Living in the UK
Find out some useful information here about how to support yourself and manage your finances while you study in the UK. There are many expenses to consider when living in the UK, ranging from the cost of accommodation to the cost of shopping for food. You will also find information here about different services that are accessible to you whilst you are in the UK.
Cost of Living: What to expect
It is estimated that a single student living in London will need approximately £1265 a month to meet basic living expenses such as accommodation costs, food, books and equipment and other necessities. This is in line with Home Office recommended figures for living inside London. These figures are given as a guide only and the amount you actually spend will depend a lot upon your personal lifestyle. The following breakdown of costs can give you some idea of how this figure is reached. Don't forget that your costs will be much higher if you will be bringing your family to the UK as your dependants.
An easy way to work out your budget is to use this interactive web site International Student Calculator.
It is very important that you have insurance to cover your personal property. If your laptop and other belongings are damaged or stolen it will cost you a lot of money to replace them. Endsleigh is the recommended insurance company for students. Insurance cover for up to £1000 of lap top and other electrical items costs about £80 per year.
Student NUS Discount
After you have enrolled at London Met, apply for an NUS (National Union of Students) Extra card which costs £12 but entitles you to discounts in hundreds of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. For example, you can get 10% discount on your food shopping at the Cooperative supermarket, so it will not take long to cover the £12 cost of the card.
On average you will need to budget for spending an average of £50 - £60 on food per week. This is based on eating breakfast, lunch and a hot evening meal. London is full of great places to eat. There are a great many outlets for buying food on and around all of our campuses where a hot meal can range in price from £3.50 - £7.00.
Heating and lighting
If you choose to live in private rented accommodation the cost of heating will not be included in your rent. If you are not used to cold or damp weather, you may need to use the heating for up to 7 months of the year.
Cheaper rented accommodation does not usually have central heating, and gas or electric fires provided can be expensive to run. Allow a minimum of £600 for the year.
Books and equipment
London Metropolitan University has well stocked libraries where you should be able to find all the books required for your course.
There may also be times where you will have to purchase your own books. The cost of books varies for different courses. You are strongly advised to check with your department to find out any extra costs anticipated. You will have to pay for your own stationery, computer disks/memory sticks and photocopying.
- All students are entitled to 30% discount on travel in London but only if you have a Student OYSTER card. You can apply for your Student OYSTER card on the Transport for London (TFL) website.
- A Young Person's Railcard will entitle you to one third off normal nationwide train fares so that you can visit other parts of the UK. You can apply for the railcard here.
- Cycling is a fast and cheap way of travelling but remember to stay safe and always wear a helmet - cycling safety information can be found on the Government website UK Government website and also on the Transport for London website.
Council Tax is the system of local taxation charged to all residents in the UK by the Local Government Councils to part fund local public services such as waste disposal, policing, fire service, schools etc. Council Tax charges are based on the value of your property and consider the number and type of occupants.
Do I have to pay the Council Tax?
Full time students usually do not have to pay the Council Tax. If you live alone or in a household where everyone is either a student or a Tier 4 dependant of yours then you will not need to pay any Council Tax as the property will be 'exempt' and there will be no bill for the dwelling. You should request a Council Tax Exemption Letter from your Student Hub and then give it to your local Council office .
Further information on UK Cost of Living
Managing your money
You cannot open a bank account until you are in the UK and have registered on a programme of full-time study. It can take up to 2 weeks to open a bank account. UK law requires banks to make detailed checks on customers to establish proof of identity (signed passport), proof of address in home country and proof of new address in the UK.
You should therefore make sure that you bring enough money to cover your expenses for the first few weeks in the UK. You might consider bringing travellers cheques or credit card with you. Please do not carry large amounts of cash with you or keep large amounts of cash in your room.
Once you arrive at London Metropolitan University you will need to decide which bank you want to open an account with and there is some useful information to help you decide here on the "Save the Student" website. In order to open an account you will need to complete an application form from your preferred bank.
In addition you will need to provide the following evidence to them;
- Proof of your identity (usually a passport).
- Proof of your address in the UK.
- Confirmation that you are a full-time registered student at the University. This may be confirmed by getting a bank letter from your Student Hub at London Met after you have enrolled. You may also wish to take your tenancy agreement as evidence of your current address if you are in private rented accommodation.
Prepare your budget in advance with the International Student Calculator
Health and NHS services
Immigration Health Surcharge
During the Tier 4 visa application process, you will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) which is £300 per year for those studying on a course lasting 6 months or longer. This will entitle you to use the National Health Service (NHS) at no extra cost during your stay in the UK.
The IHS will be refunded only where an application for leave to enter or remain is refused.
Further details of the Immigration Health Surcharge can be found on the Home Office website here.
Registering with a Doctor
You should register with a local General Practitioner (GP) Practice as soon as possible and preferably before you actually need to see a doctor about an illness. You can can find a list of your local GPs here on the NHS website. Check the range of services offered by each of the GP Practices so that you can make an informed choice about which Practice to register with. You may want to consider whether there are both male and female doctors and whether there are additional services and clinics offered.
If you are a national of a European Economic Area (EEA) country and you are studying on a course lasting less than six months then you are strongly advised to bring a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you otherwise you may be charged for your healthcare.
If medicines are prescribed by a doctor a prescription charge is made per item - currently £9.00.
If you are not eligible for free health care you are strongly advised to take out private medical insurance from a reputable company to cover yourself and any dependants before you leave home.
If you will be registering with a doctor please ensure that you bring the following information for yourself and your family, if they are coming with you.
- Details of any past illnesses requiring medical treatment,
- A full record of past immunisations,
- If you are currently taking medicines please make sure you bring adequate medication to cover the first few weeks at University.
If you are eligible for NHS treatment you will be eligible for treatment by a dentist accepting NHS patients (although this is not free treatment it is cheaper than private treatment). You can find an NHS dentist on the NHS website.
Eye tests and opticians
Eye tests are available at opticians, which can be found in the High Street. You will have to pay a charge of around £25 for an eye test. You will need to pay for lenses and frames which can cost from £35 to over £350.
Safety and security issues are very important not just as you first arrive in the UK but also throughout your stay. By international standards the UK is a safe country. In a recent survey by the British Council only a very small proportion of students had ever experienced a crime and the overwhelming majority felt that the UK is a very safe place to be.
However it is important to be aware of how you can keep yourself and your possessions safe and the following online guide produced by the British Council is an excellent resource
Travelling in Europe: Advice and information
If you would like to travel to one of the 26 European countries which make up the 'Schengen Space' then you may need to apply for a Schengen Visa. You can check here on the European Commission website Do I Need A Visa?
The common 'Schengen' visa is a visa for short stays of up to 3 months for the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic,Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
In order to apply for the visa you should check the embassy website of the Schengen member country you wish to visit for an application form and full details of the Schengen visa requirements. If you are planning on travelling to more than one Schengen country then you should apply to the embassy of the country which will be your main destination.
What documents will I need?
This varies between countries but generally you will require the following:
Completed application form, signed by the applicant;
Recent passport photograph(s);
Original passport or official travel document of each traveller;
Proof of purpose of the visit, this can be an invitation letter from friends/family or conference organisers or proof of accommodation/tour booking;
Evidence of sufficient funds to complete your trip;
Evidence of student status - you will need a recent letter from the University confirming that you are a full-time student;
Travel insurance for the entire trip - this must include cover for medical expenses;
Check that your current student visa will allow you to return to the UK - most member states request that you have a minimum length of leave remaining on your student visa after you return to the UK but this varies between countries so you will need to check the requirements on the relevant website;
The Schengen Visa fee - this varies depending on which of the Schengen countries is issuing the visa;
All of the documents that you provide must be originals; photocopies will not be accepted.
We advise you to make copies of your passport and all the documents that you submit to the Embassy and ensure that you carry photocopies of all the documents that you submitted in support of your application.
If you are travelling to countries outside of the Schengen space, you should contact that country’s embassy in the UK for information about immigration procedures there.
Driving in the UK
Driving licences issued outside the UK and international driving permits are valid in the UK for twelve months. After twelve months, it is necessary to obtain a UK licence by arranging to take a driving test. If this is not done, you run the risk of being prosecuted for driving without a valid licence and this will invalidate your insurance. Nationals of the European Union who take up residence in another member state can continue to drive, using their own national licence, for as long as it remains valid, even after twelve months has elapsed.
Licences from the following countries can be exchanged for a full UK licence:
Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malta, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe.
Application forms for UK driving licences and explanatory leaflet can be obtained from all main post offices. Application forms for a driving test can be obtained from the Driving Standards Agency.
See also the UKCISA guide: Driving in the UK - A Guide for International Students
Study Skills resources
The International Student Advisers are available for advice on a range of issues including Visas and Immigration.
The Service is regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC)
International Student Advisers
telephone: 0207 133 4186
appointments: 0207 133 4186
Telephone: +44 (0)207 133 4186
9.30am – 12pm
9.30am – 12pm
To make an appointment, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appointments by request
LCM-04, Learning Centre
International Programmes Office
Study Abroad email: email@example.com
Study in London email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7133 4146
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7133 4146