If you are wondering how expansive it is to live in the UK, then this page is for you. On this page, we will go through all of the details about the cost of living in the UK. We will expand on various living expenses like rent, groceries, transportation, utility bills, phone plans, and gym memberships. We have specifically tailored this page for Canadian international students who are looking to study in the UK.
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Cost of Living in the UK for Students
If you are a university student, then expect the average cost of living in the UK to be $2,000 CAD (£1,225 GBP) a month. This includes your rent, food, transportation, utility bills, phone plan, and gym membership but excludes tuition costs as they vary drastically between universities.
- Average cost of rent – $1,250 CAD (£750 GBP) a month
- Average cost of food – $400 CAD (£240 GBP) a month
- Average cost of transportation – $160 CAD (£100 GBP) a month
- Average utility bills – $80 CAD (£50 GBP) a month
- Average cost of a phone plan – $40 CAD (£25 GBP) a month
- Average cost of gym membership – $70 CAD (£45 GBP) a month
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London Cost of Living
The cost of living for university students in London is higher than in the rest of the UK and it is $2,740 CAD (£1,675 GBP). This includes your rent, food, transportation, utility bills, phone plan, and gym membership but excludes university tuition costs. London tends to have higher prices for almost everything, which drastically affects the average cost of living.
- Average cost of rent – $1,500 CAD (£900 GBP) a month
- Average cost of food – $760 CAD (£464 GBP) a month
- Average cost of transportation – $245 CAD (£150 GBP) a month
- Average utility bills – $115 CAD (£70 GBP) a month
- Average cost of a phone plan – $40 CAD (£25 GBP) a month
- Average cost of gym membership – $80 CAD (£50 GBP) a month
Prices for renting student accommodation on average are $1,250 CAD (£750 GBP) a month. The rent prices can change dramatically not only whether you live in London or outside, but depending on the type of your living arrangement. In the first year of university, the vast majority of students stay in student halls (student residences). In the second and third years, students tend to rent rooms in houses with other students. Of course, renting an entire apartment (flat) to yourself is also possible, but that could be costly.
- First-year rent (student residence) – $1,250 CAD (£750 GBP) a month
- Second-year rent – $1,050 CAD (£650 GBP) a month
- Third-year rent – $1,050 CAD (£650 GBP) a month
In London, however, you should expect to pay on average $1,500 CAD (£900 GBP) in rent a month.
Cost of Food/Groceries
The groceries prices in the UK are on average, $100 CAD (£60 GBP) a week or $400 CAD (£240 GBP) a month. Of course, food prices can vary dramatically depending on your diet, preferred dishes, quality of food etc. However, our estimate is based on what the average student in the UK spends on groceries.
Not all groceries stores or supermarkets are the same in terms of prices in the UK. University students tend to shop at Aldi, Lidl, Tesco, or Asda. Below is the ranking of supermarkets from cheapest to most expensive:
The average cost of travel in the UK is $160 CAD (£100 GBP) a month. Many students tend to live either on-campus or within walking distance from campus. For those, travel costs will usually be at a minimum. But of course, some students absolutely have to use public transportation to go to their lectures and seminars. In bigger cities like London you may not have an option but to use public transport.
The average cost of utility bills is $80 CAD (£50 GBP) for students that rent a room in student accommodations. If you live in student accommodation (student halls) in your first year, you will not be responsible for paying for the utilities, they will be included in your monthly rent. If you choose to live off-campus in your second and third years you will most likely have to cover utility bills, which would be equally split between all students living in the house. However, some landlords also include utilities in monthly rent.
Phone Plan Prices
In the UK, the average monthly mobile bill is $40 CAD (£25 GBP). Phone plans would include unlimited calling, unlimited texting, and a good amount of mobile data – everything that a student would need. In Canada, similar phone plans would be double that and close to $80 a month. So you will definitely be saving some money!
