Maintenance/living costs for first year students?

(62 Posts)
CKCKCK Sun 02-Sep-18 12:42:27

First son is off to Uni soon (Bristol). Ignoring course fees and accommodation costs, what is reasonable to pay for living expenses? I.E. food, travel, washing/laundry, social/going out, activities, extra clothes if needed etc

Some of our friends seem to be giving about £80 per week for this, but that feels high to me, so wondering what others think or have experience of?

OP’s posts: |
AtiaoftheJulii Sun 02-Sep-18 16:39:14

We pay our kids' accommodation, and they live off the minimum maintenance loan, which is £4054 this year, so roughly £80/week. Depends what what you fund as well I suppose - e.g. my dc at uni pay for their own phones, whereas a lot of people seem to still pay for their student offspring's mobile contract.

FruitCider Sun 02-Sep-18 16:58:02

I went to uni in Bristol not so long ago, the maintenance loan will be enough.

WhirlyGigWhirlyGig Sun 02-Sep-18 17:14:33

Mine got just under £5k maintenance loan and she's worked this summer so with her wages and loan she can pay accommodation.
We'll pay her mobile contract and are thinking around £50 a week to live on. But if she wants to socialise then she'll need to find a job.

scaryteacher Sun 02-Sep-18 19:08:39

Ds has just finished 4 years at RHUL (Ba and then MA), I allowed £125 per week in term time to cover bills, emergencies etc, but we live abroad, so i liked to know he had a buffer. This was to cover books, pens, print costs, hard drives etc as well.

Washing is expensive if using college facilities. ds reckoned with drying, a load could cost £7.50.

LemonysSnicket Sun 02-Sep-18 19:38:44

I earned/spent around £6k a year which was around £125 per week. I funded that myself though.

LemonysSnicket Sun 02-Sep-18 19:41:23

And yes I used to do big loads of laundry on campus (so about 5 drums worth at a time) and this cost around £15-20) ad you often don't have the facilities to dry clothes anywhere but your room and that can cause a smell and damp - so the wash was £1.5 a go and the drier was £2

V expensive


Xenia Sun 02-Sep-18 19:56:05

You can't generalise as people differ to much. Just pay what you can afford and most of them cope with whatever they are given.Mine do quite well on my generous allowance £150 a week each 52 weeks a year and they are very very lucky indeed. That will however have to cover food during term time in years 2+ too, clothes, mobile, just about everything as we like the clarity of I pay that and that's it and I only do it on the basis they take out no student loan nor any loan of any kind at all.

BubblesBuddy Sun 02-Sep-18 20:22:28

OP. One of my DDs went to Bristol and it totally depends on what your DS wants to do and what he sees as important. Plenty of Bristol students join the sports club and this is expensive. Others live near the city centre and go to the clubs. There are several near the university campus too. If he isn’t going to want any of this you can probably get away with £50 a week. If he wants coffees and lunches out, to do any sport, pay for his phone and books and other university costs, he will need more. What about toiletries, clothes and train fares?

We did a zero based budget based on likely wants (not needs). DD spent her loan on the hall rent and that was a catered hall. We gave £400 a month. We paid for her phone. She joined in with quite a lot of the social life and was Chair of a ball committee. Bristol is a great place to be a student and what you spend depends on personality and interests plus what your friends do. Often students are friends with people like them. So quiet students seek out quiet students. Lively clubbing ones find lively clubbing friends. Then there’s all the students in between!

Needmoresleep Sun 02-Sep-18 22:32:28

Bubbles, do you mind me asking, but is this the same daughter that is a highly paid barrister, who owns her own flat, and is closer to 30 than 20? If so she will have gone through on the older loan scheme, and before the significant rise in Bristol property prices. From what you have said previously she even got to live in Clifton, something few students do now, and seems to have had quite a different student experience from many who attend the current expanded university.

