Student Bills: The Ultimate Guide

Student Bills: The Ultimate Guide! Sharing accommodation with others can require a lot of negotiating. Whose turn is it to clean the bathroom this week? Yuk! Facing up to the challenge of managing and negotiating bills can be even harder, and that’s where we come in.

This guide is full of current information about what costs a student in the UK can expect to pay.

The guide also covers tips on how to manage your bills, especially if you’re living with others.

What are the average cost of bills as a student?

If you’re planning to study away from home, you’re going to need some idea of a budget. Any savings you can bring will help. There’s often start up costs associated with moving into a new house (you might be thinking about your sweet new console, but don’t forget the random stuff like towels, potato peeler, desk etc. Aside from the home basics – you’ll need to organise, there also can be additional fees at the start of a new lease. So many student bills! Ph, and not to mention text books and everything you’ll need to actually, you know, study. 😉

We will start with an overall picture of these personal costs then will work down to specifics. On average, you will need to budget about £12 000 per year to cover all of your expenses. Yes, that’s a lot of student bills! (£15 000 if you’re based in London, thanks London housing prices…). This figure does not include the cost of tuition. Yikes!

£12,000 a year just to live?! That seems like a lot! How are these broken down?

This guide breaks down each student bill cost you will need to think about so you can plan accordingly. Remember, all of these are averages and there may be areas where you can save or areas where it will cost you more.

The second section of this article we will share more on household bills. Or you can just jump straight to the Special Student Bills Packages section.

Below we will have a look at what are general student bills.

Rent For Student Accommodation

Weekly cost across the UK: £134

Weekly cost in London: £226

Student Bills Saving Tips:

This will probably be your biggest student bill expense. Roofs tend to be a bit important… Rent prices will be influenced by the location of the property and its condition. Most student properties have more than one person listed on the lease. Quite often the rooms are rented individually. This means you will be responsible for paying your own room rental cost. Student halls will incur different costs. There may be additional charges to cover utilities or meals.

Food and groceries

Weekly cost across the UK and London: £37.50 (£150/month)

Student Bills Saving Tips:

Housing costs are higher in London, but supermarket prices are generally the same. You can be flexible with your food budget, depending on the quality of food you buy, and where you shop. (You don’t need to really need to shop at Waitrose if you’re a student, unless you’re as posh as say, Jack Whitehall) Whoo hoo! A place you can save on the bills.

Public transport

Annual cost across the UK: between £118/year and £347/year, depending on which city you live in.

Annual cost in London: Can be as much as £1000 if you need an Oyster Card during term time (ouch!)

Student Bills Saving Tips:

In London, check out a 18+ student oyster card that covers travel zones 1-3 for £28 per week. The bus and of course walking or cycling are cheaper. Whether that is possible or not depends how close you live to campus.

For anywhere in the UK in general, you can pick up a full time study age 16-25 Railcard for an annual fee of £30. It’ll save you around a third of the cost of each journey you take. You could also buy a second hand bike, which would save more long term.

Textbooks

Cost: variable

Student Bills Saving Tips:

The price of textbooks is difficult to pin down, as they will vary from course to course. The best thing to do is check out second-hand websites and Buy Sell Swap pages on social media. You can usually find (often barely used) textbooks for a huge discount. And always confirm if you need the latest edition too – the older ones are often cheaper again

Mobile phone

Contract: £25-£50 per month

PAYG: £5-£30 per month

Student Bills Saving Tips:

This may not be a new cost to you if you’ve already got a phone and you’re bringing it with you. If you’re in the market for a new one, you have two options. You can lock in to a 18-24 month contract. This will get you a brand new phone, decent downloads and minutes for between £25-£50 per month. If you’re looking to keep costs down or you already have a handset you like, check out Pay As You Go (PAYG). All you need to do is pick up a credit voucher once a month for between £5-£30 depending on your usage.

