Whether you’re an international student, home student or a part-time student with a full-time career, budgeting for your studies will always be a primary concern.
If you’re new to the UK we understand that setting funds aside for living costs, social activities and course fees can be confusing, especially as living costs can vary quite dramatically between cities and regions. The great thing about Manchester though is that for a large, vibrant and stylish city, living costs are significantly lower than the capital, a fact we’re sure will come as a relief!
But while our popular city offers reasonably priced accommodation (both student properties and private rentals) great entertainment at student-friendly prices and low-cost supermarkets for grocery shopping, it’s always useful to carefully plan your expenditures before you head to the UK.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled university advice, the real-life experiences of graduates and average student property rents to determine just how much you can expect to spend while studying the UK. This will help you when applying for a Visa, determining how much help you may need from family and ultimately, allow you to budget realistically.
Course fees vary widely between institutions and levels of study, so it’s important to contact your institution to find out how much you’ll be paying as soon as you decide on your course. New College Manchester has a webpage dedicated to fees, as do many colleges and universities, so you can quickly and accurately determine exactly how much you’ll be paying for your length of study and contact hours.
Aside from your course fees, accommodation is the second biggest expenditure for most students (depending on the cost of your course) and it is usually wise to look beyond the rental price when choosing your Manchester home and consider the extras (such as the internet).
Manchester University estimates that a typical academic year (around 42 – 52 weeks) will on average cost somewhere between £4,400 and £5,000. Of course, accommodation costs can be altered according to your needs and properties with a communal bathroom are usually cheaper. Based on student and graduate testimonials, these price guides are generally representative of what you can expect to pay for student accommodation in Manchester.
For example, Hardy Farm student accommodation costs £75 per week for a full year’s stay with free high-speed internet, shared bathrooms and bills included (additional free items such as internet or laundry facilities are great for saving up to £25 per month). This will work out at £3,900 a year, with en-suite accommodation usually commanding higher rates.
Renting a property with bills included in the rent will usually push your rent up, but some students find that knowing everything is included puts their mind at ease (just be aware of any restrictions which may require you to contribute if you exceed your allowance).
Predicting how much you will have to set aside for bills if utilities aren’t included can be tricky and dependent on the property and provider, so many international students find that accommodation with bills and internet included is the most straightforward choice.
Insurance to cover your contents in case of theft or damage is often considered an essential expenditure for students who simply couldn’t afford the cost or time involved in replacing lost or stolen possessions. It’s always best shopping around for the best insurance plan and always be sure to read the small print so you know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t!
Some companies, for example, will only cover certain items if they’re taken from your individual bedroom. Endsleigh is a popular NUS approved student insurance provider and, as a guide, offers policies starting from £9.99 per month.
The relationship between food and students is one which often seems to be perceived at two extremes. Either students are eating baked beans for every meal or they’re spending £15 each evening at expensive takeaway chains! Where food is concerned, students get an unfair reputation and speaking to graduates who’ve navigated the delights of student cooking, students don’t eat like paupers or princes, in fact, they actually eat food similar to that they’d have at home. Honestly!
We spoke to a group of graduates about their food shopping habits and we found that most students agreed around £30 per week of their budgets were spent on food (that’s breakfast, lunch and dinner). This amount covered fresh meat, occasional convenience meals (such as frozen pizza), vegetables, fruit and snacks from mainstream supermarkets such as Tesco.
Of course, if you’re a vegetarian you can probably use more vegetables and pulses and spend less, but whatever your diet there’s some great student cookbooks out there with handy tips on bulk cooking and creating great meals from just a few ingredients.
We’ve highlighted some of the great student discounts available in previous posts and while it’s difficult to determine how much you’ll spend on socialising and entertainment, there are so many great offers around to help students save on standard prices.
Asking if student discounts are available wherever you go (always carry your student card) is worthwhile as is investing in an NUS Extra Card or downloading apps such as 02 Priority (for 02 network customers) and vouchercloud. On average a trip to the cinema in Manchester will cost somewhere between £5.50 – £15.00 (depending on the screen), a meal out at a chain restaurant will cost somewhere between £15 – £20 for a two-course meal and soft (non-alcoholic) drink.
The great thing about living and studying in the city is that it’s possible to walk everywhere (not to mention good for you!) but if your accommodation is just outside of the city centre you may wish to get a weekly bus pass. Weekly passes will often allow you unlimited travel around the city for as little as £13 per week.
If you’re going out for the night and call for a taxi (always call for a licensed taxi, especially if alone) a 3-mile journey should cost around £6 (although this might slightly increase later at night). Manchester also has numerous well-connected train stations, and a single ticket from Manchester Piccadilly train station to Manchester Airport costs around £4.
If you’re still feeling a little blinded by numbers, the International Student Calculator can help you determine exactly how much you can afford to spend. Remember if, in doubt, it’s always better to overestimate a little and have some funds left over to save.