Bristol is an odd one. Some kids have a lot - too much if they use this to buy drugs. Other survive on less. Generally unless you want them to be able to keep up with the party crowd, I would advise less. DD had £100 a week in her first year, which we expected to cover vacations as well. Terms are of different length so the first term was tight. She played for a University team so needed subs and kit...including a blazer. She spent less in the next couple of terms and did not need to dip into gap year savings, indeed managed to save. We paid phone, but she paid fares, books etc. One of her current flat mates (DD is going into second year) survives completely on student loan, supplemented by a University bursary and summer earnings. It does not seem to stop her playing sport or having a social life.

BubblesBuddy Mon 03-Sep-18 02:09:34

Op- I thought my post was constructive in that I tried to illustrate that as young people were different in what they wanted from their university experience it was therefore going to cost differing amounts. Some things they might want to do cost money and this needs to be in the mix. The student might work but some students have very full on degrees and do not have much spare time. This also needs to be considered. I do not see anything wrong with working out what you might need by evaluating the type of person you are and what you really want from the experience. If you cannot afford what you want, you have to think again or work! The prices of accommodation haven’t gone up that much when I see what people post on here. It’s not a particularly cheap city for a student and there are still plenty of students living in Clifton! The DS of a friend is there right now and the DD of a friend too. Another has just left. It was always the more expensive area though. Others are available!

Needmore: I don’t see that a personal attack on me, or my DDs profession, or the fact that she has a flat, or that she is doing well, or when my DD was at Bristol is remotely relevant. I guess you just stalk my posts and then regurgitate what you know about me whilst putting a nasty slant on everything you say that is aimed at me. God knows why?!! Plenty of posters talk about when they were at university! Plenty more talk about their DCs that I know are older than mine but what they say is still relevant experience. The good news is, Bristol students can do very well for themselves!

Adulting Mon 03-Sep-18 03:55:45

I've not been to uni in 3 years now, but I used to go to Manchester uni and my parents paid me £600 per month (which covered catered halls, lunches, bus fare, train tickets home, stationery and laundry). I also had full maintenance loan, so I had enough for societies and clubs, as well as sports kits. My course was pretty full on but I didn't have to take a job anyway. Just made do with what I had and I wasn't suffering! Hope that helps!

Rosemary46 Mon 03-Sep-18 08:03:57

My DD had budgeted for £65 a week but she over spent in the first term and by the third term was down to £50 a week.

I’d say that the £65 was ok but not a huge amount and the £50 was very tight. Most of her friends

She’s not a big drinker, as nights at the union use up a huge amount of cash. And she’s not into balls or formal functions.

She over spent on take away food, eating out and clothes shopping. Even at Nando’s and Primark prices , that soon adds up.

She has a very full on course so it’s hard to get a part time job.

This year she has a lot more spare cash as her accommodation is much cheaper .

Xenia Mon 03-Sep-18 08:38:48

And it can be done cheaply if you want. I was teetotal at university for example and drank tap water. That's quite cheap. I did things like choirs - absolutely masses of music and that was just about free and church - they don't charge you to go in there and loads of work as I loved the subject and won prizes. Mind you I am not sure my children want to emulate the "graduate a teetotal virgin with academic prizes" advice.....

Having 2 children at university at present I know that people vary at a lot in what money they have and that most people work out what works on their budget. There are definitely people with very little money at every university who manage fine.

AtiaoftheJulii Mon 03-Sep-18 09:17:36

I tried to illustrate that as young people were different in what they wanted from their university experience it was therefore going to cost differing amounts.

The trouble is, I don't suppose most parents have deep enough pockets - if their kids say, "I want to do x, y and z, and it's going to cost a lot", they can't just give them more money! I think it's better for the student to be given a fixed amount and learn to cut their cloth, or supplement their income - that is how most of us live after university after all grin

Waltzingmatilda65 Mon 03-Sep-18 09:32:28

However much you decide on your DC should learn budgeting, money saving and managing money tips and cooking skills as this will help them whilst at uni.