Insurance

From £10.99/month

Student Bill Saving Tips:

You might not think this is important. When the pipes burst in your apartment or a power problem damages your laptop, you’ll change your mind! From £10.99 a month you can insure your electronics and other belongings against theft, fire, vandalism and more. Check out Money Supermarket or another comparison site to see which works best for you.

Leisure

Cost: entirely up to you!

Student Bills Saving Tips:

Also known as discretionary spending, this is the money you spend on the fun stuff. It could be new fashion, a bevvy or two at the pub or your growing collection of lava lamps. This discretionary spend is where you’ll have the most flexibility when it comes to saving money.

What are the other bills you will need to pay for as an adult?

Living as a student is often about simplifying and reducing costs. There’s not always a lot of fat in the budget to cover the larger expenses. Once you graduate and start working full time, there will be additional costs to think about. For starters, you’ll probably want to move out of shared student digs pretty sharply. After all it’s now time to find a place of your own (a place without mystery socks and unclaimed dirty dishes).

Housing

Renting may still be your best bet straight out of university. The cost of renting will likely go up because you’ll be either living on your own or with one or two others. That means every cost will split fewer ways and you’ll have council tax to pay. Let’s be honest, you’ll probably want to rent something a bit nicer than a student flat. If you are considering buying a place, brace yourself. You need to provide a deposit when you take out a mortgage. At the moment, the average house deposit in UK is £33 000. If you want to live in London, you’ve got to find around £91 400. The average purchase price of property around the UK varies a lot. Here’s some average house prices to give you an idea of what it will cost to own your own home.

• Cardiff £192 900

• Edinburgh £200 600

• Glasgow £115 100

• Liverpool £116 00

• Manchester £150 600

• Southampton £223 100

• Oxford £430 200

• Birmingham £147 400

• Leeds £154 600

• Sheffield £128 400

• Newcastle £123 900

• Leicester £160 500

• Bristol £263 100

• Cambridge £418 000

• London £500 000

Transport

Cost: variable, dependent on location

Say goodbye to discounted fares and hello to more expensive public transport. Buying a car might be an option now, but there’s a lot of ongoing costs that come with that. Think: purchase price, insurance, registration, fuel, services, parking charges. It’ll really depend on what sort of work you end up in and how good public transport facilities are.

Attire

Example: Zara 3 piece suit (trousers/shirt/jacket) approximately £150

You can get away with comfy jeans and hoodies in class, but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to pull that off in an office tower. Investing in some classic office gear will set you back, not to mention the dry cleaning costs.

Insurance

Example: average UK health insurance policy costs £1120 per year

Contents insurance is important like in your student days, but there’s more to consider now. When you’re working you need other insurance cover that don’t apply to student life. There’s life insurance, income protection, health insurance and mortgage insurance to start with. If you have a car, that will need insuring too. The list feels long, but the stakes are higher so it makes sense to protect yourself. It’s impossible to say what your insurance costs could look like as a fully blown working adult adult. That’s because the insurance companies set the premiums based on your individual situation.

Student Bills

Special Student Bills Packages

There’s no getting around it – the bills must be paid. We’ll talk about how to manage sharing the bills in the next section. There’s a lot involved with keeping a house running, which can come as a shock if you’ve moved out of home for the first time. Let’s take a look at what sort of bills you’ll be responsible for as a student (and which ones you don’t have to pay – yay!)

Student Utilities Packages

What are utility bills for?

We think it’s a good idea to keep the lights on and the house warm. That’s where making sure your utility bills are paid on time is very important, you know – to have hot water in the shower and a refrigerator that keeps your food cold.

Here is where acasa services can make a very big difference. acasa services will allow you to set up your gas and electric bills in less than 2 minutes and also will auto split your bill with your fellow students. This will help protect you from having a housemate who does not pay his or her share as everyone is billed directly.

If you want to do further research that you are getting the best deal, comparison websites are very helpful! EnergyHelpline or USwitch are great for comparing household services. There are often discounts if you package electricity and gas with the same provider. Organise electronic billing or pay with direct debit for further discounts. Fixing the tariff may also work in your favour, as prices typically increase each year. Read your meter and confirm the figures with your provider to ensure you’re paying the right amount. Here are three of the best value electricity providers to get you started.

