Postgraduate Living Costs in the UK
Written by Mark Bennett
Your postgraduate fees will account for a large proportion of the cost of your Masters degree. They won’t be all you have to pay, however.
You’ll need to cover accommodation expenses as well as food, drink, entertainment and other living costs – just as you did during your undergraduate degree. After all, your lifestyle may change slightly as a Masters student, but you’ll still need to put food on the table and a roof over your head (the university library doesn’t count!).
This page will give you an idea of the postgraduate living costs you’re likely to encounter in the UK’s major university cities, including average accommodation prices.
The most important factors shaping your living costs during a Masters will be related to your lifestyle and circumstances. What kind of accommodation will you be living in? Do you go out often? How often will you need to travel away from your university?
We can’t predict these, but we can give you some sense of representative student living costs in different UK university cities. You can use this information to broadly compare options for postgraduate study. It could also help you decide whether living near your university will be more expensive than commuting from home (or opting for a distance learning Masters).
The following table is based on crowdsourced data for what we think are typical student living costs in different cities (there’s more detail on how we’ve calculated these below).
Living costs in UK university cities
The information is based on crowdsourced data submitted to Numbeo and calculated using their cost of living estimator.
We’ve based our examples on an individual student sharing in a three-bedroom city centre property, purchasing a monthly travel pass and going out approximately once a week with other optional expenses (eating out, coffee, clothing purchases, etc) kept to a minimum.
Needless to say, this information is only meant as a very general guide. Most universities have their own pages dedicated to student living costs in their city, so it’s worth looking those up.
Estimating your own postgraduate living costs
Sadly, we don't know you well enough to work out your personal student budget. But you do. Your living expenses as a postgraduate won't have changed that much since your first degree. Bear this in mind when estimating postgraduate living costs.
If you’re not living at home during your Masters, the biggest financial outlay (other than your tuition fees) will be on accommodation. You’ll want to know that you’re getting good value for money – and that your property meets your needs as a postgraduate.
The big choice you’ll have to make is between university-owned accommodation and the private rental market. We’ve covered the main differences between them below.
Many UK universities offer halls of residence specifically for postgraduates. The cost of this will normally be around £125-175 a week (expect higher in London). Although postgraduate university accommodation is usually more expensive than the private equivalent, remember that bills are normally included in the price.
The cost of university-owned accommodation typically depends on how many people you’re sharing the flat or studio with and whether you have an en-suite bathroom, as well as whether the accommodation is catered or self-catered.
Demand for postgraduate accommodation often outstrips supply, so you should apply as soon as possible and have a plan B in case you don’t manage to secure housing through your university.
If university accommodation isn’t available (or desirable) you’ll need to rent privately. The cost for this will vary dramatically between different cities and even within them.
Even though private accommodation may sometimes be cheaper than university housing, bear in mind that the rent won’t usually include any bills. You should also take care to make sure that you’re renting from a reputable landlord. Some universities maintain a list of approved, reliable landlords and agencies, so it’s a good idea to talk to them about that.
In the table below we’ve included average rents for someone sharing a three-bedroom, city centre property, based on crowdsourced data from Numbeo.
Understanding postgraduate accommodation
You could have a few different housing options available for your Masters, including postgraduate-specific halls as well as general student dormitories and various types of privately rented accommodation. Our guide to choosing postgraduate accommodation provides more information.
Our postgrad newsletter shares courses, funding news, stories and advice
Masters Costs and Fees
When you’re making plans for Masters study, one of the most important factors to take into account is how much you’ll end up paying during your programme.Read more
Last updated: 15 November 2023