With the always rising cost of tuition and other related costs, it is getting more and more expensive to get a degree. If you are familiar with the archives of Savvy Scot, you know I always strongly recommend to run the numbers before getting into several years of negative cash flow in pursuing advanced education. In general, you can’t really go wrong, with law, medicine, or a business degree at a university such as London School of Business and Finance (LSBF). Those are generally high paying careers where you can expect to make your money back in a short time. Nevertheless, dealing with the cost of an education is never easy, and less so in high cost of living areas such as London. Here are a few tips to help pay for your living costs.
Reducing your living expenses
London is a very expensive place to rent, and even more if you are looking to live close to campus. Be it right in the centre of town or around a more remote school, the student demand for housing is high and never slows down. My rental property in Guildford is full all year, as I am close to uni, students look to rent mainly in September, but I also get foreign students around February for the second term, and PhD students in summer, so there isn’t much of an incentive to lower rental prices.
What you can try however, is to look for a place to stay in June, when students from the previous year are graduating and moving out, or going back home to spend the summer. Landlords are happy to secure a full year rental until the following June, and may agree on a small discount to avoid having to rent for three months in summer and look again for tenants in September.
If you are unable to afford the summer rent, try at least to look for a place to stay in August, as it really gets crazy in September, and all the good places are taken. For the first year at least, I would recommend looking for a flatshare to split the bills and living expenses, but again, look carefully. Have a thorough talk with potential roommates to make sure you would be a good fit, and express all concerns straight up. Who cleans, how late can you have music on or friends over… it is much easier to talk about it straight away than a few months in when resentment starts to make things emotional.
If your landlord agrees to it, you could look into renting your room during summer to exchange students or tourists. The latter means higher nightly rates but more work as you would need to clean and change sheets in between rentals, but if you market yourself well and can stay with your parents or friends close by, it can be worth your while.
Finally, look into “all bills included” rentals, not only it will make relationships with roommates easier as you won’t fight over who owns what and how long Mary spent in the shower, but it will allow you to know exactly what your living expenses will be.
Look for ways to make more money
As a student, you are often faced with a choice to either dedicate your full time to your studies, in hopes to get better grades and a better job when you graduate, or working part time, often at the detriment of your academic results, but if that means being able to pay for your studies or graduate with less debt, it may be worth it. Some students are able to work in a field related to their studies, and sometimes their university will even adapt their schedule so they can look for a paid internship that lasts all year. That is indeed ideal, but if your degree doesn’t allow for it, there are several small jobs you can have on the side, without doing too much damage to your study time. I particularly liked temp work since you are always free to say no, for example during end of year exams, and ask for more hours during the summer. I used to be a waitress at weddings, which was great. We would make about £90 a night, on Saturday night, so instead of going to the pub and spending money, I would still go to bed a bit late, but with money in my pocket, be able to rest on Sunday and get a fresh start on Monday.
Once you are a bit more of a senior student, you can look into teaching assistant jobs which are also perfect since you are already at uni, so there is no commute time, and you often get little added perks such as discounts on tuition or free cafeteria meals.
Living in London sure is expensive, but it is also a place where salaries are pretty high, so try to make the most of it and every little income you may be able to bring in will definitely help bring down the cost of your degree.