1. EDF Energy offers good value and good customer service. There are no cancellation fees – which is perfect for people with 9 month academic year leases.

2. nPower are known for cheaper tariffs but lower quality customer service. They have cancellation fees, so beware.

3. SSE provide competitive tariffs and gift vouchers. The cancellation fee can be quite steep so make sure you’ve planned ahead.

4. Of course acasa services that provides your gas/electricity via Octopus Energy is our recommended option. acasa services does not charge cancellation fees and will keep you and your housemates informed about what you are paying via the acasa app.

Student Wifi/Broadband Packages

utility bill

There are student broadband packages that are available as a 9 month contract. It may seem better and work with your uni term time, but these deals can be more expensive. If you take on a 12 month contract there may be cancellation fees if you close the account early. The best option may be a 12 month deal even if the house is empty for periods and it goes unused. The router is sometimes included for free, although even if you do have to pay it’s likely to be less than £10. If there’s no landline at the property, installation of a new line can cost extra. Some providers include connection as part of the monthly fee, others require payment upfront.

Here are the top 5 value for money broadband bundles available (as of March 2017)

  1. Origin Broadband

• up to 17mbps

• 12 month contract

• £18.49 monthly rental landline included

2. Plusnet Unlimited broadband + calls

• up to 17 mbps

• 12 month contract

• £20.49 monthly rental landline included

3. Virgin Media Superfast Broadband

• up to 50 mbps

• 12 month contract

• £32 monthly rental landline included

4. EE Broadband & weekend calls

• up to 17 mbps

• 18 month contract

• £19.50 monthly rental landline included

5. BT unlimited broadband + weekend calls

• up to 17 mbps

• 12 month contract

• £24.99 monthly rental landline included

Student Water

Cost: standard tariff for England and Wales: £389

Student Bills Saving Tips:

Some landlords incorporate water charges into the rent, so you may not have to worry about a water bill. If you do have to manage the water bill yourself, it’s simple. There is only one water provider per area, so there is no need to shop around for a good deal. For example, in the Greater London area the provider is Thames Water. There are two ways to manage water bills. You can install a water meter. This is commonly free to install and will be read twice a year, which means one bill only every 6 months. The meter gives you the chance to monitor your usage and may encourage you to use less water overall. Otherwise the property may be on a standard tariff of £389/year, billed monthly or annually.

Student Council Tax

Cost: £0

Student Bills Saving Tips:

Council tax is billed monthly to every property. The charge is to covers services like garbage collection and sewerage maintenance. The good news is full time students are exempt from paying council tax. You must contact your local council to register yourself as a ‘disregarded person’. Every council has a different process to do this. Depending on how tech savvy your council is, it may be as simple as an online form. Most councils are online so it’s unlikely you’ll have to run documents to the council office. Be aware that non-students are required to pay council tax, even if they are the only one at the property.

TV Licence

Cost: £145.50

Student Bills Saving Tips:

If you watch live TV on any device or access BBC iPlayer online, you will need to purchase a TV Licence. If you have an individual tenancy (e.g. rent a room in a flat) you will need to purchase your own licence separately. If you share an occupancy with others (e.g. have every tenant listed on the lease agreement together) then one licence will do. You can apply to have a partial refund of the licence fee if you return home for the summer. A TV Licence currently costs £145.50 per year and is payable annually or as monthly instalments.

Satellite/Cable TV

Cost: from around £16/month

Student Bills Saving Tips:

Once you’ve paid up your TV Licence, you’ll have access to Freeview, the free digital TV channels. This is often enough for students with the competing demands of study and a pumping social life. If you do want more than the basics, like more channels or a sports package, check out a Sky TV bundle. They currently start from £16.13/month. Check with the landlord about permission to install a satellite dish before committing! (They are likely to agree, as it tends to raise the rental value of the property). Often, these extra TV services can be bundled with your broadband, so check with your provider.

