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How to work out living costs

(48 Posts)
purplegreen99 Tue 13-Mar-18 12:50:36

Can anyone recommend a website that can give me a rough breakdown of typical student living costs? I know rents will depend on the uni but I'm thinking more of other costs like food, books, entertainment, etc. I'm trying to work out how far the maintenance loan will go & how much extra we need to budget for, but I'm finding it hard enough to estimate food costs never mind how much students are likely to spend on other things.

71Juniper71 Tue 13-Mar-18 14:07:36

I don't know a website, sorry but I have two at university and it is very hard to generalise. Some have and spend more money than others. So in a catered hall they will usually have two meals a day so that mean 7 days a week they need to buy a sandwich or make one elsewhere - hence not much needed for food - say £10 a week (unless they are the kind to want takeaway pizzas etc). If they are self catering they will need to buy all their own food so will depend if they spend money on steak or just pasta.

Books in my view is getting less and less. in my day it was a small fortune on books for my course, one of my biggest costs. Now lots of material seems to be downloaded (plus the libraries are good). Mine have a free university bus too.

Entertainment is the big or small one. If they go running or to church or join a choir or read a book for fun it might not cost much at all . If they are going out to nightclubs it could cost a very large amount. Plenty of them get jobs during term time which helps to fund things.

stayathomegardener Tue 13-Mar-18 14:31:31

It's almost impossible to work out before they go.
I did a fair amount of googling and emailed the uni to ask for specific course costs to be sent direct to me prior to her starting. Yes she is an adult but I'm paying.
The uni were sympathetic and info was a great help.
Dd's loan pays for her accommodation and we give her £100 a week for food, transport, fuel, books, entertainment etc.
She just about manages although is on a medical diet and eats very well, all fresh produce etc. I imagine if you live on pizza and noodles it would be far less.

On top of the £100 a week have been next years house deposit £350 and trips £1,500.

quartermooninatencenttown Tue 13-Mar-18 15:19:05

I agree it’s very hard to work out before they go. Entertainment is definitely the thing to think about - books haven’t been an issue though that would vary depending on the course. Loan doesn’t quite cover accommodation, living costs etc paid for by jobs had before and during uni. It’s really how long is a piece of string and how much you can / want to pay.

quartermooninatencenttown Tue 13-Mar-18 16:57:18

purplegreen -meant to add I don't know how much a week DD spends but much less than £100 - at a guess 50ish though I know it varies week to week.

Lessstressy Tue 13-Mar-18 17:08:10

From my experience of 2 DC at uni I would say that the big variable is the social side. My DD who is in fully catered halls burns through the same amount per week as my DS in a student house, despite the fact that he has to buy all food and bills out of the same weekly sum.

DC2 (the profligate one) seems to spend money on coffees, takeways and uber as her social life seems to revolve around late nights out and clubbing. DC1 has a hobby he spends money on but isn't interested in clubbing and takeaways.

They both manage on £90-£100 per week living expenses. None of it is on books though- their respective libraries seem to stock all the textbooks they need.

It may be a sweeping generalisation but I suspect that DDs may have spend more than DSs (clothes, make-up).

My DCs' unis each have a section dedicated to living costs so it might be worth checking your DC's preferred uni websites for information.

This website is also quite useful for money-saving and money-generating ideas beyond the student loans and bank of mum and dad:

midgebabe Tue 13-Mar-18 17:09:21


Lessstressy Tue 13-Mar-18 17:25:29

This is the link I meant to post:

purplegreen99 Tue 13-Mar-18 17:28:21

Thanks - will check uni websites and savethestudent and studentroom. I hadn't thought that books wouldn't be a big expense - they were probably my biggest uni expense many years ago.

Teenagedream Tue 13-Mar-18 18:30:36

We give £180 a month. They manage fine with this. We started first year with £35 a week, £5 a day.
They had some savings and a little from their grandpa every month although this stopped when he died.
We continue paying over the hols but stop for the summer.

titchy Tue 13-Mar-18 21:17:08

A common pattern amongst many I know is that the basic maintenance loan pays living costs and parents (or combination of parents and above-basic loan) pays for accommodation.

BasiliskStare Tue 13-Mar-18 21:49:43

Not all , but some books can be ordered 2nd hand from Amazon - of course it depends on subject as to whether they are available or whether the right edition is there , but worth looking - DS has saved a fair amount I reckon on reading lists from doing this.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 14-Mar-18 14:52:55

Interestingly UCL states I it's prospectus to allow £387 per week to include accommodation!! Have suggest to DS perhaps Warwick instead!

purplegreen99 Wed 14-Mar-18 15:07:06

That's interesting Titchy. I had been thinking about working out a top up for the maintenance grant but might be easier to just agree to pay for accommodation (depending on where dd goes) and certainly easier for me to budget for and check costs to pay for something that is not variable.

Will check out the UCL website allthebest. DD isn't thinking about a London uni but kind of useful to know what the most expensive areas are suggesting - at least, whatever it costs, it's unlikely to be as expensive as UCL grin.

eatyourveg Wed 14-Mar-18 15:55:31

This one allows you to put two places in and it compares the cost of living in both places

boys3 Wed 14-Mar-18 19:05:15

It’s really how long is a piece of string

that quite neatly sums it up, and equally I'd agree with those saying it is very difficult to generalise.