Gym and Fitness Prices
Many university students go to a gym or attend some sort of fitness classes. The average cost of a gym membership in the UK is $70 CAD (£45 GBP) a month. This would usually include access to the weight room as well as all sorts of fitness classes like yoga, pilates, etc. Keep in mind that gym prices vary drastically from city to city or even the type of gym. See below for further breakdown:
- Most university gyms will cost $65 CAD (£40 GBP) a month
- Most mid-range gyms will cost around $115 CAD (£70 GBP) a month
- Most high-end gyms will cost over $200 CAD (£120 GBP) a month
Cost of Living in Canada vs UK
The average cost of living in Canada is $3,010 CAD, while in the UK, it is $2,000 CAD a month. The UK is nearly 33% cheaper for students to live and study in than Canada.
As a Canadian looking to study in the UK, you should probably have a clear picture of how similar or different the cost of living is between the two countries. In the table below, you can see the comparison.
Type of Expense
4 Tips for Saving Money as a University Student in the UK
Since now you are familiar with how expensive it is to live in the UK, we will provide you with some tips on how you can make it more affordable
You can easily save hundreds of pounds a month by sharing your flat or a house with other students. Yes, most students will live in student halls in their first years where you would likely have an en-suite. But in your second and third years of university, you can share your housing with other students. What usually happens is that students make friends in their first year, either in student halls or during their studies then they and a group of friends would rent a house or an apartment together for the rest of their studies. All of you will end up saving quite a lot of money. Of course, you can choose to live on your own but that would be very costly and if you can afford it then go for it!
As an international student, all of your money will likely be in your domestic currency, Canadian dollars. You will very quickly rack up the foreign exchange and overseas charges on your card if you use your Canadian bank card in the UK. If you open a UK bank account, you will save some money on those transfer fees and exchange rates. Many banks have cheap student accounts, which you qualify for as an international student.
You can find a lot of deals and coupons on various things in the UK. For example, every grocery store has weekly or even daily savings flyers that you can take advantage of! Restaurants and take-out places have either student discounts or student days, allowing you to go out and have a good time without worrying about your wallet. More than that, there are numerous student loyalty programs that many stores participate in. Sign up for as many as you can and gather all of the points to redeem them for something that you really crave.
As an international student in the UK, you can work up to 20 hours during term time and up to 40 hours during holidays. You can always get a part-time job if you are motivated enough to make some extra cash. Many international students work in the UK. Even if you work one or two days a week, it will still allow you to offset the cost of living and the cost of your tuition.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Cost of Living in the UK
Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about the topic:
How much money do you need to live comfortably in the UK as a student?
Based on our research, students need between $2,000 CAD and $2,740 CAD (£1,225 GBP – £1,675 GBP) to live comfortably in the UK. The particular cost for you will primarily depend on the location of your study. Students living in London will typically have to pay more compared to students living outside of London. Also, a lot depends on your lifestyle, and if you have a very high standard of living and require a lot of expensive items, the cost of living will be higher for you.
Is it cheaper to live in Canada or the UK?
Based on our research, it is cheaper to live and study in the UK compared to Canada by almost 33%. In Canada, the average cost of living is $3,010 CAD, while in the UK, it is $2,000 CAD a month.
What are the average living expenses in the UK?
Average living expenses in the UK come up to $2,000 CAD (£1,225 GBP) a month. This includes all of the essentials that students need like rent, groceries, transportation, gym, phone plan, and utility bills. However, this excludes university tuition as it varies drastically.
Is it better to study in Canada or UK?
This will depend on many factors because preference as to where it is better to study is highly personal. Firstly, the university where you will study will be one of the main factors when considering Canada vs the UK, some universities are simply better than others. Secondly, you should take into consideration the costs of your degree because some programs may be cheaper and faster to complete abroad. For example, studying law in the UK is faster and cheaper than in Canada. Lastly, if you are looking for new experiences then the UK is definitely a better choice. In the UK you’ll be able to be immersed in its culture and experience living abroad. Also, Europe is just a flight away, you can always go on weekend adventures to any country in Europe.
Are salaries better in UK or Canada?
General salaries tend to be better in Canada. The average salary in the UK is $62,211, while in Canada, people on average, make $72,000 a year. Also, lawyer salaries in Canada are, on average, $126,595, while in the UK, they are $73,500 a year.