House with calendar, money and bills

Bills

Living costs you need to consider when living away from home, and how you could save money

*Since the cost of living rises, these figures will be out of date.*

There are many different types of accommodation available in the local area from a room in someone's home to a luxury self-contained apartment. In general, rental costs in Newcastle area can be around £300-£500 a month, depending on the type of room/property that you get. You may find cheaper rooms in shared houses, but it is unusual. The luxury places will cost a lot more!

Many student landlords and apartment style accommodation include bills in the rent, up to a certain specified amount.  If you have to pay your own bills, it will depend how many people live in the house, the size and age of the property, but somewhere around £100-£150 a month for gas and electricity together would be average. This would then be split between all the tenants.  Larger properties may use more gas and electricity and therefore cost more. 

Broadband costs are around £25-£30 but again, many landlords include this in the rental costs. 

It is highly recommended that students get contents insurance to cover their possessions in rental properties.  Whilst the landlord will get insurance to cover the building and their own fixtures and fittings, you will need your own insurance in case of damage or theft.  There are many different options available, but it will cost approximately £100-120 a year. 

Water bills are often covered by the landlord but if not, you are looking at about £30 a month.  Again, larger houses will have higher bills.

The next big expense is food and grocery costs. It will very much depend on how much you eat and drink,  whether you have a special diet and if you share things like milk, bread and cleaning products with your housemates, or if everyone buys their own.  Expect to pay £25-£40 a week for a basic shop for one person. 

You may need to factor in travel costs.  Some properties are within walking distance, but most require public transport.  At the moment, a monthly bus ticket is £48.50.  Taxi rides can certainly add up to an expensive way to travel!

It's vital to consider all these things alongside what your income will be, before signing up to a house.  Once you are under contract, even if your circumstances change, you are most likely to be tied in.

The University has written a guide to living costs - it's aimed at international staff coming to Keele but it contains some really useful information for all students living off campus!

If you have never lived in privately rented accommodation before, keeping on top of all the new bills can be a challenge. It's really important to know what you need to pay and when, and to make sure everyone takes responsibility. If you rely on student finance, you will be used to your money coming in three chunks throughout the year.  Whilst that is great whilst you live in halls, it becomes a challenge when your bills start arriving each month!  

Unless you have a contract that includes all bills, you will usually need to pay for gas, electricity, phone/broadband, water, TV licence and contents insurance. 

Keep a clear note of when each bill needs to be paid. Is it weekly, monthly, quarterly or a one off payment? 

It's worth having a calendar in a communal space so that everything is clearly marked for everyone to see.

Try and make sure that everyone takes care of at least one bill.  It can become overwhelming if one person takes on all the responsibility.

It is a good idea to have all the tenants' names on each bill, so that legal responsibility does not fall to one person, if people do not pay their fair share. That way everyone is encouraged to pay on time so that their credit score is not negatively affected.

Make sure you know where your gas and electricity meters are and submit regular readings to your utility companies.  This should prevent any big shocks at the end of the tenancy!

You can visit our Budgeting page for advice on how to budget for the essentials.

The average student spends over £500 each year on energy bills but when looking for a property there are a number of actions you can take to save money on your energy bills. Check out the NUS guidance which has information on Energy Performance Certificates, avoiding damp and mould, smart meters, tips on wasting less energy and getting the best deal from the suppliers:

NUS Ready to Rent: Save money on your energy bills

Shop around to look for the best deal for your utilities.  You will probably need the permission of your landlord to change suppliers so check your contract and check directly with your landlord. Money Saving Expert has a dedicated section advising you on getting good deals and how to switch.

If you’re in debt with your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay off those debts. If your supplier doesn’t offer grants, you might be able to get one from the British Gas energy trust. 

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills you can tell your supplier that you want to set up a payment plan. Your supplier has to take into account how much you can afford to pay and how much energy you’ll use in the future, so make sure you do a budget to work out what you can afford - see our Budgeting page for tips.

Newcastle-under-Lyme  Council have confirmed you can apply for the energy rebate if you are registered for Council Tax at the property address (even if there is an exemption) and you pay your own energy bills. 

However, if you live in an HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) you cannot claim the rebate - an HMO is a property rented by at least 3 people who are not from 1 ‘household’ but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.

If you live under another council it's worth getting in touch to enquire about the rebate as well.