As a student, one of the questions that you are asking about studying in England is how much it will cost to live there. Of course you have to worry about the cost of college, but what about the other costs you may have to deal with there? Let’s take a quick look at the cost of living in England and how it may affect your budget if you study in England (all USD conversions are based on a £1 to $1.55 conversion rate).
The cost of living in England is going to vary depending on what part of the country that you live in. If, as a student, you decide to live in London, you will be paying much more than you would in other parts of the country. In March of 2012, London was ranked the 25th most expensive city to live in. Of course, there are ways to get rid of some of the costs, but it will still be quite pricey. It’s also much cheaper to live in the northern part of England than in the south. In general, the costs vary greatly over the whole of England, which makes it difficult to set a cost of living in stone.
Much of this information comes from 2011, so you may have to adjust for inflation and such depending on where you live. These numbers are based on what the public sees as a socially acceptable standard of living. As a single student living in England, your weekly budget including rent should be approximately £240.89 ($370 USD). You can certainly live off of less than that depending on the flat you are renting, but that average (which comes out to £15,000/$23,000 USD).
Where does that calculation come from? Let’s take a closer look.
- Rent: The average rent that you will pay in England varies depending on where you live. A one bedroom flat averages at £650 (~$1000 USD) per month if you’re in the city; £550 (~$850 USD) if you’re outside of the city. It may be more if your energy costs are included in the rent.
- Council Tax: If you live in England, you have to pay council tax. They calculate how much you should pay per year based on where you live and how many people live with you (if you live alone, it’s much less). This tax helps pay for trash collection, police forces, and street maintenance. It usually averages about £25 ($40 USD) per week.
- Other utilities: If these aren’t included in the rent, the total for gas, electricity, and water per week is about £40/$60 USD. If you live alone or are not home that often due to sightseeing, socializing, or studying, those costs may be less. Heat may also make utilities vary, but that estimate should at least help you budget throughout the year.
- Television license: In England, you must pay for a television license if you’re watching TV at all, even if it’s on a computer or tablet. The cost of the license is £150 ($230 USD) per year for a color television. Luckily, this is per home and not per person, so if you have roommates, you just split this cost.
- Travel costs: Many people in England will buy passes instead of having a vehicle. It makes the commute faster and you can travel much further for much less. A monthly pass for most services. averages at £55, but students can get some great discounts. The International Staff website has a lot of resources available for every type of public transportation you can use in England.
- Other Miscellaneous costs: such as food, internet, books, toiletries, and other items and services you may need. Make sure that you also save a certain amount of cash for potential health care issues that come up, excess school costs that you weren’t expecting, and general emergencies.
Would you like an idea of how much other items cost in England? Here’s a quick overview of some items that you may purchase as a student.
- A meal at a pub or restaurant: £10 (15.50 USD).
- Combo meal at a fast food restaurant: £5 (7.75 USD)
- Liter of milk: £1 (1.55 USD)
- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of chicken breast: £7 (10.85 USD)
- A pair of jeans: £51.25 ($80 USD)
- Half of a liter of beer £3 ($4.65 USD)
- 1.5 liter bottle of water £1 (1.55 USD)
- Produce per kg: £1 to £2 (1.55 to 3.10 USD)
As you can see, the prices in England are very similar to buying most of those same things in the United States or Australia. Some of them are much cheaper (for example, produce). That’s primarily due to the climate and the availability of those products in England as compared to their availability throughout the year in other countries. In general, the cost of living is fairly average in England, and it won’t take much of an adjustment to your current budget in order to live and thrive there.
It will take even less of a budget adjustment if you decide to work while studying in England. Many students decide to work in England while they are attending university; most employers will be flexible with your university schedule as well. Even if you’re only working five to ten hours a week, a job can help alleviate some of the costs you may accrue while you are studying in England.
If you are looking for a more comprehensive list of budgeting information and more information on the cost of living in England, then check out the Numbeo report on the cost of living in the United Kingdom and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s 2011 Income Standard Report, which are where much of the information for this guide was gathered.
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