Below are a range of case studies from current students at Oxford showing how their living costs vary.
Améline, MSc in Comparative and International Education
I live in a single en-suite college room (with a double bed!) in a house with 10 other students. I have a few meals in college every term to make the most of my allowance (included in the college accommodation fee), but otherwise I cook with my housemates as it’s much cheaper. I bought stationery and a laptop at the start of my degree and haven’t had to spend much since, as I borrow books from libraries instead of buying them. Most of my social and sport activities are free, but I go to London or visit friends every weekend. My main and regular expenses include food shops, train tickets and phone contract, with occasional additional costs such as social outings (and sometimes a ball after exams - start saving up early if you want to go, they can be pretty expensive!).
Alexei, DPhil in Ion Channels and Disease
I am currently living in North Oxford in college owned couples accommodation with my girlfriend. We share a one bedroom flat, which is small and quite basic but good value for such a lovely part of Oxford. One of the best things is that bills are included in the rent, and parking for two cars is available outside the flat. Living close to the city centre and my department is great as it means I can cycle to work in less than 10 minutes, so I don’t spend any money on commuting. As we enjoy cooking ourselves we rarely spend money eating at college other than for the odd formal and guest night dinner.
Samantha, DPhil in Inorganic Chemistry
I live out of college in a house with four other people. Usually I cook for myself, but sometimes we share meals, and if I've got time I like to have friends over and cook for a crowd. My college's MCR put on lots of events that are free to go to and I'll go to formal hall probably three or four times a term, and a couple of bar nights, as well as socials with my lab group. I have enough to travel home or visit friends most weekends easily, and to buy presents or buy new clothes without living beyond my means.
Ayesha, DPhil in Pharmacology
I live in a shared house that is quite far from the city centre, and usually eat at home, though I like to eat out with friends a few times a week. My social life is quite busy as I like to meet friends at some point each day, and this often means going out somewhere and spending some money. I like to buy clothes sometimes, and I spend quite a bit of money on groceries and household supplies, though this was a more significant cost when we first moved in. I don’t have much extra expenditure for my studies or for travel.
Tatiana, DPhil in Education
I live in an en-suite college room and share a kitchen with three more students. I work as Assistant Junior Dean at my college and because of this my accommodation is free of charge. Being a DPhil student I spend most of the year in Oxford. I usually cook in the flat or go for meals to college. On occasions I eat out. My social life is somewhat active and I like to go to the movies, concerts, theatre and to have coffee and catch up with friends. I try to attend free events around University or take advantage of student discounts. This year I’ve had to invest some money in equipment for fieldwork and data analysis, for example a voice recorder, some software licenses and a laptop. I often commute by train or bus to do interviews outside of Oxford for my research. I’ve also spent some money on sports equipment and club memberships. I go to Colombia, my home country, once a year, usually during Christmas break.
Sam, MSc Global Governance and Diplomacy
I am a self-funded student living in en-suite university accommodation. I cook for myself at home most of the time to keep costs down. When I eat out, I look for restaurants that offer student discounts (top tip: always ask the restaurant if they offer student discounts!). But I also enjoy having a fancy dinner on a special occasion e.g. birthdays and have been able to afford this.
When I was coming to Oxford, I did not include social expenses in my budget – such as joining clubs that involve trips and fees, as well as simply socialising with people (e.g. going to pubs, cafes, and formal dinners). To finance these expenses, I was able to find some low-commitment part-time jobs that fit within the university’s paid work guidelines. Moreover, cooking and hosting a dinner at home, rather than eating out, has helped me and my friends save a lot of money. Studying in college where I can pick up free coffee and tea instead of buying it also helps keep everyday costs lower.
Peter, MPhil Tibetan and Himalayan Studies
As an international student I fund my studies through a combination of partial scholarships, US federal loans and some part-time work in my field of expertise and for the Oxford SU. I was additionally awarded a small one-off stipend by my college specifically for travel expenses related to my course. To budget for my living costs I use a banking app which texts me after each transactions and sends me regular updates on my expenditure - these texts greatly help in monitoring my expenses and what the trajectory of them is. I also separate my money into two accounts, with a set amount for spending each week, to avoid accidentally overspending.
I live out of college in a privately-rented flat, as my partner lives with me and so external accommodation better meets our needs. When I came to Oxford I was unaware we would have to pay Council Tax as my partner is not a student, which adds to our outgoings. Incoming students should consider these kinds of additional costs when looking at their housing options - Oxford SU provide a living out guide that can help you know where to start. I cook the vast majority of my meals at home, and shop at a budget supermarket, which has made all the difference and saved hundreds of pounds over the term compared to eating out (it’s much healthier too!). With the money saved in this way I enjoy pub nights or eating out with friends a couple of times a week. I have a membership to the Oxford Union, which I was bought for me as a gift, and am a member of a local football group which costs a few pounds per week.
Sheila, DPhil Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
My student experience has been a bit different to many, as I live with my husband and two children in Oxford, rather than in a college. We cook most of our own meals at home, as we’re catering for the whole family, but I do enjoy going to college formals from time to time as these are a great way to get to know the college community. I took advantage of a university nursery place to help balance our childcare needs with my DPhil, as places are prioritised for the children of students. There are lots of great free activities and facilities on offer in Oxford, and many are family-friendly, for example the University museums, Botanic Gardens and University Parks. There are also lots of community parks and playgrounds - Cutteslowe Park and Florence Park are particular favourites of my family!