18 August 2016

Congratulations! You're going to uni!

Thousands of students are making plans to head off to university this September and many will be thinking about how they’re going to pay – not just for their tuition fees and accommodation, but for everyday living costs like food, travel and of course the occasional night out.

Depending on where you choose to study, these day-to-day costs, as well as your rent, can vary significantly; impacting on your budget and how much you plan to save over the summer.

Here are a few costs it’s worth considering when working out your student budget, and our infographic showing how prices vary between popular universities up and down the country.

Cost of University Infographic

Housing costs

One of the biggest costs faced by students after tuition fees is rent, which typically adds up to thousands of pounds each academic year. Where you study will affect how much rent you pay, with students in northern and Welsh cities paying significantly less on average than their contemporaries studying in the south.

According to the Complete University Guide, the cheapest private accommodation in Cardiff is around half the price of the lowest-priced options in London (£2,880 compared with £5,915 per year). It’s also worth considering the price difference between university accommodation and private properties, with the former normally working out cheaper – although it’s often only available for first years.

Getting about

Transport around the city you’ve chosen to study at can soon add up, especially if you’re living off-campus. If you do take the bus, tram or train on a regular basis it usually works out cheaper to get a season ticket, particularly as some travel companies offer student discounts.

There’s also the cost of travelling home, either for regular visits or at the end of term. A 16–25 Railcard will help make the journey more affordable.

Food and drink

The cost of your weekly supermarket shop may not vary much from city to city, but meals out and your post-pub takeaways can be much pricier depending on your location. According to Just Eat, even the average price of a simple margherita pizza ranges from as little as £5.30 in Leeds to almost double that at £9.49 in Cambridge. It may only be a few pounds, but if you indulge every week, it soon adds up over the term.

Similarly, the cost of a trip to the pub depends on where in the country you’re based. Data from the Good Pub Guide puts the average pint price in Yorkshire at £3.15 – a whole 77p cheaper than the £3.95 students pay in London. If you drink 5 pints a week, that’s a difference of £38.50 over a 10-week term.

Be prepared

Wherever you’re heading off to university, in the months leading up to moving day it’s a good plan to get a realistic idea of how much things cost in your chosen city, to help you make a realistic budget for each term.

There are sure to be a few surprise costs – especially if you’re living away from home for the first time – so it’s worth sorting out your finances with a current account and having a contingency fund to fall back on, especially in your first weeks as you adjust to a new home and way of life.

Settle into university life with our current account specifically designed for students. Find out more about FlexStudent.

When you open a FlexStudent current account* you will have the chance to win one of five £15,000 prizes to share between your student accommodation and your parents' mortgage. You'll be automatically entered into the prize draw after opening the account. The prize draw will close on 30 November 2016. If you'd prefer not to be entered into the prize draw please email your name to flexstudentprizedraw@nationwide.co.uk. Terms and conditions apply.

*To open FlexStudent you must be 18+; a UK resident of at least 3 years; accepted on a full-time UCAS course of at least 2 years; and within 2 months either side of your course start date.

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