How much rent should a student pay?

Before you go to uni, you’ll probably have lots of questions about paying for your accommodation. Here’s an idea of rent, other costs, funding, and how to pay.

Half of your living costs at university may go towards your rent

This might sound like a lot, but don’t worry if you have a budget to stick to. There’s a range of student accommodation – all with higher or lower costs – and you may be able to get student finance or funding to help.

If you’re wondering how much rent costs at a university you’re interested in, check the UCAS accommodation search. If you’d like to live in university halls of accommodation, you can check how much they cost now and get an idea of which factors influence rent the most – like how modern the accommodation is, or how near to the university campus.

Here are some things to think about.

1. How is accommodation paid for at uni?

Through student finance you may be able to get a ‘maintenance loan’, designed to pay for your living costs at uni – including rent. This loan might not be enough though. Depending on the cost of rent at your chosen university, or how frugal or thrifty you’re aiming to be, you might need to find another source of money to cover your costs.

If you know you won’t be able to make the maintenance loan stretch to all your outgoings, it can be worthwhile having some alternatives in mind before you go.

  • See if you’re eligible to receive a bursary as extra funding.
  • Arrange part-time work alongside your studies.
  • Save up in advance or get family support.
  • Consider accommodation that costs less.

2. Where will you be living?

Places like London have the highest living costs – so if you study there, you’ll probably spend more than students in the rest of the country.

What type of accommodation you choose will make a difference too. Generally, places that are right in the middle of a city or town centre can cost a bit more. Some of the more modern accommodation is a little pricier too, but might come with extra luxuries. These could include things like gyms, en suite bathrooms/wet rooms, on-site bars, and larger bedrooms or shared living spaces.

3. What other bills will you have to pay?

If rent accounts for about half your spending, what exactly are all the other things you’ll need money for? Once you’re clear on all these other outgoings besides your rent, you can start to think about how to make your money work for you.

Some typical outgoings might be:

  • course equipment or books
  • food, drink and home supplies
  • utilities – gas, water, electricity
  • internet and phone bills
  • university kit for sports courses or teams
  • gym membership
  • travel costs at uni and for visiting home
  • nights out, parties, society events

4. What’s your budget?

If you haven’t had to budget before, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s really just about knowing what cash you’ve got coming in and out – then knowing how much is left over after your rent and bills are paid. That way you’ll hopefully avoid running out of money and having to eat baked beans for weeks!

Try making a list of everything you’ll spend in a typical month, then see if your expected funds can match it. If they don’t, that’s ok – maybe you can find accommodation with a lower rent. Or you could see where some additional cash can come in – perhaps find part-time work, bursaries, savings etc.

5. How to prioritise where you spend your money?

Lots of students have to make sure they stretch out their money and have enough left at the end of each semester. When you’re studying at uni, the money pot can go down surprisingly fast. The obvious answer is to buy fewer things, but spend your cash where it really counts.

You might be invited on a night out and a new society event on the same day, then realise you can’t afford them both (never mind be in two places at once!). Maybe choose what you value the most in that moment – fun or a new experience?


6. Where can you get money advice?

If you find you can’t pay your rent, most universities can help you go over the solutions. Get in touch with reception, support teams, money advisers or the accommodation team.

Or if you have any questions now you could also chat to a student already at uni. They’re probably paying rent already, so they might have thought about something from a completely different angle.