Budgeting is an important part of student life and a useful skill to develop, particularly when you're based in a large and potentially expensive city like London.
On average students can spend around £350 per week on rent and living costs in London. This might be more than you expected. Below is an estimated cost of essential expenditure which may help you plan ahead.
The cost of accommodation will vary depending on whether you choose to stay in halls of residence or private accommodation.
You can expect to pay between £175 and £275 a week for University halls. Private halls tend to start at around £170 per week and can exceed £350 for high-end specs and central London locations.
If you’re in University halls, remember that you’ll also have to pay a £250 deposit in advance.
To see which University halls are available to you, where they're location and how much they cost, visit our Applying for halls page.
If you choose to stay in private accommodation, the cost of rent will depend on the area of London, the type of accommodation and the number of people sharing. Most students travel in to our central London campuses from London Transport Travel Zones 2 and 3. For a room in a shared house you can expect to pay between £120 and £200 per week, excluding bills.
You’ll usually need to pay one month’s rent and a damage deposit (four to six weeks’ rent) in advance – make sure you have enough money to cover it (we recommend that you set aside about £1,500 for this).
If you need help finding private accommodation, have a look at our private rented accommodation page.
If you’re a full-time student and live in University halls or in accommodation where everyone is a student, you will not have to pay council tax. You will need to ask your Faculty Registry Office for a Council Tax Exemption Certificate and send it to your local council. Research students should contact the Graduate School Registry for a certificate.
The fees for halls include utility bills, such as heating and electricity. Basic possessions insurance is also included in the rent, and is provided by Endsleigh. The insurance covers basic items such as PCs and laptops in your room. You can visit the Endsleigh website to see what is covered in the insurance and add any additional items to your insurance.
If you're an international student, note that private health insurance is not included in your tuition fees or halls fees, but as long as you are undertaking a course that is more than six months, you can use the UK’s free National Health Service as you would have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your visa application. .
If you live in private rented accommodation, you may need to pay for electricity, heating, hot water and internet on top of your rent. So make sure you include this when calculating your weekly or monthly costs.
If food is not included in your halls of residence, this will probably be one of your biggest expenses.
If you're in shared accommodation, you may save money by doing your weekly food shop together with your flatmates.
Don't forget that tap water is safe to drink in the UK, so you do not need to buy bottled water. And if you prepare your own lunch to bring to University, you could save up to £900 a year.
Basic possessions insurance is included in halls of residence rent, and is provided by Endsleigh. The insurance covers basic items such as PCs and laptops in your room. However, students have many gadgets and some of them are expensive, and they would be hard to replace if lost or stolen or damaged. You might be living in halls of residence or live in shared accommodation, but still want to consider insuring all of your expensive items such as your phone, tablet, bike, games console or sports equipment. The NUS recommend the student insurer Endsleigh, but you might be able to find a better deal elsewhere, so shop around.
The cost of travel will depend on which London travel zone you live in, but do make sure that you apply for a TfL Student Oyster card when you have enrolled at the University. The Student Oyster card will give you a 30% discount on weekly, monthly and annual travel cards.
Use the bus wherever possible, as single bus fares cost just £1.50, and do also consider cycling as a low-cost option.
Make sure you keep some money aside for books, photocopying and stationery. Also, take advantage of our libraries and look into buying second-hand books to keep costs down.
You might also want to invest in a laptop, so include this in your budget if needed.
Lots of companies do student discounts on IT products, books and more, so make sure you compare prices. Advice on IT discounts and software for Westminster students can be found on our IT discounts and free software page.
Try to carefully manage how much you spend on social activities and items such as clothing, footwear and coffee, as this can really add up. Make the most of London's wide variety of student discounts when you have your NUS Extra card.
There are many discounts that you can take advantage of while studying in London. These include 30% off travel from Transport for London with a Student Oyster Card, another 30% off rail travel with a Young Persons Railcard, discounts in hundreds of high street shops, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and other London attractions with a valid student ID card or NUS Extra card. You can register with the Student Beans website for more discounts on leisure and entertainment. Also the Save the Student website is helpful for finding deals and saving money.
International student blog
Our international student bloggers have created some great articles on how to make the most of London on a budget: