New Students

Student living costs

When preparing a budget for starting University, it is important to understand what your necessary expected costs will be and what you should have enough money to pay for.

Your University fees

If you are paying your fees independently, it is important to know when the payments are to be made and ensure that all arrangements are in place to pay your fees on time. 

Ensure you know how to pay your fees

You may also have associated extra costs associated with your programme, for example, art supplies, deposits for PhD, or Vet school supplies. Some programmes may specify that resources be purchased in advance, but unless specifically told, it is not recommended that you buy any books or resources on any reading list in advance of starting University as most can be accessed through the Library Services when you arrive. 

Use the Library to find books, ebooks, journals, e-journals and more

Fixed living costs (regular payments)

Fixed living costs include internet charges, electricity and gas contracts, telephone bills, TV license, insurance costs and potential Council Tax bills. These are regular costs relating to where you are living, typically incurring on a monthly basis and therefore the first costs to consider when budgeting over a longer period of time.

Not all of the types of costs outlined below will be relevant for every student and the costs will vary depending on your preferences. Most of these costs can be researched and estimated costs can be added to a budget ahead of arriving at your new home. 

Accommodation Fees/Rent (essential)

If living in University accommodation, you will have to pay accommodation fees.

More information about paying your accommodation fees

If you are living in private accommodation, the amount of rent you will need to pay will vary but will usually not include any bills or utilities. Often a landlord will request an additional month and a half rent value as an up-front deposit and therefore your initial cost when moving in could be very high. You will receive this back if you meet the conditions of the property when leaving and this deposit can then be used for your next rented property. 

More information about renting private accommodation 

Internet access (essential)

Internet access is included in the rent of most University of Edinburgh owned accommodation.

IT facilities in University of Edinburgh owned accommodation

You can also access wireless internet (eduroam) at all University campuses.

Internet access at the University of Edinburgh

If you rent privately you will normally need to set up internet access. The cost is not normally included in the rent.

Compare internet deals for students 

Gas and electricity bills (essential)

If you are in University of Edinburgh owned accommodation, the cost of heat and electricity will be included in your rent.

If you rent privately your electricity and gas can be supplied by a number of different companies. There is usually an existing agreement with a provider when you move in.

Check with the landlord who the provider is and whether you can change supplier - you can often save money if you change.

Compare gas and electricity providers

Mobile telephones (essential)

Contract A fixed monthly cost to include phone calls, texts and internet access. Contracts usually last between 12 and 24 months.
Pay-as-you-go Pre-pay for phone calls, texts and internet access by buying credit. There is no contract so it can be a better option if you will be in the UK for less than a year.

Compare mobile phone deals for students

How to make cheap international calls

If you are in University of Edinburgh owned accommodation, you will have a pay-as-you-go landline telephone in your bedroom.

If you rent privately you may wish to install a landline. Check with your landlord if there is already a landline installed and who is the service provider.

Contents insurance (essential) 

It is important to buy contents insurance for your home to protect your belongings in case of theft or damage. 

Endsleigh is an insurance company that specialises in student insurance and can also cover expensive items (such as laptops), musical instruments, bikes, tuition fees and rent protection. It is recommended because of the lower rates, 0% APR and it is easy to set up. 

Set up your student contents insurance with Endsleigh Insurance 

Council Tax (if relevant)

Council tax is a charge that is used to pay for local services such as rubbish collection, street cleaning, sewerage, water, police and schools. It is collected by the local authority.

Full-time students do not have to pay council tax but they are required to apply for tax exemption. If you live in University of Edinburgh owned accommodation, this will be done automatically for you. If you are living in private accommodation, you will need to apply for an exemption yourself.

Apply for council tax exemption (if living in non-University of Edinburgh owned accommodation

Student council tax discount for the City of Edinburgh Council (if the exemption does not apply to you) 

Digital TV (optional)

Television in the UK is digital, which includes many free channels. Other services are available which allow you to watch more channels. You pay a monthly fee and normally agree to 12 - 18 month contract. Check with your landlord or letting agency to make sure there are no restrictions if you want to install this type of service.

Compare TV package deals for students 

TV Licence

You need to buy an annual TV licence to watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, or download or watch programmes on BBC iPlayer, All4, Sky Go or YouTube on any TV or mobile device. This also applies to students who live in University of Edinburgh owned accommodation. 

Find out more on how and when to buy a TV Licence for students

Variable living costs (irregular payments)

Food (essential)

Buying, cooking and eating food is a necessity but the costs of food will vary depending on taste, diet, occasion and how much funding is available to spend on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It is important that you have enough money after estimating your fixed costs for food. If you are living in catered accommodation, you will still need to buy lunch.

Tips on saving money 


You may need to budget in the costs of daily travel to get to your classes and the costs will be dependent on how far you have to travel and how frequently. There are many ways to get around the city of Edinburgh and we would recommend that you take a bit of time in advance of starting to work out if you need transport, how frequently and how much would it costs. Please note that many public transport operators do offer student deals and also seasonal ticket discounts. 

University of Edinburgh campus maps

All options for getting around Edinburgh

Work out your bus public transport with Lothian Buses

Cycle around the city with Just Eat Cycles


It is important that you have some funding available to ensure you can do the things that make you happy. These costs will absolutely vary depending on your interests, but it is recommended that some money is set aside each month so that you 

Find out more about the range of sports clubs to join through the Sports Union 

Find out more information about the Student Societies as part of the Edinburgh University Students' Association 

Related Links

Planning your budget

Student income options