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Money and Living Expenses

Make the most of your money

You want to enjoy a happy and healthy study life in the UK so understanding how much you need for living expenses is a great starting point. However, keep in mind the cost of living might be higher or lower depending on where you live.

The UK Government suggests you will need:

  • £1,265 per month if you live in London for the majority (more than 50 percent) of your study time

  • £1,015 per month if you live outside London for the majority of your study time (more than 50 percent of study time)

These figures do not include the cost of any of your study or tuition fees.

There are some helpful websites you might consider using to help budget for your time in the UK. One website is Expatistan, which calculates the cost of living in the UK using up-to-date, crowd-sourced data.

Your banking and payments options

In the UK, you usually pay (and are paid) in pounds and pence. You can make purchases at stores using coins and notes, or a credit or debit card.

You maynotice that the notes you get in Scotland and Northern Ireland look a little different to the rest of the UK – even though the currency is the same, Scottish and Northern Irish banks print their own notes. These are generally accepted in the rest of the UK, but if you have any problems and need to change them to Bank of England notes, you can do so at any major bank in the UK.

Most UK banks will be happy to assist you in opening an account for you while you’re living in the UK. To open an account, you will generally need:

  • Your passport

  • A document confirming the school, college or university you are/will be attending

  • Proof of address at home and in the UK

  • Bank reference and bank statements from your bank in your home country

In order to make the process easier, you may want to check with the bank you currently use in your home country, to see if they have a relationship with any UK-based bank and can help you set up an account in the UK.

To access money from your account, you can:

  • Use your bank’s online or telephone banking service

  • Visit your local bank branch

  • Withdraw money from an ATM

  • Ask to get ‘cash back’ when making an in-store purchase on your debit card

Organising a UK phone and internet provider You’ll probably want to get your phone and Internet sorted very quickly after arriving in the UK.

When it comes to phones, you have three main options:

  • Landline: usually only appropriate if you live off campus. You might be able to get a better deal by bundling your landline with Internet access, or you might choose not to have a landline at all and just use your mobile

  • Mobile – prepaid: gives you control over how much you spend and you can stop using this whenever you want. Pre-paid SIM cards are widely available from many UK shops and supermarkets, as well as from mobile phone providers.

  • Mobile – contract: Depending on how much you use your mobile and what for, a contract with a mobile phone provider in the UK could work out to be cheaper.

Making international calls

International calls can be much more expensive than calls within the UK. You might wish to buy an international calling card (which gives you better rates) or use online options such as Skype or FaceTime instead. You can buy international calling cards from most convenience stores.

  • To call a UK number from overseas, you need to enter the country code for the UK (44) followed by the area code within the UK and then the UK telephone number

  • To call another country from the UK, enter 00 followed by the appropriate international country code, followed by the area code within the country (if required) and then the telephone number

Accessing the internet

You will have a lot of options for Internet access in the UK, but it do shop around to find the plan that offers the best price and download limits for your needs.

Most educational institutions provide free Wi-Fi which you can access with your student logon and password. If you can’t access the Internet on your own phone, tablet, laptop or computer, you can usually find a computer to use in the student library, in an off-campus public library or an internet café.

Many places in the UK offer free Wi-Fi. However, some Internet cafes for example, will charge by the hour. Remember, always check the security of any network you are connecting to.

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