Say divide his ML by 39 (number of weeks in academic year) to live off if you say pay his rent as well.
Most students have a pt job to supplement their student funding. Maximum ML is about £8500 & students on this are expected to pay rent and all living costs out of this. Also it is unlikely that students receiving this sort of awards parents will be in a position to pay the student a penny towards living costs. So you could top up their maintenance loan including the figure for to rent say £8500 or £8600 or whatever the maximum loan is for those on a low household income.

Needmoresleep Mon 03-Sep-18 13:17:52

Bubbles, last year you were presenting your DDs first year Bristol experience as current. DD was having a tough time as were others, as the City, University, student finance, and welfare provisions have changed. It was really odd as you never seemed to acknowledge known problems, even those that happened in your DDs hall, leaving me and presumably others feeling our DC were sad Billy-no-mates. But then later started threads which suggested that your daughter's first year was some time ago.

I am sure that before perveying her advice to us, your daughter is making sure her information is up to date. Even so I think it is reasonable to ask you to qualify it by stating it is history experience, or for others to question some of it. From what you have posted your daughter lived in Clifton. Yes, DD knows someone who lives in Clifton. However he is a professional footballer not a student. And that your daughter expected to conduct a social life hanging out in coffee bars. Again some do. But many many others, are meal planning, investing in tupperware and cutting back on their meat intake. They have fun too, but in a different, more traditional student way.

My point is that as a parent I am happy that my daughter's friends are mainly on tight budgets. There is some very louche behaviour at Bristol and there is no disadvantage in being priced out. Though in practice the boarding school crowd seem generally uninterested in mixing with others, but instead have their own social circuit, including grand 21st birthday parties etc, whilst the rest of the University seems reasonably diverse and accepting.

Sport was expensive and the first term was long. DD probably managed on £75pw then and £50 for the rest. Plus a big Lidl shop for basics at the start of each term. But be careful. Food stealing is rife, indeed other stealing is rife. The irony is that, at least from DDs observation, those with most are often the ones who respect other people's property least.

BubblesBuddy Mon 03-Sep-18 15:16:57

So DD is now described as louche and unable to mix with other students! Dear God is there no end to this rudeness? As your DD has only been there a year and presumably doesn’t want to live in Clifton, that’s fine. There are huge numbers of students who do. The reference to a footballer is almost laughable! Yes, I’m sure he shares a student house!

I have clearly advised that the best way to work out costs is to start at zero and Work up to what you can afford. The ceiling is different according to wants and the money available from parents. Some people won’t need to do that but we did and many others do. That has nothing to do with when you went to university - it’s just a common sense thing to do. If the money from loan and home isn’t enough you either scale back or work. Not much else to be done really.

Many students at Bristol don’t seem to have jobs in Bristol during term time. DD was friends with a lot of students with full on courses (from a variety of backgrounds) but they worked hard and likes to socialise with the odd coffee and night out. It wasn’t excessive and it wasn’t louche. Many took holiday jobs though and they did budget for their needs on what they were given during the term. The union there isn’t particularly a huge social hub so lots of students prefer a night out in the city. There are presumably plenty who sit and watch tv with their Tupperware full of lentils and tofu.

Actually, Xenia, my DD sang in choirs at university. Still does sing in a choir. The water didn’t feature though!

Needmoresleep Mon 03-Sep-18 15:45:41

Dont be silly. Your DD left University many years ago. Bristol has changed. The highest concentration of cocaine in its sewers of any city in britain!

Once again. There are very few trad student flats left in Clifton. Bristol house prices have skyrocketed over the past few years, partly the impact of the high speed train, and many LLs have taken their money and run, or have done up their properties to attract richer tenants. Yes students whose parents can afford to give them more, will be able to afford to live there, but for most it is now beyond budget.

I also dont think zero based budgeting helps if you dont earn much. If you can afford £50pw that is what you can afford. If that is not enough, you have to work out how to supplement it. DDs flatmate manages to survive on her loan, but has been able to sucessfully apply for a University bursary, plus works through the summer and saves. Term time working depends on course. Some courses, including hers, are very heavily loaded.

