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Exploring the Cost of Living in the UK: Expenses, Factors, and Considerations


The cost of living in the UK is relatively high, varying by location. Key expenses include accommodation, food, transportation, healthcare, education, utilities, and entertainment. London is particularly expensive, while smaller towns may offer a more affordable lifestyle. Plan and budget accordingly.

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The cost of living in the UK is relatively high, varying by location. Key expenses include accommodation, food, transportation, healthcare, education, utilities, and entertainment. London is particularly expensive, while smaller towns may offer a more affordable lifestyle. Plan and budget accordingly.

Navigating the Cost of Living in the UK

Have you dreamed of moving to the cold, rainy and yet beautiful island of the UK? Has the cost of living in a first-world country like the UK scared or intimidated you? Careful consideration must be given to ensuring adequate financial support when investing in a quality education abroad, especially when considering the cost of living UK. Compared to the United States of America and Australia, the UK offers favourable affordability regarding educational expenses, with average prices being significantly lower. Moving to the UK does not necessarily imply a drain of wealth!

In this blog, we delve into the factors that influence the cost of living in the UK, including education cost in the UK, explore key expenses, and provide valuable insights to help you make informed decisions about your financial well-being while living or studying in this captivating country.

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What’s the Cost of Living in the UK?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this question. The cost of living in the UK is a considerably vast topic and solely depends on the city you choose to live in. Like anywhere in the world, living in the capital city has its advantages and disadvantages. The monthly cost of living in the capital city, London, is higher than in other places, though the metropolitan city has its own advantages. 

For an individual studying in London, the average monthly living expenses in the UK for international students would contribute to the overall cost of living in the country. For an individual living in London would look like:

  • Accommodation cost – £750 to £848 based on the type of accommodation 
  • Transportation – £103 (check for full-time student discounts)
  • Food – £200
  • Utilities – £140
  • Healthcare – £81 (15-minute doctor’s appointment)
  • Entertainment – £148 (best seats in the theatre, tickets for 2)
  • Health Insurance – £470 (International students have to pay £470 yearly for NHS insurance)

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Accommodation Costs in the UK

Let’s get down to discussing the financial implications of securing accommodation in the United Kingdom. As we explore this significant aspect, we aim to shed light on the intricate details of the accommodation costs in the UK

Average living expenses in the UK, including location, property size, and amenities, can be one of the most expensive parts of the cost of living in the UK that a student has to incur. While there are great and affordable student accommodation options available, there are many factors involved in picking housing, from your convenience to the weather to the cost of living in the UK with rent. The next big expense after UK universities fees for international students might be the accommodation costs.

The average cost of living in UK city centres, besides London, the cost of accommodation rounds up to a close average of £1,740, while similar housing accommodation in the suburbs amounts to an average of £1,231. Accommodation costs in downtown areas range from £1,200 to £2,200, whereas the rent in periphery areas ranges from £900 to £1,500.

You can rent the larger apartments in the UK for approximately £3,000, with an average of around £3,141 in central areas, specifically for three-bedroom units. However, it’s worth noting that prices can vary between £2,250 and £5,000 while searching for an apartment. Similar apartments outside the city centre amount to £1,700 to £2,800 on average. This is the current scenario when you consider the cost of living in the UK with rent.

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What are the Monthly Expenses in the UK?

Imagine you got accepted into the university of your choice in the UK, found affordable accommodation but didn’t plan out your monthly expenses, and now you’re broke! It happens to the best of us, but you can still avoid this situation with a little financial planning.

Given the noticeable rise in the cost of living in the UK, it is highly recommended that students and individuals considering moving to the country carefully plan and budget their expenditures carefully beforehand. Let’s analyse the different anticipated monthly expenses associated with the cost of living in the UK for a single person.

Monthly expenses


Rest of UK

Rent (study hall, inclusive of other costs, but might vary based on catered/non-catered preference)



Rent (private accommodation per person in a shared household)



Household bills/Utilities (gas, electricity, water, broadband, TV licence)





£167 – £194

Public transport (though full-time students are offered 30% discounts on standard tubes and bus fares)



Dining out/Socialising 



Mobile phone bill (SIM-only plan)



Student gym membership



Health Insurance (NHS)



Cost of Living in the UK for International Students?

International students incur the cost of education in the UK while dealing with the higher cost of living in the UK. These expenses can add up. For international students, it amounts to an average of about £859 for a single person in London and about £684 in other cities. The cost of living in the UK highly depends on the area you choose to live in – the closer you are to the centre, the higher you would have to pay. Unfortunately, living in a building with iconic Gothic architecture overlooking the River Thames or Big Ben may not be the most budget-friendly option. 

Known for its world-class education, tuition fees on average amount up to £7,000 for UK nationals and can increase up to three times for international students (£10,000 to £38,000). However, this depends on the chosen institute/school and place of temporary residence. In London, on-campus accommodation costs approximately £600 a month, whereas private or off-campus accommodation can cost around £710. 

Living outside London is relatively cheaper; on-campus housing may cost around £440 a month, and off-campus accommodation may cost £420. Tuition fees may also vary depending on the place and type. Schools demand about £7,160 to £15,250 for kindergarten and private schools, respectively, whereas universities charge in the range of £19,500 to £46,000 outside of London and about £23,750 to £40,600 in London. 

