Emily Brookes: How much I spend as a student living in halls

My name is Emily and I am a first-year Fashion Design student, studying at BCU’s City Centre Campus. Find out how much I spend on student accommodation and other living costs, plus get some top tips to save money when you're at uni.

Emily stands smiling in front of some graffiti art in Birmingham

I am originally from York so moving into student halls was a must for me, but I also wanted to experience living independently and to make new friends. I spent my first year living at Bentley House Student Accommodation which is just a 10-minute walk to the city centre and only a 15-minute walk from The Parkside Building, which is where I study most days.

Accommodations costs

My accommodation this year costs £167 per week for a premium room. Having a premium room means that my room is bigger than a standard student room but with the same furnishings. I have a small double bed, wardrobe, private bathroom, and desk space, and use of a shared kitchen. WIFI, contents insurance and bills are all included in my rent too.

My rent also includes access to the onsite gym. This is something I recommend looking for when researching accommodation, as I can access the gym 24/7 and can save money by not subscribing to a gym membership every month.

Bentley House also has a common room with access to a Netflix account, so I use this instead of paying for my own subscription. There’s also a pool table, table tennis area and spaces to chill with friends, so there’s always opportunity for a free night in.

As Bentley House is so close to the city centre and university, I spend very little on public transport. My weekly spend on transport is usually £0-£4, the £4 being an adult day bus ticket that you can use multiple times a day if I fancy a trip to other areas around Birmingham.

Food shopping

I like to go food shopping at a big supermarket once every two weeks. I usually go to Aldi as it’s affordable on a student budget and is only a 20-minute walk from Bentley House. My average food shop spend is £30-£40 for the two weeks, though I do top up my fridge with fresh food from convenience shops like Tesco Express, spending around £5-£10.

Some of my food shop tips are…

  • Buy frozen! Frozen bags of vegetables will be your best friend. They have around 5 servings per bag, cost around £1-£2, will last for ages in the freezer and can be thrown into any meal. Although I still buy fresh veg, this saves me time and money and doesn’t risk food going off.
  • Plan your meals and make a shopping list. Knowing what you need to buy saves you time and money in the supermarket and means you don’t go back to your flat with a bunch of food that doesn’t really go together.
  • Invest in a shopping trolley. Despite having a reputation as ‘granny trolleys’, my shopper has saved me many times. I spent £10 at the start of the year on mine and have not looked back. I can carry all my shopping with ease, I don’t need to pay for transport to the shops and I save money by not buying shopping bags every time I shop.

I also spend about £1-5 a month on household items like bin bags and cleaning products – as no one wants a dirty flat – and I use the laundry room at Bentley House every 1 to 2 weeks. A load of washing costs me £3.50 to wash and £1.80 to dry. I make sure the machine is full so that I make the most out of the wash, and will throw my bedding in too (ahhh, fresh sheets).

Earning some extra money

I have a part-time job at university, which means I have money coming into my bank account each week. I work as a student ambassador and share my experiences of BCU at Open Days and online. I earn about £40-60 a week doing this. I’d definitely recommend looking for a part-time job because it gives me some money to go out with friends and buy myself some little treats.

Some other useful tips

  • Bring your I.D. EVERYWHERE! Make sure you take your BCU I.D. with you everywhere and always ask if places offer student discount. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! Even 10% off can make all the difference to your budget.
  • Be loyal! Tesco Clubcard, M&S Sparks, Costa, and Starbucks Apps, UNIDAYS, take advantage of as many reward schemes as possible for discounts and freebies.
  • Expand your budget online. Living in student halls means having limited space, especially if you’re a fashion lover like me and are swamped by clothes. Save some space and make some extra money by selling your clothes online using apps like Vinted. This can boost your budget and free up some space.

Living away from home doesn’t have to be a big financial burden, and there are loads of ways to stretch your budget in student halls. I hope my blog helps you and your budget!

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