Wherever you study, balancing your budget at university isn’t always easy. Unfortunately, government student loans are the same across the UK, so if you study in a more spenny spot then chances are you’ll feel the pinch more than others. Have you found yourself in an affordable city, or do you feel it costs money just to leave the house?
We’ve had a look at how costs vary for four spends you can’t live without as a student – rent, coffee, beer and transport (yes, vegetables not included).
From only £226/month average rent in Belfast, to a whopping £700 in London, the place where you choose to study can have a big impact on your finances. The cost of renting accommodation across the UK is affected by a few key factors. The main one is house prices. Landlords decide the rent they charge firstly depending on how they pay each month for their mortgage (if they have one), and then how much profit they can make. After that, the ratio of population density versus the amount of accommodation available also allows the landlord to charge either more or less for a property.
Across the UK, rents are overall higher than the rest of Europe because we have lots more private landlords, rather than government-owned rentals. As a student, your rent will probably be on the cheaper side if you live in student halls or another form of university-owned accommodation. If you’d like to find the cheaper options, check out the Accommodation section on your university’s website.
Some might say that a Friday pint is a human right. Not everyone, but… some. Depending where you live though, a round can be a generous – but normal – gesture or a reason to extend your overdraft. From £3.41 in Cardiff, to a dizzying £5.19 in London, if it’s too much, the cost of pints might even make you stay in instead of going to the pub.
So why do the prices vary so much? Well, a top reason is the average cost of pub rentals (yes, we’re back to rent again) where you are. If the owner’s having to pay an extortionate amount each month, you can expect an equally wince-worthy price list. If there’s a cheap pub like a Wetherspoons or a Sam Smith near you though, you should be able to have regular nights out without worrying too much.
Cafe culture has really lifted off in the UK over the past 10 years – and so have the coffee prices. Whether you like a Cappuccino, a Vanilla Latte, an Oat Latte or a Frappuccino, chances are cafes have got you and your friends hooked too.
Prices vary again depending on how much it costs the cafe to rent the premises. If you’re in a city with a booming hipster cafe culture, they’ll probably charge more than average (sometimes over £4), knowing their customers are willing to pay that much for their artisan roasted, single origin, professional barista-made Almond Flat White.
If you’ve found yourself a slave to a steamy, frothy espresso-based concoction, there are some cheaper options out there. Ever-reliable MacDonalds and Gregs sell the standard range of Cappucinos, Lattes and Flat Whites at a cheaper cost than small artisan cafes. You might find your student union has a great deal with an in-house barista too. And if you stick a milk frother on your Christmas list, there’s no reason why you can’t whip up cafe-grade lattes (complete with swirly hearts) at home.
The average cost of public transport is fairly similar across the UK, from £2 per one-way journey in Belfast and Cardiff, to £2.50 each way in London. Transport costs are controlled by the local government, and they vary depending on the population density and the subsequent cost of regular maintenance. If you live in a safe enough student town or city, cycling is a good way to save lots of money and keep fit at the same time. And if you’ve not too far to go each day, there’s always walking too.
If you’re finding it hard to budget as a student, you can take some of the weight off your shoulders with a part-time job. By tutoring online with MyTutor, you can earn up to £27.50/hour, no matter where in the country you are. All you need is a computer, an internet connection and your subject expertise, and you’re good to go.