Affordable cities to live in include Durham, Belfast, Lancaster, Cardiff, Warwick, Lincoln, Nottingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and Norwich, among others. 

UK student visa amounts up to £363 and allows students to be employed as part-timers with a 20-hour work week during a term (40 hours off-term). Did you consider working a few extra hours to get some extra cash? Don’t do that! By working longer hours, you will be breaching your visa, which could prevent you from obtaining a visa in the future, and you may be subject to legal repercussions. 

You are, however, allowed to work during vacations. So if you require some extra cash or are looking for work experience, it is advisable to work during the holidays and save up! This will allow you to focus on studying during the academic year and provide you with some extra cash or work experience. Additionally, paying £470 for an Immigration Health Surcharge while applying for a visa gives you access to UK’s National Health Service facilities and care, with a 25% discount for student visa holders. 

To save money in the UK and adhere to a tight budget, you can:

  • Share a flat
  • Get a zero forex markup travel card from India to save on forex payments
  • Get a local bank account
  • Reduce household/Utility bills
  • Pay off debts soon, and generate good credit score
  • Avoid dining out at expensive places
  • Commute by public transportation
  • Compare prices and look up bargain deals. Bargain deals may include using credit cards to maximise cash back and getting a high-yielding savings account. 

Being an international student in the UK does have to be expensive. Budget, save and get the correct insurance!

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Cost of Living in the UK to India - A Comparison

Have you ever bargained with a street vendor to get a ₹10 discount and still thought you were being overcharged? Unfortunately, living in the UK is accompanied by a constant feeling of being overcharged because the cost of living in the UK is 6.5 times more than that in India. This includes the cost of studying in the UK for Indians as well. When you consider the UK’s cost of living compared to India, in the global ranking list of most expensive places to live in, India ranks at 194, while the UK ranks at 12. It is necessary to note that there is a stark difference in the purchasing power parity between an average citizen in the UK and India. Moreover, as a developed country, the per capita GDP and average hourly wage are higher. Lastly, fluctuations in inflation in both countries may disrupt these estimates and make creating a concrete budget difficult. As convenient as it is to simply compare, economics and cost of living simply cannot be bottled down to simple comparisons. Nevertheless, from some perspective:

  • A McDonald’s meal that costs around 245 in India will cost £ 6.16 (618) in the UK
  • Monthly rent in India amounts to 42,131 (£409), whereas in the UK, it is £1,848
  • Transportation charges can vary greatly depending on several factors, including city and area of residence, type of transport being used etc. The iconic London tube is one of the most expensive metro systems in the world, with the minimum one-way fare being approximately £2.80. In major cities such as Mumbai and Delhi, the minimum one-way metro ranges from ₹10 to ₹20 (£0.19).
  • Cold medicine for 6 days in India would cost 145 (£1.41), whereas, in the UK, it would cost £3.52.

Amongst all of this, one should also compare the UK health insurance cost for international students

You may need to look into other potential financial adjustments:

  1. Opening a Wise Multi-currency account – send, spend, receive and convert British Pound (GBP) to Indian Rupee (INR) as and when required. 
  2. Creating an international debit card, if required
  3. Get a zero forex markup Niyo Global card to save up to 5% on all forex spending
  4. Choosing the right visa – skilled worker visa, student visa, family visa, ancestry visa are among a few
  5. Opening a UK bank account
  6. Choosing the right residential area – rental properties can be viewed on websites/platforms such as Rightmove, OpenRent, Zoopla and Spareroom.
  7. Finding the right employment to reimburse the cost of studying in the UK for Indians

Key Highlights

Moving from India to the UK is a major step. While living in the UK as a student is a fresh and new experience, it comes with high living expenses in the UK. Riding the underground, figuring out the way to your friend’s place in a new city, and exploring it on the way are experiences that will be unmatched. The minimum living cost in the UK includes several expenditures like personal items, groceries, eating out, entertainment, and accommodation.

If you’ve moved to the UK and are successfully budgeting, congrats! But remember, while it is important to budget and plan your finances well to ride out the living expenses per month in the UK, using the right instrument to do it is also essential. No matter what, always research before making decisions regarding living in the UK. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How much should I budget for groceries and dining out in the UK?

Groceries within London amount to £200, whereas the rest of the UK pays about £167 – £194. Dining out is more expensive in London, £150, than in the rest of the UK, £80.

2. What is the average cost of transportation in the UK?

On average, transportation charges amount to £103 within London, whereas it is up to £54 in the rest of the UK. This cost may reduce with discounts for full-time students as they are offered 30% off standard tubes and bus fares.

3. How much should I expect to pay for utilities such as electricity, water, and internet?

Household bills/Utilities inclusive of gas, electricity, water, broadband, and TV licence amount on an average up to £140 in London, and £80 for the rest of the UK.

4. What are the average rental prices in popular cities like London or Manchester?

The average rental cost in the UK amounts up to £758 (₹75,800) for a one-bedroom flat in the city and up to £614 (₹61,400) outside of London.

5. What financial considerations should international students have when planning to study in the UK?

Some student considerations include using student discounts, creating a rail card/accessing discounted student fares on buses and tubes, sharing flats to reduce accommodation payments, and reducing utility bills. One should also factor in the cost of health insurance for international students, other costs of living in the UK, cost of living in the UK for a single person, minimum living expenses in the UK for international students, and cost of living in the UK with rent.
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