What You Can Afford



The largest cost consideration to bear in mind when deciding where to live is of course the rent. However, you want to pay careful attention not only to the rent per week, but also the duration of the tenancy agreement. Remember many contracts will be for a full 12 months and you’ll need to pay rent regardless of whether you are living in the house or not.

Some landlords and agencies will offer to charge a “retainer,” this is discount on your rent for the months over the summer, typically charged at 75% of your usual rent (so a 25% discount). If you don’t intend to live in the property over the summer this can be a considerable saving, even if restricted to just a single month, so ask the agent/landlord when viewing the property and be sure to check the contract for any such provisions.


Utility Bills

In addition to your rent, there are a wide variety of other costs that you will incur living in student accommodation.These include:

  • Gas bills
  • Electricity bills
  • Water rates
  • Broadband/Cable bills
  • TV license
  • Contents insurance for your personal property

These bills will vary depending on the type and size of your property as well as the number of tenants living with you and some may even be included in the cost of your rent.

Other “all inclusive” properties might even include all of them in a single package price. If you do pursue an “all inclusive” rent be sure to check what it includes and that the price is comparable to what you would otherwise be paying if you were to pay the bills yourself.

To give you an idea of how much you might be paying the average rent for a non-ensuite room in a share house in Northampton for the academic year 2012-13 was £70 per person. Utilities (Water, gas, electric) were approximately £20 per week per person.


TV License, Cable, Satellite and Broadband

The current cost of a single colour TV license is £145.50 and is required if you or your housemates plan to watch live TV on any device including a tablet or a laptop. The good news is once split between a whole house it’s not very much and if you’re only using the property for 9 months of the year you can get a refund on the months that you weren’t living there.

You can find out more by visiting www.tvlicensing.co.uk/students

Broadband and cable packages vary depending on your provider. Virgin Media and Sky are the most often used suppliers and a number of bundles are available which can also include premium TV channels and phone services. As with your tenancy agreement be sure to check the duration of your contract with the provider.

Many of us will be familiar with 24 month mobile phone contracts, similar such broadband contracts are not uncommon. Also bear in mind that you might need to pay for a 12 month supply even if you only plan on living in the property for 9 months during term time. Some suppliers do often offer specific student plans of 9 months duration and these can be a real cost saver.