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Living expenses

Setting up a budget is all well and good, but it can be difficult to plan properly before you’ve arrived at university and worked out how much everything costs each week or month.

The information below is designed as a guide to your living expenses at university. You will be able to calculate your own personal budget once you know your outgoings.

Expenditure Per month Per year Notes
Rent (if you are living in university accommodation, this is paid in one instalment each term) £5,202 - £7,182 Average rent for a standard room on a 42-week tenancy. Private rented accommodation tenancy agreements are usually 11 months. You can compare BU accommodation prices for 2021/22 entry here (pdf 46kb).
Bills (gas, electric, water, sewerage and internet) £0 (university accommodation)

£50 (non-university accommodation)

£0 (university accommodation)

£525 (non-university accommodation)

All of these bills are included in the cost of your rent if you are living in halls of residence/Unilet accommodation.

Otherwise, expect to pay around £50 per month.

Local bus travel £0 (university accommodation)

£25 (non-university accommodation)

£0 (university accommodation)

£250 (non-university accommodation)

An annual bus pass is included in your rent if you are living in halls of residence/Unilet accommodation.

Otherwise, it costs £250 for unlimited travel on specified BU and more bus routes for 90 days.

Food, toiletries and household items £245 £2,200 These figures are based on the National Union of Students cost of living survey
Laundry costs £13 - £26 £156 - £312 Launderette facilities in halls of residence are coin/card operated. Unilet houses are fitted with washing machines, so this is included in the rent.
Insurance for personal possessions £70 We recommend you insure your personal possessions. This can also be paid monthly by direct debit.
TV licence £159 You can also pay for your TV licence in weekly, monthly or quarterly instalments. Check whether you need one at the TV Licensing website
Course materials £18 - £53 £210 - £630 For example, core textbooks, photocopying, stationery and other consumables.

These figures are based on a 12-month period and have been gathered from a range of sources.

You may find one of the following online calculators can help you work out your budget:

Start-up costs

Don’t forget that there are certain things you’ll need to buy when you start university, as these won’t be provided by your accommodation. They include:

  • Bedding (sheets, pillows, duvets)
  • Towels and tea towels
  • Cups, bowls and plates
  • Cutlery
  • Cooking utensils and saucepans.

You may just want to bring the bare minimum of kitchen equipment, cutlery and crockery when you start university, as you and your housemates may decide to buy some of the essentials together and split the cost.

Accommodation costs

In addition to the living costs for year 1 noted above, you will also need funds to secure your accommodation for the following year. This will include a holding fee, deposit and first month’s rent which can average £800-£1,000. Some students will wait until after Christmas to secure their accommodation as they will have more funds available.

Many letting agents also require you to have a guarantor. If your family have a low income, do not own their own home or you’re an EU or international students you may find it difficult to get a guarantor. There are companies that can act as your guarantor for a flat rate fee of approximately £300, or a fee of approximately 3.5% of the total rent. If the letting agent doesn’t accept these companies as a guarantor then the other options include paying 6 months or the full contractual rent upfront.