What’s the Cheapest Amount you can live off as a Student?
Part of being a student involves being prudent; those loans and grants that you get don’t last forever, and they soon drain away if you don’t have a rigid budget in place. In this article we’ll break down the living costs involved for a student to see what is the absolute cheapest a student could live for.
The costliest part of living as a student is accommodation, assuming you’re no longer living at home with parents. Depending on what kind of accommodation you go for, you may well be able to live for around £50 per week.
The cheapest way of living in a lot of cases is to “rent a room” in the private sector. Sometimes families who live close to universities will put a spare room up for rent, allowing them to bring in a little extra money. Typically when you rent a room all bills are included, so it can work out pretty cheap.
Living in university halls is the next cheapest way of living at uni. It depends on which university you go to as to how much you’ll pay, but typically it’ll cost around £50-70 per week to live in halls – often a lot more if you study around London.
Sharing a house in the private sector with friends is also an accommodation option – it can cost anywhere from £50 upwards per week – with rent being a lot higher in London. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of bills when renting in the private sector too.
If you do ample research and hunting you should be able to pick up comfortable accommodation for around £50 per month – you probably won’t get it much cheaper than this!
If you’re living in the private sector you need to factor in bills. These include:
- TV License
Bills that everyone has to pay whether they live in university halls or a shared house include:
- Mobile phone bills
If you shop around you can find some really cheap deals on utility bills – make sure you look around at least once every three months to ensure you’re on the cheapest tariff. Don’t forget to buy a TV License if you have a TV in the property – you could be hit with a huge fine if you watch live TV without one, a fine will seriously eat up into your beer money!
It depends how much you want to shop around as to how much you’re going to spend on food. It also depends whether you’re particularly bothered about buying branded food goods, or whether you’re happy with a supermarket’s own branded items. Instead of shopping in the main supermarkets, you should look to shop in places like Aldi, Lidl and Home Bargains – these places are renowned for being cheap. Try and avoid convenience shops like Co-op and Spar – you’ll pay a premium in the majority of these stores.
One of the biggest problems students face is waste – so make sure you’re not purchasing excess food that will only end up in the bin, it’s a huge waste of cash. If you’re cooking large portions and you can’t eat the entire dinner, make sure that you freeze any leftovers or put them in the fridge for the next day.
When your student loans and grants come in it can be very tempting to live like a king on a diet of takeout food and fillet steak. Just remember that money has to last you until the next semester in most costs, so you need to budget very, very carefully indeed.
Foods like pasta, noodles and rice are all student favourites because they’re cheap and easy to make.
You’ll probably have to pick up some clothes for nights out during your time at university. Clothes aren’t cheap, so you’ll have to incorporate them into your budget. You don’t want to be buying a whole new wardrobe every month, but you should still grab a few new garms if possible!
You need to get to and from lectures if you’re not living in the immediate vicinity of the university. Most student towns and cities have good transport links, so you should be able to get around on the bus with a weekly ticket. Alternatively you could invest in a bike – just remember to buy a chain and pad lock for it so you can secure it when leave it outside.
Taking a car to university might sound like a good idea but the fact is it will quickly deplete your budget – there’s nothing cheap about taking a car to uni so leave it at home!
Stationary and text books
You will definitely need stationary and text books as a student – if you want to save money you should buy text books second hand where possible. Another top tip is that once you’re done with text books don’t throw them in the bin or donate them to the library, sell them on again! You can recoup pretty much all of your money by doing this.
It really does depend which university you attend and where it is in the country. Being a student isn’t cheap whichever way you look at it, but there are ways in which you can reduce your weekly expenditure to below £100. This won’t be possible for every student out there, but for those attending universities where rent is cheap, this figure is easy to hit.
Remember you need to make a commitment to being thrifty – you won’t save anything without making an effort to. It can be hard to resist partying seven nights per week when all your mates are out, but if you’re going to live as cheap as possible it’s something you’ll have to learn to do! Likewise it’ll be hard to resist a bit fat greasy kebab on the way home from your nights out, but if you’re serious about living on the cheap – you must say no!