Studying abroad is a life changing experience, but being so far from home means you’ll want to prepare as much as possible beforehand. Once you’ve found your academic establishment and chosen your course, the next step is to think about your finances and start planning for the year ahead. During this guide we’ll discuss how much budget is needed, and what to be aware of to live as an international student in London.
How much money do you need?
In addition to the course and tuition fees, you’ll also be expected to show proof that you can support yourself financially throughout the year. You’ll be expected to put aside a minimum of £1,265 per month by the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) for students studying in London. This money can be put towards rent / accommodation, food, activities and transport.
When you apply for your Tier 4 visa (a key part of the process when studying higher education as an international student in London) you will have to present proof that you have £1,265 for each month of your studies (which works out at a maximum of 9 months). If you’re studying for the maximum 9 months, when totalled up, this means you’ll need to save up £11,385 at the time of receiving your visa.
Is £1,265 enough money per month to live in London?
£1,265 is the minimum amount required to receive your visa, but you may want to have more money with you. The student lifestyle is much more than lectures and studying in your student halls, and you’ll want to ensure you have money for socialising, transport and activities too. There is so much to do in London, and you’ll want to make the most of your time here.
Below we’ve outlined some of the monthly expenses you can expect, and roughly how much they’ll cost, so you’re aware of what to pay in London.
How should you budget as an international student in London?
The first thing to think about when setting a budget as an international student, is your accommodation. This will be your main outgoing during the academic year, likely costing 60-80% of your monthly budget. Most student accommodation options for international students (like halls and dorms) include bills, which is one less outgoing to think about.
There are many options for student accommodation in London so you’ll have plenty of choices to look at, however the cost of student accommodation can vary massively, depending on various factors.
A few things to think about when choosing your accommodation are:
- The location you want – the more central locations will cost more money.
- Whether you want a private or shared resistance – a one-bed flat will cost more than a bedroom in a larger shared property.
- Quality of accommodation – the finish and decor will affect the price.
Using HFS London and Homestay
One of the most affordable ways to stay in London as an international student is using the HFS London Homestay option. You’ll stay in the home of one of our homestay hosts, meaning you can experience life and culture in London first hand, with the guidance and familiarity of your homestay companion.
Because of the variety of locations on offer with Homestay, the price range is varied. Meaning, if you want to spend more budget on your social life, and less on rent – it’s completely possible.
Central London homestays will cost more than properties in zones 3 or 4, and you can also opt for self-catering, bed and breakfast or half board. You just need to tell us your weekly or monthly budget, and we can send a suitable list of options to you to browse through.
Food and drink
For your normal food and drink (consumed within your home – not in restaurants or cafes) you should aim to budget between £30 – £60 a week. London has many convenience stores and supermarkets that sell affordable food and drink options, so you can stock up your fridge for the week.
Grocery shops to look out for are; Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Co-op, Waitrose, Asda, Whole Foods.
Socialising and leisure time
Socialising will hopefully be a big part of your life when you become an international student in London. Making new friends and exploring the city together is a huge part of the experience, and London is a wonderful city to live in.
Your socialising budget will depend greatly on the kind of places you visit and the kinds of places you eat and drink. London is a very budget-friendly city (if you choose to stick to a budget) and you won’t struggle finding affordable restaurants and cafes to enjoy. Lots of places will also have student-offers and special prices for international students.
University College London (UCL) estimates a budget of £32 a week for leisure items such as socialising, hobbies, sport and subscriptions / memberships (like Netflix, and the gym) – but we’d probably put aside a little more than that. A realistic budget would look more like £45 – £60 a week.
Personal items are things like mobile phone bills, toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, etc), medical expenses, and clothing. Of course, this can depend on how much you generally tend to spend on these items, but there are plenty of affordable places in London to purchase these things, so you shouldn’t need to spend a lot of money each month.
Stores like Primark offer good quality, but affordable clothing where you could pick up a full outfit for under £20. Most supermarkets will sell a range of toiletries for under £3, and these should last you a full month.
Travel and transport
Aside from your return flights in and out of the United Kingdom, your transport costs in London will likely be made up of tube journeys, buses and taxi rides. We’d always recommend travelling by public transport in London, it’s much cheaper than taxis, and it’s safe and convenient too.
A monthly tube pass will cost around £30, or you can pay-as-you-go instead – it depends on your budget and how much you plan on using it.
Books and Equipment
Your books and equipment required will depend on the course you’ve chosen to study. Some courses tend to require more books and academic materials, others may require specialist equipment. If you’re worried about these costs, you can contact the university ahead of the term starting and you begin to study in the UK, so you can put aside the right amount.