London on a budget

Live economically while still having a great time

If you plan carefully and budget efficiently, it's certainly possible to take advantage of the amazing opportunities London has to offer, while living within your means.

Document your expenditure, pay attention to your bank statement, categorise your expenses and talk to your friends or do some general research

LSE broadly estimates that students should allow £1,300-£1,400 per month for all living expenses, including accommodation, travel, food, laundry, study costs, and other personal expenses. This will vary depending on your lifestyle and requirements, so it's important you do your own research.

When you're preparing to come to university, it's key that you investigate possible sources of funding and income, and make a budget to estimate how much you can expect to spend.

Student video diary, February 2022: Financing your first few months as a student in London Student video diary, February 2022: Financing your first few months as a student in London
February 2022: Pavla's tips on how to finance your first few months as a student in London

Making a budget

It’s tempting to go on a spending spree when your student loan or salary comes in to your bank account – but it’s a smart move to make sure the money lasts until the next instalment. You can save a lot of money and make sure you live within your means by making a budget.

Also, if you're an overseas student and require a student visa, as part of these requirements, you must ensure that you have sufficient funds for the first year of tuition fees and up to nine months of living costs, and provide evidence of these funds. See the guidance from our International Student Visa and Advice Team.


It’s well worth spending the time to find out how much funding you can get. Options include scholarships and financial support from LSE, from the UK government, and from other governments and other funding bodies.

Many LSE students have a part-time job – it's a great way to enhance your CV as well as make some extra cash. See below for more about part-time work opportunities. 


In the different sections below you'll find details about how much you can expect to spend on different elements of student life.

As well as regular weekly and monthly costs for living expenses such as groceries and accommodation, it's also important to take into account any one-off arrival costs when calculating your budget. 

This could include deposits for accommodation, temporary accommodation if you arrive in London before you can move into your permanent residence, or domestic items such as bedding, furniture or kitchen utensils.

Useful budgeting tools


Halls of residence

LSE provides a range of accommodation options, with varying costs depending on location, room type and facilities.

Halls of residence fees include utility bills, internet access and contents insurance. In catered halls, one or two of your daily meals will be included, while in self-catered halls, you will need to buy your own groceries.

You may need to set aside a small amount each month for use of the laundry facilities, and any personal bills such as a mobile phone bill or TV licence.

You can pay for your halls of residence fees upfront or in three termly instalments.

More information about fees in halls of residence

Private accommodation

You can also choose to live in private housing in London. In fact, most second and third year undergraduate students and a number of graduate students will live in private housing.

Private housing costs can also vary considerably depending on location and accommodation type, but start at approximately £500 per month. A benefit of the School’s central location is that the campus is easily accessible from all corners of London, so you can allow greater flexibility when searching for the right place.

More information about private housing and the costs


If you're staying at an LSE or Intercollegiate Hall of Residence, many are within walking distance of campus. If you're living in private accommodation, it's likely you will be living further out and relying on public transport regularly.

Either way, London is a large city and we recommend you factor travel costs into your budget.

The main forms of public transport are the London Underground (the "Tube"), buses and taxis. The transport system uses "zones" to determine how much you pay - central London is Zone 1, with higher zones the further out you travel.

LSE, our accommodation and most cultural attractions are within Zone 1 and 2, but if you're living in private accommodation you may need to travel out to Zone 4, depending on where you live.

Transport discounts and cycling

As a student, you are entitled to receive 30 per cent off standard Tube and bus fares if you purchase a Student Oyster Card.

A young persons railcard and a young persons coach card are also available to full-time students, which provide discounts on train and coach travel throughout the UK. 

You might also choose to save money by cycling - there is a public cycle hire scheme in London, or you can use your own bicycle.


Food costs will account for a significant part of your budget. We estimate that students will spend £100-£300 per month on food, depending on whether you live in catered or self-catered halls, or whether you live in private accommodation.

There are steps you can take to reduce your food expenditure, like shopping at local markets, shopping and cooking with your flatmates (or neighbours in Halls), and bringing a packed lunch to university. There are microwaves, fridges and hot water facilities on campus for those bringing their own food in. The Undergraduate Common Room is one example, located on the fourth floor of the Old Building. 

Make a menu and a shopping list before you go to the supermarket, to avoid impulse buys and to make sure you only buy what you need.

If you do decide to eat out on campus, make sure to check if the restaurant offers any student discounts. There are a few popular places near LSE offering discounts, such as 15% off at Leon and 25% off at Fields Bar and Kitchen (all you need to do is show your LSE ID). 

Study costs

Tuition fees

Of course you will need to think about the tuition fees for your programme. Detailed information about tuition fees for each programme and funding opportunities can be found on the individual programme pages. Also make sure you look at the below information.

Books and equipment

Study costs include books, stationery and any other equipment to assist you with your studies.

You can save a lot of money by buying your books second-hand from previous students. The Library also stocks multiple copies of core and recommended readings (as well as single copies of more specialist books). A large amount of reading material is now also available online.

However, you may prefer to purchase your own and many companies do offer a student discount.


Graduation may seem like a long way off to new students but it is worth considering the associated costs, especially if you are only with us for a year as a master’s student. Gowns are provided by Ede & Ravenscroft, and are cheapest when booked online in advance.

Degree type Online (£5 discount)  Hire price On the day 
Bachelors £45.00 £50.00 £55.00
Postgraduate master's degrees  £51.00 £56.00 £60.00
PhD and higher doctorate £58.00 £63.00 £65.00
Prices accurate as of December 2022 subject to increase after then

Photography services are provided by Tempest and picture prices range from £15 - £153.50 depending on the size and frame.

Personal expenses

You will also need to consider how you will budget for things like clothing, gym memberships, nights out, mobile phone bills, or anything else you will want to buy.

Remember that students are often entitled to discounts. Totum will give you access to discounts across clothing, food, technology and socialising. Even if a company isn’t signed up with Totum, ask them if they give a student discount – many places will give you money off so long as you show your LSE ID.

The ISIC card is an internationally recognised discount card which provides discounts on a range of services and products. Groupon also has a range of discounts. 

Unidays and Student Beans are popular with students, offering discounts on a range of different things, from clothes to food and gym memberships. 

The LSE Students' Union offers a lot of societies, activities and social events free or at cheap rates.

London is also full of free activities - for example, most museums are free to enter. Time Out is a great way to hear about entertaining and cheap things to do. 

Find out more about key London attractions and experiences.

Part-time work

Many LSE students have a part-time job – it's a great way to enhance your CV as well as make some extra cash. London has thousands of part-time opportunities which can fit around your studies (we recommend working no more than 15 hours a week). Remember that London jobs will also have higher wages than the rest of the country. Read student Sarah's guide on working part-time jobs as an LSE student.

You could work in a bar, restaurant or shop – or go for something a bit different, like stewarding at a London theatre or being a tour guide at a museum. LSE also has lots of opportunities on campus – we need Student Ambassadors, Event Stewards and SU staff. Read student Sofia's blog on part-time job opportunities on campus.

LSE Careers can help you find a part-time position as soon as you register as a student – they advertise part-time jobs on and off campus and run events and one-to-one appointments on CVs, cover letters and applications.

 Read our students@LSE blog for the latest tips on how to live in London as a student on a budget and where to find the best and most affordable places to shop and dine.