London: the city of history, art, diversity, business and an incredibly lively atmosphere.
Unfortunately, all of this of vigor comes at a hefty price tag. Many students completely dismiss the option of studying at a London university, thanks to soaring rent and the price of a pint!
But then again, London is home to some of the best universities in the country and so many students weigh up the pros and cons and conclude that life in the capital city is certainly worth it.
Studying in London is undoubtedly a unique ‘student experience’. The experience is the polar opposite to campus life at Warwick, for example. Although living in London may seem overwhelming at first, it definitely isn’t a place to rule out. There are things to help you along the way, for instance Student Finance England offer higher maintenance loans to London students and wages are usually higher.
Let’s have a look at the cost of four areas important for students: housing, transport, food and nights-out
Student Accommodation in London
For the majority of students, housing is a matter of looking for a room wherever you can afford one. Student halls usually start at around £150 per week, but can easily go up to above £300 a week depending on the location.
Private rented accommodation is slightly cheaper, and you can find flats in zone 2 for £120+ per week. There are well-located and ‘studenty’ areas with cheaper rents in areas like Peckham, Tottenham, Brixton and Greenwich.
Rent is without question higher in London than other cities, for instance Birmingham University says the average price for halls are £123 pounds and private houses are on average £80 a week.
It’s important to note that living in larger groups is much more difficult in London, so forget renting a 12-bed Victorian mansion like your friends in Leeds.
London, however, commonly offer 10 month tenancies rather than 12 months which means students don’t have to fork out over summer.
Travel in the Capital
A downside to living in London as a student is that university buildings are scattered across the city, and so you are likely to have to join the commuters on crammed and delayed tubes.
UCL calculate that the average student spends £22.60 a week on travel, worked out by a weekly zone 1 Student Oyster pass. However, this can easily become more expensive if you live further out of the city. For instance, a zones 1-4 pass is £32.50 per week.
If you link your Oyster up to your student railcard then you save a third off the price during off-peak times. But in order to make those 9am lectures you’ll, unfortunately, have to cope with full fare prices. You can use the single fare finder on the TFL website to gauge the kind of amount you’d likely spend.
Food is generally no more expensive in London if you shop at one of the big chain supermarkets. The problem is, however, that larger supermarkets are few and far between in the centre and so students often have to cope with the expensive prices of a Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local. Equally, you are a lot less likely to find an Aldi or a Lidl which are student favourites. Nevertheless, NUS have estimated that students spend the same on food across the country.
In terms of eating out, central restaurants are likely to be more expensive for your average meal and they often whack on high service charges.
Numbeo estimates that on average, an ‘inexpensive meal’ at a restaurant in London would cost £15.00 whereas in Leicester it would be £13.50, and in Lancaster just £11.00. That said, as with everywhere in the country, if you research properly you can find some great cheap eats in London, see Franco Manca for example.
For many students, nights-out are the heart and soul of the uni experience. If you are living in London, however, you are going to have to prepare yourself for a lot more hassle. You won’t be having cheesy chips and walking home after £1 drinks, like you do in Newcastle upon Tyne.
London’s clubs are more catered to ‘event nights’ than student nights. Popular clubs are XOYO, The Nest, Egg and Bar Rumba. Earlybird tickets for club entrance are usually around £6-10, but fail to book in advance and you could be paying up to £25 depending on the DJs.
Last year’s study of beer prices showed that the national average price of a pint was £3.46 whereas in London it was £3.79. The same applies for inside the clubs, where Jägerbombs are around £5 in comparison to clubs in Leeds where they are £1.
But don’t fret, takeaways are similar prices to up north!
So there you have it. It is clear that prices in London are generally higher than other UK cities, but prices across the capital actually vary very widely.
While living in London may come at a cost, there are some significant long term benefits to studying there. London is the place for work experience and internships and so it’s a useful place to have as a base for making contacts and enhancing your employment options. Prepare yourself for higher prices, but do your research and you won’t have to reach too far into your pockets.