Cost of Living in UK VS USA: What to choose as an International students

Cost of Living in UK VS USA: What to choose as an International students

Fri Nov 24 2023 Effa Iqbal

Studying abroad presents an exciting opportunity for many international students, albeit with a substantial financial commitment, especially in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

Navigating the costs associated with tuition, accommodation, and living expenses requires careful consideration for prospective international students.

In this article, we will conduct an in-depth analysis of the expenses associated with studying in the US and the UK, aiming to empower students to make well-informed decisions.

Cost of living in UK

Cost of University in the US vs UK

The cost of university education stands as a pivotal factor in the decision-making process for students pursuing higher education abroad.

International students, in particular, face the additional challenge of elevated tuition fees, accommodation costs, and living expenses.

1. Tuition Fees

Tuition fees, encompassing the cost of academic instruction, rank among the most significant expenses for international students abroad.

In the US, tuition fees exhibit considerable variation based on the university type, program, and location. Public universities generally offer lower tuition fees than private counterparts.

In-state tuition fees at public universities range from $10,000 to $30,000 per academic year, while private institutions may charge between $30,000 and $60,000. Out-of-state tuition fees for public universities can significantly surpass in-state fees.

Contrastingly, the UK adopts a tiered fee system with generally lower tuition fees than the US. Undergraduate fees range from £10,000 to £35,000, while postgraduate fees span £10,000 to £50,000. Researching and comparing tuition fees for different institutions and programs is crucial.

Additionally, accounting for ancillary costs like textbooks, lab fees, and technology fees is essential. International students may also explore scholarship and financial aid opportunities to alleviate tuition costs.

2. Accommodation

Accommodation costs present a substantial financial aspect for international students studying abroad, with both the US and UK offering various options such as university-owned housing, private rentals, and homestays.

In the US, students can opt for on-campus living or off-campus private rentals. The cost of on-campus housing varies widely; for instance, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), it ranges from $14,000 to $19,000 per academic year.

Similarly, in the UK, students can choose university-owned accommodation or private rentals. Costs depend on factors like location, size, and amenities.

At the University of Edinburgh, for instance, university-owned accommodation costs range from £4,420 to £9,890 per academic year.

Thorough research on accommodation options, considering factors like location and amenities, is crucial. Planning for utilities and additional expenses is also vital, and an early start to the accommodation search is recommended.

3. Living Expenses

Living expenses, covering basic necessities like food, transportation, and personal items, vary based on the location and student lifestyle.

In the US, living expenses fluctuate significantly with the university’s location. Students can expect to spend approximately $10,000 to $15,000 per academic year.

In the UK, living expenses tend to be lower compared to the US, ranging around £10,000 to £12,000 per academic year. Researching the cost of living, considering factors like housing, transportation, and food, is imperative.

Creating a budget and exploring on-campus employment opportunities can help manage living expenses effectively.


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4. Healthcare

International students in the US and UK may need to acquire health insurance as a prerequisite for enrollment.

In the US, health insurance is mandatory, with costs ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 per year.

Specific universities, such as the University of California, Berkeley, may have insurance costs ranging from $1,200 to $5,000 annually, depending on coverage.

In the UK, international students studying for six months or longer are eligible for free medical treatment from the National Health Service (NHS). Some universities, however, mandate private health insurance. Costs vary based on coverage and medical history.

Students should factor healthcare costs into their budget, researching available options and ensuring compliance with visa requirements.

Study in UK or USA


The cost of university education for international students in the US and the UK demands thorough consideration of financial resources.

While the US generally entails higher tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses can vary significantly by location. Conversely, the UK typically features lower tuition fees, offset by higher accommodation and living costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do tuition fees differ for different programs and institutions?

Yes, tuition fees vary based on program type, institution, and location. Undergraduate programs generally have lower fees than graduate programs, and public universities usually charge less than private institutions.

Are there any differences in the cost of education for international and domestic students?

Yes, international students typically pay higher tuition fees. In the US, they are classified as out-of-state students, paying higher fees than in-state students.

In the UK, international students do not qualify for government funding, resulting in higher tuition fees compared to UK and EU students.

Can international students work while studying in the US and UK?

Yes, international students are permitted to work part-time while studying. However, restrictions on weekly work hours exist, and certain programs may prohibit work during the academic year.



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