One of my major concerns when deciding whether or not I should study abroad for a semester was how much money I would need for the duration of the three-month semester. Though I did my best to save up, I still found myself saying no to a lot of things in order to keep my spending to a minimum. That’s why I am writing this post—to give you a realistic look at how much you’ll need in order to study abroad, based on what I actually spent during my three months in London.
Furnishings – $180.74
The first thing I spent money on was furnishing my dorm room. I went to discount stores in London, such as Primark and Argo’s, to get cheap sheets, a comforter, pillows, and other little things like shampoo and conditioner. The $180 figure also includes everything I bought for my kitchen (bowls, plates, silverware, and cooking tools like pots and pans). I also paid a little more to get a mattress topper because I can’t sleep on stiff beds. This was a one-time purchase that I made in my first week abroad.
Groceries – $309.41
This number might vary a little depending on whether or not you’re more inclined to eat out or cook for yourself. I didn’t love spending time in my shared kitchen (and I had roommates who tended to steal food) so I ate out more often than I normally would at home. Most of my food purchases were staple items like milk, cereal, bread, peanut butter, and pasta. On average, I spent about $20 every other week on groceries.
Eating Out – $314.29
I tended to eat out a lot, so this number might be a little lower for you. I also didn’t include eating out during my weekend travels here, as that amount is included within the travel spending section.
Entertainment – $79.16
This includes going to the movies, going bowling, and seeing a show in the West End. As with my dining out figure, any entertainment purchases made during weekend travel are included in the travel spending section. I also used cash quite often when making these types of purchases, so that amount is also not reflected here.
Transportation – $153.21
If you’ve read my other posts, you know that my main mode of transportation while in London was on the tube. To pay for my tickets, I used an Oyster card. I tended to “top-up” my Oyster card with 30 pounds (around $45) every other week while abroad.
Phone – $93.09
My phone spending was just three easy payments (once a month) of 20 pounds each (around $30 depending on the exchange rate that day). Your phone plan may be higher or lower depending on what phone plan you purchase.
Travel – $2,005.30
Before you freak out about how much money I spent on travel, let me list out everything that this number includes: flights to Paris, Copenhagen, Dublin, Barcelona, Ibiza, and Prague; hostels/AirBnb’s in each city; transportation to and from each airport; all food and drink purchases in each city; all entertainment in each city; and any souvenirs bought while traveling. On average, I spent about $400 per trip (counting Ibiza and Barcelona as one) for everything, which is actually pretty cheap for three days.
Other – $157.00
Other purchases include a monthly Spotify bill, presents for friends who had birthdays in my abroad months, withdrawals of foreign currency, and small purchases here and there.
Cash – $520
I started my trip with about 350 pounds worth of cash. By the end of my trip, I’d spent all but a small amount of change leftover.
Grand Total: $3,812.20
Your grand total may be more or less than this amount. Before leaving, I was told that on average study abroad students spend somewhere between $3,000 and $8,000. Clearly, I am on the lower end of this scale, and I can’t imagine how someone would spend $8,000 in three months, but I hope that this helps you to budget your own trip.
More from SmarterTravel
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- 9 Rude Behaviors You Can Totally Get Away with Abroad
Nicole DiCenso is currently studying abroad in London, England. She loves to travel and document her journeys, so follow along on Instagram @GirlLostAbroad.
(Photo: Woman Looking in Empty Wallet via Shutterstock)
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