Cost of living      

 

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Living away from home or moving out of university halls means you'll have new responsibilities with your money that you probably haven't had to think about in the past. Accommodation and paying the bills will be one of your largest expenses. Here are some costs to think about and some tips on saving money in your student home.

 

The video below features tips on managing finances when moving in to your new home, including rent, bills, travels expenses and other living costs.

 

 

Rent

 

The rental prices for student accommodation vary according to the location, type of property, facilities and the standard of property. If you are planning to share a house with your friends, you should decide between you what you can afford to pay for rent, having factored in all other household and living expenses.

 

City Centre (L1, L2 and L3) properties that are close to the main campuses will have the highest rents. If you are set on living in town, but don’t want to pay that much, you may want to consider properties on the outskirts which are a short walking distance and can offer close proximity at a lower cost such as Kensington, Edge Hill and some parts of Toxteth.

 

Other areas are a short bus ride from the City Centre, so make sure to factor in transport costs. Merseytravel is the executive body responsible for the coordinaiton of public transport in the Liverpool City Region, and they have a section on their website dedicated to students, including a journey planner and details of discounted student travel passes.

 

Click here to view average rent levels by postcode area

 

 

Fuel bills – your quick guide to what to look for in your tenancy and when searching for a new home

                     

You won’t be able to escape the talk around increased energy fuel bills, but how does that effect you living in your student home if your bills are included in the rent payment. 

Here are some useful tips to consider when searching and currently living in student accommodation.

 

Download the fuel bill Q&As.

 

 

Q:  What is inclusive rent with a ‘fuel cap’? 

A:  A fuel cap is usually set to limit the overall cost of the energy covered within your rent. This is typically subject to a fair use policy – a cap or allowance for the type of home you are living in. Many larger providers will publish a fair usage policy on their website – always ask for clarity.

Q:  If my bills are fully inclusive, can I use as much electricity and heating as I want?

A: Usually – but such an agreement is rare in traditional houses and flats. However, if there is a cap written in your tenancy agreement and you use more than the amount set as your limit, you will be charged for any usage above your cap.  If there is no cap on your bills than there potentially could be no limit – but always check this out.

Q: My contract says inclusive rent but shows an allowance for all the bills and not just fuel costs.

A: This is particularly important to check as this will significantly impact what’s left from your allowance to cover energy and fuel costs.  Check out the example below:

 

Tenancy agreement states allowance of £1500 for the property to cover bills - out of this allowance the following charges are deducted:

Internet: £480.00

Water charge: £422.00 (not a meter)

Allowance remaining from rental payment towards gas and electricity for the year = £598.00*

 

*There will probably be additional costs to pay for your fuel usage

 

Water rates and internet tend to be fixed charges so ask the agent / landlord to confirm their amounts to enable you to calculate what is left to cover gas and electricity.

Q: How will I know if we are using more fuel than the cap?

A:  LSH are encouraging accredited accommodation providers to be open and transparent with their tenants about what the typical usage in the property looks like.  Ask for this information especially before signing a tenancy.  This will allow you to get a better understanding of any other potential costs.

Q: The fuel cap on my contract is shown in kWh of usage, what is  this?

A:  Fuel companies charge fuel per kWh plus a standing charge.  It is important to ask what the cap in kWh translates to in money. 

Q: What does a typical usage cost look like in a shared house/flat?

A:  We have gathered some information from accredited providers to give you some basic examples of potential average usage and current fuel charge costs, it may be more or less than the illustration in your home, it’s important to ask your accommodation provider:

 

What a typical 4-bedroom house may use on average in kWh annually

Gas        19,000 kWh             Elec          2381 kWh

 

October 2022 energy fuel prices =

£ 1,957.00   -   Gas 19,000 kWh @ £0.103  

£    102.20   -   Gas standing charge @ £0.28 per day

£    809.54   -   Elec 2,381kWh @ £0.34

£    167.90   -   Elec standing charge @ £0.46 per day

 

What a typical 1 bed flat with 1 occupant may use annually in kWh

Gas          9,587 kWh             Elec          1356 kWh

 

October 2022 energy fuel prices =

£   987.46     -      Gas 9,587 kWh @ £0.103

£   102.20     -      Gas standing charge @ £0.28 per day 

£    461.04     -      Elec 1,356 kWh @ £0.34

£    167.90     -     Elec standing charge @ £0.46 per day

 

Q: Should the fuel bills be in the tenant’s name if we have an inclusive rent?

A:    No not typically – if your rental payment to your provider is with the bills included, then the bills should normally be in the providers name as the provider has offered to include the bills within the rental figure and should arrange their own payment of the utilities.

Q: Can we get help through the governments ‘Energy Support Scheme’?

A:    The government scheme pays the allowance available to the energy supplier, who then passes this to the bill payer.  If the bills are in the providers name they should then deduct this off your fuel usage bill.  Ask your landlord if this has happened for your home.  The government are looking at making this a legal requirement but this has not been formally approved as yet.

Q: I’m still not sure about all of this and what it means to me

A:    Get in touch with LSH (Liverpool Student Homes) and we will offer you some advice and support.  We can check your tenancy agreement before you sign anything. You can gain additional advice and support via your university's money advice team.

 

Household budgeting

 

Getting household expenses organised at the beginning of the year will save a lot of stress later on. It’s a good idea to draw up a budget of estimated household expenses so you can be prepared for when payments are due and so you know what you have left to spend on other stuff.

