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Student Budgeting

Student living costs in the UK 2022

The student budget is a tricky thing to pin down. But our latest National Student Money Survey reveals where students' money goes once and for all...

purse with £5 note sticking out

Credit: Yevgen Kravchenko, kamui29, Bell Photography 423 – Shutterstock

We all know that student living can be a pricey business. But, how pricey is it exactly?

Rather than taking wild guesses, we can tell you what your expected living costs are, based on what thousands of other students are telling us.

Whether you're wanting to budget your monthly expenses, or simply see how your spending compares to the average student, we've got all the stats on student living costs that you need.

If you're struggling to keep up with rising living costs, see our guide on how to cope with the cost of living crisis.

Average student living costs

ExpenseCost per month
Rent£418
Groceries£116
Household bills£64
Going out£59
Transport£54
Takeaways and eating out£49
Clothes and shopping£35
Holidays and events£25
Health and wellbeing£20
Other£20
Mobile phone£18
Course materials£17
Gifts and charity£15
Friends and family£14
TOTAL£924

In our latest annual National Student Money Survey, we asked over 2,000 students where their money goes. The results were very interesting.

The average student's living costs are about £924 a month, but our findings reveal that Maintenance Loans often fall far short of covering students' living expenses.

It's probably no surprise that rent takes the biggest chunk out of the student budget. Despite the overall cost of living for students increasing, rent dropped to £418. This is a £3 decrease from 2021, but the long-term trend is still one of growth.

Groceries are the second biggest expenditure for students, coming in at £116 a month. This might seem like a lot, but it breaks down to around £27 a week – not too bad for a weekly food shop. Nonetheless, to cut down the costs of groceries further, check out our guide to saving money on food or even try our weekly meal plan.

Everyone knows that students love a good party, and it turns out £59 a month is spent on going out. Some might be surprised that this is more than three times the amount students spend on course materials. However, with tuition fees at such a high rate, there's increasing pressure on unis to keep extra course costs to a minimum.

Students also estimate they spend £64 a month on bills, which include gas, electricity, water, broadband and a TV Licence. Our complete guide to student bills has step-by-step advice on how to set up, switch, split bills, and we also have guidance on help with energy bills during these testing times.

Student living costs across the UK

As the graphic above demonstrates, the most expensive places to live as a student in the UK can be found in the South and East of England.

London is by far the most expensive region, well over £100 a month more expensive than any other area of the country. This will be partly thanks to the cost of rent in London, which often dwarves the amount you'd pay for an equivalent property elsewhere.

And things are similarly pricey at the opposite end of the UK, too. The cost of living in Scotland isn't far off what students are paying in the South East of England – another notoriously expensive place to live.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland, the Midlands and the North East of England are comfortably the cheapest regions in the UK.

But it's worth noting that in this year's survey, student living costs exceed £800 a month in every part of the country. This is in stark contrast to 2021's results, where 10 of the 12 regions fell below this mark.

Know exactly where your money goes with an app-based bank.

Which students spend the most?

Only two of the universities in the top 10 for total spending (excluding rent) are based in London – Greenwich and London Metropolitan.

Two Scottish universities made the top 10, with Edinburgh's own Heriot-Watt University ranking 7th and Abertay Dundee in 10th place.

The very lowest spenders are those at the University of Law, which turned out to be the only university with students spending less than £200 a month on all expenses excluding rent. Kingston, St Andrews, Lincoln and the University College Birmingham all came in at £250 or less.

At some unis, the average cost of bills seems very low (£2 at Lancaster, for example) – but bear in mind that these figures are averages. A lot of students' utilities will be included in their rent, so they would likely have reported that their bills cost £0.

The table below lists all universities and the average that students spend on living costs, after rent. How do you compare to your classmates?

