.
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 out, 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.
Discount code websites and checking out city listings can help you find affordable, and sometimes free, nights out.