 

Gas and electricty

The cost will depend on a variety of factors but as an estimate we recommend that you budget around £12-15 per person per week. Also, check the Energy Performance Certificate for the property.

All inclusive rents

If your bills are included in the rent payment, you may want to check your contract to see if there is a cap or limit on your fuel consumption. If your consumption goes over this cap, you will be required to pay the extra cost. It’s also best to get a copy of the bill, to check that the energy consumption is correct and based on actual meter readings and not estimated.

Water and internet

Usually the cost of water supply is included in your rent. Internet may or may not be. Ask the landlord how internet is supplied in the property and how the bill is to be paid.

Contents insurance

Check if you are covered on your parent’s policy. If not, it’s important you take out your own to cover your belongings. Some companies specialise in student contents insurance. Ensure that you have the appropriate household contents insurance cover and that important documents are kept in a secure place ie. safe from fire and flood. Contact your landlord/agent if you are unsure what level of insurance is in place, it is likely that they will only have insurance to cover the building, however some landlords/agents may included contents insurance as part of your tenancy agreement. 

 

See this handy guide explaining what contents insurance is, what it covers and what to look for when purchasing a policy.

Food

You may want to discuss with your housemates how to organise the food shop, the cheaper option is to do a regular supermarket shop.

Travel

If you are not living in the City Centre, you need to consider you transport costs both for getting to uni and also for socialising. Visit the Merseytravel website for information about journey planning and student travel passes.

TV licence

If you rent, whether an entire property or a room in a shared property, you must be covered by a valid TV licence to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV, whether that’s online, on a TV, or on any other device such as laptops, tablets or games consoles. You also need a TV licence if you also wish to download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, although you do not require a licence if you only watch on demand or catch up programmes on services including All 4, Sky Go, ITV Hub, Netflix, Amazon & NowTV. If you are unsure on whether you need to be covered by a TV licence, please visit the TV licence FAQ page, and dedicated student TV licence page.

 

If there’s a joint tenancy agreement for the whole house, you may only need one licence. However, you may need your own licence if your accommodation is self-contained – i.e. you have exclusive access to washing facilities or you have your own entrance to the property. If you have an individual tenancy agreement for your room, you’ll need to be covered by a separate licence. Usually you'll have to organise this yourself (or between yourselves if in a shared house). But speak to the landlord first, as they may already have a licence for the property.

 

Save energy to save money!

 

  • Turn your thermostat down. Reducing by 1°C could cut your heating bills by up to 10%. Set your heating and hot water to come on only when required.
  • Close your curtains at dusk to stop heat escaping through the windows.
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Don't leave appliances on standby and remember not to leave laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily.
  • Washing clothes at 30 degrees uses 40% less energy.
  • Only boil as much water as you need (but remember to cover the elements if you're using an electric kettle).
  • A dripping hot water tap wastes energy so ask your landlord to fix any leaking taps and make sure they're fully turned off!

 

 

Other ways to reduce your outgoings:

 

  • Look for reduced items at the supermarket, or go 10 minutes before closing time when fresh produce is heavily discounted.
  • Taking a packed lunch and flask with you to the library.
  • Instead of cooking individually, take turns in cooking one evening meal for everyone.
  • Stick to the student union when you go out to take advantage of cheaper prices.
  • Use your NUS card for discounts.
  • Taking advantage of online vouchers.
  • Watch your spending when away from university, such as the summer holidays or Christmas. With so much free time, it's easy to go crazy and spend your money all in one go. 

 

 

Energy efficiency

 

All domestic and commercial buildings in the UK available to buy or rent must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). EPCs tell you how energy efficient a property is and give it a rating from A (very efficient) to G (inefficient). They let you know how costly the property will be to heat and light, and what its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.

 

EPC ratings are displayed on each property advert on the LSH website and by choosing properties that are rated more efficient you will be saving money on your energy bills. 

 

As of April 1st 2018, there is a requirement for any property rented out in the private sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an EPC. The regulatons came into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020 (information from Resident Landlords Association, 2018). 

 

 

Meter readings

 

It's easy to forget this, but take a meter reading for your gas and electricity when you move in. This way, you can pass this on to the suppliers to ensure you aren't charged for the previous occupants' usage.


If you have the cost of the bills included in your rent payment, the landlord will either keep the utility bills in their name and pay them on your behalf or request that the bills are put in the tenants’ names and the paper bills be passed to the landlord for payment.


Either way, it’s important that you keep track of how much fuel you are using. We recommend you take meter readings on a monthly basis. You may want to supply this information to the energy supplier and landlord, to ensure that the bills are not estimated. Energy providers usually over-estimate usage, so you could end up paying more than what you should. It is also important to check with the landlord/agent before the start of a tenancy whether there is a cap on utility bill usage, even if bills are fully inclusive.

 

 

Smart meters

 

Reduce your energy usage at home using a smart meter – provided at no extra cost by your energy provider!

 

Smart meters are the new generation of electricity and gas meters being rolled out across Great Britain. They let you know how much energy you are using in near real-time so you can see exactly how much you are spending on energy (rather than waiting months for your first energy bill). Once you have a smart meter you can get your energy bills under control by using the in-home display that comes with the smart meter to identify what in your house is using a lot of energy!

 

Smart meters are available at no additional cost but you should discuss having one installed with your landlord or agent before you go ahead. The time it takes to get one installed will depend on where you live and which energy supplier you are with. 

 

Check the Smart Energy GB website which has information on when each of the energy suppliers are rolling out smart meters and the benefit of smart meters to students.