How much does it cost to live in London?

London is a wonderful place to live and to study but it is the 4th most expensive city in the world. Trying to live without enough money over a long period of time is very stressful. As a student you need to make sure you have enough money, which means looking carefully at how you balance luxuries and necessities to stay within your budget.

Living at Goodenough College has a number of financial benefits (see below) but we recommend to anyone considering studying in London to think carefully about whether you can afford your postgraduate studies. If you do not have enough money available then you should seriously consider deferring your entry for a year.

The table below sets out the average costs of living in central London where Goodenough is located. You may, of course, have additional costs to these, or may spend more on other items such as food and groceries. This table does not include the cost of rent and so this is the money that you will need, in addition to your tuition fees and rent, to live frugally. You can see the Goodenough rents on our rents page.

ExpensesMonthly9 months12 months
Food and groceries (inc. laundry and toiletry items)£300£2,700£3,600
Personal and leisure£218£1,962£2,616
Mobile phone – SIM only£24£216£288


Goodenough is within walking distance of many of London’s top universities, colleges and institutes, including UCL, KCL, LSHTM, LSE, SOAS, Birkbeck and City University. If you are studying further than a 30 minutes walking distance and have to use public transport then you should assume £159 per month. Taxis are expensive but London has lots of cheap cycle schemes

Food and groceries

These food costs cover the typical requirements for someone studying in London. The actual costs may be higher or lower, depending on how often you dine out and where, what you eat and whether you have any specific dietary needs. This amount assumes that you will normally be shopping in cheaper supermarkets and markets, cooking for yourself (rather than eating out or in College) and bringing your lunch with you to university.

Diners having lunch in Freddie's Cafe

Personal and leisure

Your own costs will depend in your lifestyle and activities. Many of the Goodenough College events are free or heavily subsidised. Examples of current costs for events at the College are yoga £4, football £4, cooking club £3 (towards ingredients), ticket to a performance at the Royal Albert Hall £12 and College Ball £18, boat party £15, Halloween party around £8.

Mobile phone

These costs are assuming that you have a SIM only and use wi-fi whenever you can and especially for calls overseas.

Other costs

There are costs not included here such as:

  • Clothing
  • Gym membership
  • Homeware items such as cooking utensils
  • Health costs such as prescription charges (£9.65 per item), counselling or other therapies
  • Travel, to and from the UK and leisure travel and holidays
  • Personal tech equipment and maintenance
  • Course materials. For instance if you are on a design or art course then materials costs will be in addition to your tuition fees and could be expensive
  • Personal items such as birthday presents

Goodenough financial benefits

The cost at living at Goodenough College may seem high but it is average for student accommodation in central London. For most the College’s location will mean savings in travel expenses and there are other financial advantages for all College Members:

  • No fixed term contracts – after the first three months of the academic year Members can give 28 days’ notice to leave at any time
  • Members can sublet their room or flat while they are away from the College. The sublet system requires approval by the College and is carefully regulated for everyone’s safety but allows Members to cover the cost of their rent while they are away if they can find someone looking for a sublet
  • Lots of free events – academic talks, cultural events, Faculty Dinners and at least half of the Clubs and Societies are completely free
  • Hardship Fund should you experience unexpected financial difficult while at the College. This is short term funding.
  • Dean’s funding – we believe that finance should not be a barrier to taking part in College life and the Dean has a budget to help those who might, for instance, want to attend a Dean’s Colloquium in Europe but would not otherwise be able to afford this.
Goodenough Leavers' Dinner 2021

Working while studying

If you will be on a student visa in the UK then the number of hours you can work will be limited to 20 hours a week in term time. The type of employment you can find will depend on your skills and experience. Some examples of general work could be:

  • Waiter\barista – £11-14 per hour
  • Shop assistant – £11 per hour

Minimum wage in the UK for those over 21 is currently £11.44 per hour. If you earn over £242 per week you will pay 12% National Insurance. You will pay tax on your earnings in the UK if you will earn (or are predicted to earn) over £12.5k a year. Once you reach this level of income you will pay 20% tax on all income above £12.5k a year. If your earnings are more than £50k then you will pay 40% tax. Note this tax rate is in addition to the 12% National Insurance. Both tax and national insurance are paid automatically by your employer and the remainder of your pay is transferred to you. If you are self employed (e.g. consultant, personal trainer) then you will be required to pay National Insurance and make a tax return by the end of January.


Costs calculated as at December 2023