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Budgeting and cost of living

When thinking of studying internationally, one of the first questions students ask is how much it will cost. Your living expenses will vary depending on what kind of accommodation you are planning to stay in and what kind of spending patterns you have.

The information on this page will help you plan your budget, whether you are coming for a semester, a year or three years.

If you have any questions regarding financial planning for the upcoming semester or year, please do contact us at or call us on +44 (0)20 7096 5787.

Monthly costs

The prices calculated below are broken down as monthly costs. Most students will be somewhere in between the lower and upper range on their spending.

When working out what your budget is make sure to save money by looking for student deals!

Please note: the costs listed do not include your tuition fees.

Minimum and maximum suggested budgets for students in University accommodation
 Lower price rangeUpper price range
Catered accommodation £735 (twin room) £1150 (single en-suite)
Food £40 £220
Internet** Included Included
Mobile phone £10 £50
Clothes £30 £300
Transport £20 £150
Social activities £50 £250
Total £885 £2,120

* One academic year typically consists of 9 months, from September to May.
** This is to cover lunch, as breakfast and dinner are included in your meal plan.

Meal plan

All room prices include 14 meals per week during term time only, which are taken as seven evening meals, five breakfasts and two brunches at the weekend.


Rooms are cleaned weekly by University cleaning staff.


Essential furniture is provided and usually consists of a wardrobe, drawers, desk and chair.


A duvet and pillow are provided, however, you will need to bring a duvet cover and pillowcase.

Minimum and maximum suggested budgets for students in private accommodation
 Lower price rangeUpper price range
Rent in private accommodation* £700 £1500
Food £180 £350
Internet** £20 £80
Mobile phone £10 £45
Clothes £30 £300
Transport £50 £250
Social activities £50 £250
Total £1,040 £2,780

*You will have to pay a deposit when renting private accommodation. If you are renting through an agent you may also need to pay agency fees.
** When signing up for internet be sure to compare several options, as many of them require you to sign for a certain amount of time with high termination fees.

Below are a few examples of what prices to expect for leisure activities:

  • Student cinema ticket: £8-15
  • Restaurant dinner: £15-45
  • A glass of wine: £4-8
  • A pint of beer: £3-8 (average £6 in London)
  • Musical show tickets: £15-90
  • A ride on the tube: £4
  • A bus ticket: £1.75
  • All day travel: £13.50
  • A bottle of Coca-Cola: £2.25
  • A bottle of water: £0.60-2
  • A loaf of bread: £1-2.50
  • A litre of milk: £1.30
  • A Snickers bar: £0.80
  • 4 rolls of toilet paper: £2
  • 1kg of rice: £0.50-2.20
  • A latte from Starbucks: £3.50

Additional costs to consider

If you are coming to the UK on a student visa you need to show that you have enough money to support yourself each month. See the UKCISA website for up-to-date information on requirements. Please also remember that you need to allocate enough money for your flights. St Mary’s offers free airport pick-up on an appointed day before the start of the semester. If you arrive outside of that date, you can pre-book a local taxi to St Mary’s for around £45 from Heathrow Airport.

If you’ll be in the UK for less than six months, be sure to factor in the cost of private health insurance. If you’ll be in the UK for more than six months, you will pay for UK healthcare as part of your visa application through the NHS surcharge (£470 per year). This gives you full access to the National Health Service.

To begin your university life there are some things you might need to buy upon arrival in the UK. It is important that you budget for these things as one-off costs in your first month.

Start-up costs to consider might include:

Temporary accommodation

Varies from about £60-120 per night.

Deposit for accommodation

This is usually equivalent to four or six weeks’ rent. Landlords may sometimes also require students to pay large amounts of rent in advance, normally up to six months.

Agent fees

When renting private accommodation from agents they will often charge an agent fee for their services. You may also need a UK-based guarantor. The company Housing Hand can provide you with this service for a fee, which can be divided into instalments.


All student accommodation comes furnished, but you can choose to rent furnished or unfurnished if you’re opting for private accommodation. If you are renting without furniture this is something you need to budget for.

TV license

If you have a TV with a receiver, you will require a TV licence on an annual basis (approximately £160).

Getting around London can be expensive. If you’ll be travelling to the city centre regularly, you may benefit from an 18+ Student Oyster Photocard (£20), which gives you 30% off your travels.

Another option is the 16-25 Railcard (£30), which reduces off-peak rail fares by a third. You can add this railcard to your Oyster card to extend this discount to off-peak travel on the London Underground and the Docklands Light Railway.