Accommodation costs are probably the biggest single item by some distance, on that front alone Oxford and Cambridge are probably among the least expensive universities, contrary to some of the more popular myths.

Clubs and sports costs can vary massively between different Unis for the same sport / club.

Some courses may well need a decent spec laptop ; whilst for many something far more standard will suffice although may not be deemed acceptable by a DC.

Clubbing, eating out, alcohol, clothes, netflix smile all add up dependent on how much a DC likes to indulge in some / all / or none of them.

Whilst there is a lot of general info out there, every DC is going to be different.

quartermooninatencenttown Wed 14-Mar-18 19:18:44

Yes, Cambridge would have been the least expensive option DD looked at. Freshers week is potentially ridiculously expensive with a massive amount of pressure to spend a fortune on drink /clubbing etc - experience from this year is that a lot of students have a lot of disposable income to spend on drink and clubbing (and others don't but may feel pressurised to go out, at least initially). Am anticipating next year (off campus) to be easier in many ways though as I said, I don't know how much DD spends a week.

Schoolconfusionbath Wed 14-Mar-18 19:24:02

My children are younger so have this to look forward to. I can't believe the lists above of net flicks, high spec laptops etc that students expect. How are they going to manage when working & supporting themselves? Will parents continue to bail them out or will they learn to go without?

quartermooninatencenttown Wed 14-Mar-18 19:41:23

HI schoolconfusionbath - it varies so much from student to student - no hard and fast rules! DD is self-financing having worked part-time since she was 16 and continuing to work in holidays (she gets minimum living loan) Other are funded to a lesser /greater extent and in terms of friendships it hasn't seemed to impact at all; some of her friends go out and spend a lot more and others don't - such is life.

FakeMews Thu 15-Mar-18 21:56:54

Neither of mine bought a single book.
A rough guide is that parents are expected to top up to the level of the maximum maintenance loan which is about £8300. Of course if they are in very expensive accommodation that may not be enough. In my DS case the loan just covers the rent and we give £50pw to live on which has been plenty. This covers everything. However he doesn't spend much on phones, clothes or socialising. His bus fares are a big expense.

Hellsbellscockleshells Thu 15-Mar-18 22:16:56

It’s how long is a piece of string so difficult to guesstimate. Also depends where DC are living are they in halls on site do they have transport costs to get to Uni, are halls fully catered, can DC cook and stick to a budget, if girls do they have high ideals and maintenance costs (beauty/hair/clothes endless with some of them), socialising, phones, course costs some course costs will be a lot more expensive than others, how often they travel home, students on the same course will have varying expenditure on say books, costumes, equipment etc etc.
I would work backwards and budget that way. A term is usually 39 weeks if they are just relying on Maintenance loan take off rent costs and divide the remainder by 39 to see what is left and see what they have to play with for phones, make up, social life, course costs, food, trips home and what he or she can cut back on etc etc.
Most students also have a part time job up to 15 hours a week term time to supplement their student income and in addition many work longer hours in holiday periods.

Hellsbellscockleshells Thu 15-Mar-18 22:26:59

See this link

woodlanddreamer Thu 15-Mar-18 22:31:15

We pay our DCs accomodation & they use their (minimum) loan to live on. It is plenty. DD has had a cheap holiday from money left over. Few books but that will depend on the course & most available 2nd hand on Amazon.

MoorMummy Thu 15-Mar-18 22:31:15

My son gets the minimum maintenance loan which is I think £3928. I’m paying his rent 🙄 which was 4004 this year and next year is 5300 ( excluding bills , it’s 52 week contract in quite a nice flat).

He had over 1k saved from working and I think he still has about half left. That said I see him regularly and provide most of his groceries as well as prepped and frozen meals ( he is only child and I would be the first to admit I indulge him).i also buy his clothes but he’s not really fussed about labels so that’s not a great outlay.

He’s managing very well, though when I read the above back I’m not surprised! No transport costs as uni is v close to his flat. He usually get a lift back home and I chip in for fuel.

I have said that that he will be responsible for paying his utility bills next year and I’m hoping he will be more self sufficient food wise. Again in his defence , his flat is adequate but he hasn’t made friends amongst his 10 flatmates , they are a very mixed bag. Most of them are also very scruffy and he hates using the communal kitchen as it’s frankly disgusting,

He’s managed to secure work over the summer so I’ve advised him to get a good stash of money for next year because his rent is a bit of a stretch for us and I’m not willing to pay any more.

Etymology23 Thu 15-Mar-18 22:35:06

I had between £30pw and £100pw when I was at uni a few years a go, after rent and electricity etc but before phone bill. £30pw inc food was bloody tight: even a cheap phone contract is £2 pw ish, plus food at say £20 pw, and then £13 left for everything else like clothes, books, train tickets, new inner tubes, birthday presents etc. £100 a week was plenty and I saved up quite a lot during those years.

I think you could be frugally comfortable on £50 pw, and a bit more than that to be comfortably comfortable. It’ll also depend if they’re doing a degree where term time Work is a realistic option.

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