Managing the costs between tenants – how do you split the bills?

So now we’ve got a good idea of the costs you’ll be facing on a monthly basis. It might feel like a lot, but remember that the majority of these utilities will be split evenly between you all. There’s different ways to do this, and each have their risks and benefits.

Joint Bank Account

This sounds great in theory – open an account with everyone’s name on it and have equal contributions going in. The bills come out and everyone is happy. Not so fast. The risk is that if one person doesn’t play by the rules, they could empty your account or tank your credit rating. Not good. This option is perhaps best suited to couples. Maybe those in a bromance. Or friends who have built a relationship before moving in together.

One bill per person

Each tenant has their name on a household bill, and takes responsibility for it. That entails collecting monthly payments from each housemate to cover their share. This can work if there’s good communication and everyone has budgeted for the bills. It can feel unfair if tenants have to assume higher risk bills. (Bills that can spike such as electricity, as opposed to set price bills like your internet). It can backfire if one tenant is terminally late, as you’ll have to pay for them or risk late fees and bad credit. Clearly setting boundaries with everyone will help to hold you all accountable.

What are the benefits of splitting the bills?

The third way to manage bills is to outsource the management of them to a third party. Each bill splitting company does this differently, but the basic premise is the same. Each tenant logs into a website or app and uploads their banking details. Once everyone confirms the shared bills, the program then does the number crunching. The program calculates each tenant’s share of each bill and sends notifications of due dates. Some programs even coordinate the debit of the funds from your account automatically.

Automating your bills takes pressure off everyone. Instead of inviting conflict by nagging each other for money, it’s automated. The app or website calculates everything fairly and sends notifications. There are often ways to transfer money between tenants, to make things even easier. Some bill splitting companies take on the risk of the bills themselves. This means that if one person fails to pay, your credit is not affected – it only reflects on them. That alone can provide peace of mind, if you’re unsure about the fiscal qualities of a housemate.

What student bill splitting companies exist?

There are plenty of options available if you want to outsource your money stress around student bills. Just look up a bill splitting third party. Many of these services are free, but be aware there are hidden fees and charges sometimes. Read the fine print carefully! Each of these offers a slightly different service. Let’s check them out.

BillHub

BillHub offers product comparisons. It is most useful when you’re first connecting a new home. BillHub allows you to choose different options for your household at that time. Options include auto-pay for bills and bill reminders when the due date gets nearer.

Split The Bills

Split The Bills offers to consolidate your bills into one monthly payment. It provides a single regular payment that aimed at simplifying finances in a shared home. This service costs £1.50 per week plus £10 set up fee per person.

Glide

Glide also consolidates the bills and charges each tenant a monthly share of the costs. They charge each tenant a month’s costs in advance as a deposit. The deposit is refunded at the end of the agreement (like at the end of the lease, for example). Fees are collected when managing specific accounts like water or your TV license. These additional charges can be significant when added up over a year’s management.

acasa

Now, we might be a bit biased here, but we think acasa is the best student bill splitting app on the market! You can easily manage the payments of rent and bills, as you would expect. But you can also add other expenses you’ve incurred for the upkeep of the household. What does that look like? Every time you pick up common goods like loo roll or lightbulbs, you can add the cost to the app. Each housemate will be asked for their share of the cost. This means noone is left paying for common goods all the time. A sliding scale will demonstrate if everyone in the house is ‘all square’ or if they’re falling behind. It’s an easy way to keep track of shared expenses.


Phew! Managing your student bills, studying and keeping a decent social life is exhausting. We hope this Ultimate Guide to Student Bills has given you a better understanding of what to expect when it comes to student bills. Now you can find the best deals and you know how to manage those expenses with your housemates. Student life can be a lot of fun, and removing the stress of managing bills can make things even better.

This information is up to date as of March 2017, and is considered correct at time of publication. The world moves quickly so please check prices with your provider before committing.