UniversityTotal (£)Groceries (£)Takeaways and eating out (£)Transport (£)Going out and socialising (£)Household bills (£)Mobile phone (£)Clothes and shopping (£)Health and wellbeing (£)Course materials (£)Holidays and events (£)Gifts and charity (£)Relatives or friends (who you financially support) (£)Other (£)
Aberdeen521119783440703635212617191115
Abertay Dundee7381569028851212568382726321725
Aberystwyth3851332338433216152816810250
Anglia Ruskin920100100889412530100605360284838
Arden66556705355643060603767482640
Arts University Bournemouth849887558108933385545875315833
Aston707106815087443656442949313757
Bangor66695616611569236322358416170
Bath455100415542651242271714121019
Bath Spa9331381385813390166065757959250
Bedfordshire68829349545511820208554950
Birmingham4487560394568213215191914735
Birmingham City50052375953412140161430137846
Bolton5635795404695462031432835622
Bournemouth4578236384836184124361713625
Brighton378104374258471019178161109
Bristol461121424674721438154181171
Bucks New7521501001301000128050101002000
Cambridge535105643156711554191640132228
Cardiff438995437765313312011181654
Cardiff Metropolitan2811002813652816181140000
Chester458953563463429451684214526
Chichester366842244293915191419316440
City, UoL667224697661802452252527400
Coventry3281305043202014819250000
Cumbria531120389816180261416135600
De Montfort424113393752453334152533025
Derby7522144049972121322138503500
Dundee7111574149581401959303420332250
Durham4361145530503212461994014120
East Anglia361102322665399291451210215
Edge Hill314772925473175271411400
Edinburgh41714948345338937174131005
Essex28294294538157151086790
Exeter465123634852392025124482180
Falmouth3901052953616218201477880
Glasgow47911944656256182824101881413
Glasgow Caledonian5491053847565114412521152314100
Gloucestershire415105128318801418191879330
Goldsmiths39912060422333943133331270
Greenwich84517392103701501317276710017170
Guildhall School of Music and Drama25667102330543832372700
Heriot-Watt766117929010073221173833503300
Hertfordshire688160579043832036392025157724
Highlands and Islands35574351926131161020302300
Huddersfield47211662386157143321222215120
Hull48315033881783191312251715100
Imperial College London35511039495024724164191400
Keele4218749575948153413131111717
Kent4331086343857312191294500
King's College London6081275210066581737181429243928
Kingston2385743534007153051500
Lancaster3391114336792620122161040
Leeds430110483371521139236211141
Leeds Beckett378863330504525311526103015
Leeds Trinity35278316038381631155182400
Leicester452107695858501230261189140
Lincoln2437829184964289110821
Liverpool40310344518301347101331800
Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts35513343278787518177300
Liverpool John Moores5321295140753420661818363140
London Metropolitan7842045714667122253423204242910
London South Bank6089765749670115919273820330
Loughborough481134594470238512711351450
LSE3551107035352554520001000
Manchester5061344942716019382424271440
Manchester Met629132687985939661414283470
Newcastle355862147612912182311192008
Northampton2888025254519253691121200
Northumbria53512166411114218532952412310
Norwich University of the Arts61713363231673327871010531000
Nottingham377105453368251028188251200
Nottingham Trent4951164757575413331171520167
Open University551134406029142232324117121630
Oxford51214262285550183625253229120
Oxford Brookes3471084821382773320538500
Plymouth49414739425352234135181315610
Portsmouth583132694967592633173248121720
Queen Margaret436100522343453133277453000
Queen Mary42213639654942132015323970
Queen's Belfast324873751521982385151380
Reading42410637436050654220271405
Robert Gordon5008730100577129283072218021
Roehampton4061253038281252481955200
Royal Agricultural University6201202010545250255065100200
Royal Holloway3881252158522216171320241820
Salford54112759724313117251114251440
Sheffield46115228475865121818102910312
Sheffield Hallam593126533656118233024103515564
South Wales47113034494260203323241218260
Southampton3831003030455612311782319011
St Andrews239581010614001630015000
St Mary's6301901194311511151416582015150
Staffordshire61014641887318212109490000
Stirling6651636839125139681833355750
Strathclyde42489246070107191214541740
Suffolk5651224776261583630171003040
Sunderland678158421063813029436442210500
Surrey3141032427522712308910903
Sussex43511648667135123388291000
Swansea40510435614252122216102011813
Teesside265733230102324188151313100
Trinity St David684167431273020027013730670
UCL572137648567671360247232330
UCLan87914112782111111405729318021470
Ulster650137658887155125777713170
University College Birmingham2504320623671417162061160
University for the Creative Arts64320095941054225313410800
University of Law16088172707128701300
University of the Arts London55917515801750193554501000
Warwick426119444844258441325214111
West of England, Bristol357109326229201627125251460
Winchester41188566058401225281801025
Wolverhampton567128251055814328151315231600
Worcester38882459538545211510231000
York4091094330672914201599133220
AVERAGE
506
116
49
54
59
64
18
35
20
17
25
15
14
20

The data has been filtered to exclude universities where there were not enough respondents, or where the results included significant outliers.

Check out our list detailing the cost of student accommodation at each UK university for more info.

Is the Maintenance Loan enough?

It's all very well working out how much students spend each month. But the big question is, how do they pay for it?

The majority of students will be eligible for some form of Maintenance Loan to cover their living costs at university. However, most students report that it doesn't stretch far enough. The average student receives just £485 a month from their Maintenance Loan, which falls £439 a month short of covering the average living costs (£924 a month).

In fact, 66% believe the Maintenance Loan isn't big enough.

Students told us:

  • [The] cost of living has increased and the loan doesn't cover it anymore.
  • I get the lowest possible amount [because] my dad is a high earner. However, he is very stingy with money. My loan doesn't cover my rent.
  • My Maintenance Loan doesn't cover rent, let alone other expenses such as bills and food etc.

Almost two-thirds of students (59%) turn to their parents for extra funds, with students getting an average of £149.80 a month from their mums and dads.

But, fewer students than last year are relying on money from their parents. Many are turning to ways to make money from home, and the proportion of students getting a part-time job dropped from 66% in 2021 to 62% in 2022.

Some students turned to less conventional ways to fund themselves during university – from stocks and shares (5%) and social media (4%) to sex work (3%) and NFTs (1%).

It's clear that the Maintenance Loan isn't enough to cover living costs for the vast majority of students. The government needs to make some serious changes to Student Finance in order to fix this.

To make your Maintenance Loan last longer, check out our guide to budgeting at university.

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