Sorry. I dont mean to get at you. However I am not sure you always realise how patronising or intimidating you can sound. Not everyone has comfortable incomes (am I right in thinking your DH is a well paid engineer and you have a high powered legal background) and high flying DC, who have thrived socially and academically at University. Many of us have had to hand hold our DC through various parts of the process, and come here looking for sympathy and support.

user1471450935 Mon 03-Sep-18 21:36:00

Ds gets the basic maintenance loan, as we earn just above cut off.
His loan won't even cover his en suite room, we need to add £257/ term.
We have spent some of our savings to get him ready and have bought cereals and things like shampoo and body wash as we go along. Same with cleaning products and laundry items. He is learning to cook cheap and cheerful, one pot meals, which can be frozen and stored for later. He and us are taking loads of photos of receipes he finds in cook books and online, and he is storing on his mobile, so he can transfer to a file on his new laptop, his old one is 6 years old and so slow.
He has done lots of odd jobs and delivered 2 lots of phonebooks, to get some money to go.
We have bought him a years worth of entry, in advance, for student union stuff, so £160, saving £600.
We will provide frozen meals from home.
He will join the rugby team.
He already knows he needs ajob, and has been following university job watch and the Cities FB for job vacancies.
If needs be we will top up his wages, but will see how he gets on.
City is in top ten cheapest in UK though.
He certainly won't be get £100+ per week though.

MajesticWhine Mon 03-Sep-18 21:41:55

Can you two stop arguing about Bristol and your personal circumstances? It's boring on what might have been a useful thread.

DD is not getting a loan this year. We are thinking about giving her £100 per week for living expenses for the weeks she is in uni. She should get a holiday job for the rest of the time, or make it stretch. However we already pay for phone contract. We will have to review after a term and see how it is working. We asked her to make a list of what she thinks she needs but she has not produced this yet.
I used this as a guide. She is not going to Exeter but the list seemed like a good starting point.

user1471450935 Mon 03-Sep-18 21:47:06

Forgot to add,
We have got him a NUS card, for about £32 for 3 years, which gets him discounts. He will use the free Studentprime offer for 6 months and a kodi stick we have, but never used for tv.
We visited the city, so know within walking distance there are a Morrison's, B&M and Home Bargains stores, plus TK Maxx and an ASDA at home. Plus Tesco express and Sainsbury's Local stores.
He has learnt of his grannie and us that you can eat well of reduced items, especially if pop in last hour before store closes.

We want him to get the most out of leaving home and enjoy every new thing his new friends and he can find, so by teaching him how to buy cheaply, we hope to maximise this entertainment funds (from his job)

user1471450935 Mon 03-Sep-18 21:59:34

Good luck to your DD.
WE have found loads of useful Vlogs on youtube which are about his halls of residence, and list of needs and don'ts and also very rough cost guides.
We have said we will assist, but are waiting until after freshers and what job he can get, before we set any budgets. We are slightly fortunate, in having some savings, started 25 years ago due to mature in next month, so will be a some money there if needs. But also have a second child to look after.
It is so hard, especially seeing there is no standard cost of accommodation across the country and every one gets different maintenance amounts.
Plus on MN either the parents seem to be private/public school users, so saving money on no longer having fees to pay or be hard earners. We aren't poor, but in neither of those categories.
Certainly won't be giving him £4000+ or £150/week.
That's scary.

Needmoresleep Mon 03-Sep-18 22:25:00

Sorry Majestic. OP mentioned Bristol, and DD has just gone into second year, so I though her experience that you did not need loads might be useful. DD had heard tales about Bristol being stuffed full of rich kids, slightly intimidating. Rich kids with lots to spend do exist, but many manage on less. But will bow out if that is not helpful.

MajesticWhine Mon 03-Sep-18 22:31:07

It is helpful. It was just the personalised argument... grin
I think on mn there will be so many different circumstances. I am worried that DD will be one of those with too much spend. She has not shown a great work ethic of late and seems to expect everything to be handed to her on a plate. Therefore we don't want to give her too much.

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