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Accommodation and living costs

The costs of living and studying in London will depend on the type of accommodation you choose, where in London you live, your travel and day-to-day expenses, and the associated costs of your course, including books, field trips, equipment and travel. We strongly advise you to make full provision to cover the costs of living and studying in London before you begin your course at Birkbeck.

As a rough guide, and to help you begin to plan your budget, we recommend that you allow for £12,000 to £13,000 per year (around £1000 to £1200 per month) to meet essential accommodation and living costs (not including tuition fees).

Come and speak to us about the costs of studying and financial support for students in need

Accommodation costs 

The cost of renting accommodation in London fluctuates and varies from place to place, so the following is only a guide. Accommodation in central London - where the Birkbeck campus is located - is usually much more expensive than living further out from the centre. This is what you might expect to pay for the various accommodation options available to Birkbeck students: 

  • A room in a partner hall of residence can cost from around: 
    • £143 per week for a twin, catered room 
    • £145 per week for a single, self-catered room 
    • £200 to £300 per week for a double, catered room or single studio flat. 
  • A room in a UNITE hall of residence can cost from around: 
    • £150 per week for an ensuite room in a shared flat 
    • £270 to £500 per week for your own studio flat with a kitchen and bathroom. 
  • A room, flat or house rented privately can cost from around: 
    • £500 to £750+ per month to rent a room in a shared flat or house. 
    • £950 to £1500+ per month to rent a one-bedroom flat, depending on how close you are to the centre. 
    • £1200 to £1600+ per month to rent a two-bedroom flat. 
  • The Greater London Authority has created a useful rent map that compares the average price of renting in different areas of London. 
  • The University of London Housing Service can give you professional guidance and support in finding private rented accommodation in London. 

Living costs 

When you plan your budget you need also to consider these essential costs:

  • food: £30-£40 per week
  • bills (water, electricity, gas, broadband, TV licence): £15-30 per week
  • travel to and from College: £15-35 per week
  • books and equipment: £10 per week.

When you create your budget remember to include personal and leisure-related expenses including mobile phone bills, clothes, toiletries, sports and hobbies, subscriptions, and social activities. It's also a good idea to allow extra money for unexpected expenses.


  • Council tax is paid to the Local Authority where you live to cover the cost of providing services, including police and fire services, refuse collection and disposal.
  • Full-time students are normally exempt from paying council tax, but are expected to provide proof in the form of a Council Tax exemption certificate when they apply to their Local Authority. These exemption certificates can be obtained via the Student Advice Service. We can post this to you or you can collect one from the Student Advice Service.
  • Part-time students can also be eligible for Council Tax exemption, but this depends on the course you are studying. To find out if you're eligible for Council Tax exemption, please contact the Student Advice Service.
  • Students living in halls of residence are automatically exempt from council tax.


If you are applying to receive Birkbeck financial support we will ask you to complete a budget planner, but you don't have to wait until you apply to start controlling your spending.

Be sure to include all your income, including student loans, and try to be as accurate as possible with your expenditure in order to get the most out of this exercise.


  • Birkbeck will run a number of workshops throughout the year to help students to set up a budget and learn how to save money. You can book a place on our next available workshop (13 February 2020).


  • Birkbeck has partnered with Camden Citizen's Advice Bureau to provides a regular one-to-one advice service for students with enquiries related to budgeting, debt management, housing or benefit-related enquiries. These 30-minute appointments are available most Thursday afternoons between 3pm and 6pm, and can be booked via the Student Advice Service. Telephone appointments are also available on request.
  • If it is difficult for you to travel to appointments, you may want to contact your local Citizen's Advice Bureau to find out availability and waiting times.


The cost of travel in and around London can vary considerably depending on which travel zone you live in.

Students living in Zone 1 (closest to our central London campus) may want to think about walking when possible, using a bicycle, or taking the bus, as single fares cost just £1.50 and if you make another journey within an hour the second journey is free.

Full-time students living outside Zone 1 may want to consider buying a railcard to keep costs down.


  • If you live outside Zone 1 and are travelling regularly to Birkbeck, you may wish to consider a student railcard.
  • TfL 18+ Student Oyster photocards
    • If you are 18 or over, live in a London Borough, and are enrolled on a designated programme of full-time study at Birkbeck, you may be entitled to apply for an 18+ Student Oyster photocard. This offers 30% off the cost of travelcards and bus and tram passes. It does not offer discounts on pay-as-you-go fares.
    • Applications are online and cost £20. Birkbeck cannot authorise applications until term has started and you are fully enrolled.
    • Please note that students on part-time courses (including Certificates of Higher Education students studying 120 credits) are not eligible to apply.
  • 16-25 Railcards (also available to full time students aged 26 and over)
    • These provide a third off all rail journeys as well as off-peak pay-as-you-go tube (underground) journeys.
    • If you already have an 18+ Student Oyster card you can arrange to combine this with your Railcard for 34% off the cost of your travel (check for any restrictions).


  • NUS Totum Cards
    • The Totum card is the new replacement for the NUS Extra Card, and offers a wide range of discounts from shopping to travel. Apply through the website and collect your card from the Student Union Office on the 4th floor of the Malet Street Building.
  • Useful websites for student deals and money-saving tips: