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The Cost of Student Living

Many students leaving for university are heading off to live on their own and pay their own bills for the first time. The prospect of managing their own money and the cost of living can be stressful for new students, ultimately affecting their overall university experience. 

There is a lot of guidance available to help with savings on bills and money management, but different factors such as the current pandemic have provided new money worries for students. 

Being a student comes with many challenges, with money troubles being one of the most notorious. We asked 1,000 students in the UK about their bills, how they afford them, and the different ways they have tried earning money. 

Of the students we surveyed, 64% expressed their worry about the cost of living due to COVID-19, while 67% said that money worries affect their overall student experience. To find out how much the students we asked are paying for their monthly bills, including heating, food, and monthly subscription costs, take a look below. 

Organising finances, paying for food and bills along with managing money for socialising can bring additional stress for students. 65% of the UK students we surveyed said their mental health has been affected by their money worries. 

The map below breaks this down by the different regions around the UK to show where students’ mental health has been affected the most by concerns over money.

Once the first few months and the excitement of moving out are over, winter arrives and so does the need for heating. With this comes an extra expense. Managing the different costs of living is new to some students and can cause disagreements such as whether to turn the heating on or not. The findings of our survey also found that 46% of students rely on their parents to help them pay their bills. 

Check out the graphic below to find out what students are saying about their bills at university

Living with friends for the first time is one of the most exciting parts of leaving home for university, however, money worries can bring problems for students. One fifth (20%) of the students we surveyed admitted to arguing with their housemates about turning the heating on, while 12% have confessed to regularly arguing about bills. 

We asked students if they have had disagreements with their housemates over their monthly bills. Find the results below split out by city.

Part-time jobs are a great way to earn extra money at university. However, for some students having a job is a necessity to be able to afford the cost of living. Of the students we surveyed, 67% said they wouldn’t be able to afford their bills without a job. As the current climate is making finding a job even harder, students are having to turn to alternative income. There are lots of other innovative ways that students earn a little extra cash, whether it’s selling unwanted clothes or turning to social media. 

We’ve highlighted the alternative incomes students are using to make money while at university below. 


Survey data was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Uswitch. 1,001 respondents were surveyed between 09.10.20 and 14.10.20. Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which are based on the ESOMAR principles. Survey data collected for section one and two include combined responses for ‘strongly agree’ and ‘agree’. Section five is combined responses of ‘Yes, once’ and ‘Yes, more than once’.

Linda DodgeContent Marketing Executive - May 6th 2020