Student life can be expensive. In addition to your rent, you’ll likely have to pay quite a few bills while you’re a student.  And when it comes to these student bills, you probably have lots of questions.

  • What bills am I responsible for?
  • How much do bills in a student house cost?
  • How do I budget student bills? 

Whether this is your first time paying bills or you’ve had bad experiences and want tips to do things better next time, we’ve got everything you need to know about bills in a student house.

Student house bills - which ones might you need to pay?

If you’ve been living in halls, all your bills are probably included in the amount you pay each month or term.

Once you move out of halls, some bills might still be included in your rent. But you might have to sort out paying some of the bills separately yourself.

Here are the main bills to be aware of:

Student utility bills

Utilities are the main resources needed to run a household, meaning they make up the bulk of your bills.

Gas/electricity

Your energy - gas or electricity - costs will likely be your largest bill expense as a student.

Some houses run only on electricity, while others run on gas and electricity - you’ll want to find this out before you move into your student house.

Water

You don’t get to choose your water provider: there’s one provider for the area you live in and you’ll have to stick with them.

Find your water supplier here.

If you’re a full-time student in Scotland and you only live with other full-time students, it’s your lucky day: you won’t have to pay water bills. 🥳

Other key student bills

Broadband

Whether you want to stream the latest Disney+ series, hop onto video lectures or download the reading for your course, you’re going to want an Internet connection - and a good one at that.

Prices vary a lot depending on the provider and what’s included. Internet speeds are usually the main factor - and what you plan to use the Internet for will determine the speed you’ll want.

For example, a household big on online gaming will need a much faster connection than one mostly planning to use the Internet for general browsing.

Here’s a guide to what broadband speed you might need.

Contents insurance

While this isn’t a necessity, it’s one you might like to have just in case. 
Contents insurance is there to protect you, your money and your valuables if anything goes wrong. You can use it to protect any valuable items in your student house if they’re lost, broken or stolen.

This could be your AirPods, laptop (you definitely don’t want to lose this at uni!), trainers, phone or anything else of value.

You don’t want to be the one telling your mates how you came home to a broken window and all your stuff gone and, because you didn’t have insurance, you now have to pay for all new replacements. So sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Learn more about student insurance in our guide.

Bills you probably won’t have to pay as a student

Council Tax

Households where everyone is a full-time student don’t have to pay Council Tax. 🎉

If you’ve been sent a Council Tax bill and don’t think you should’ve been, you can apply for an exemption.

However, if you live with part-time students, or non-students, your house will be charged Council Tax. You’ll need to have a chat with them about whether you’ll help pay for it, but as a full-time student, you’re under no obligation to pay.

Be wary: if your lease starts before your course begins, you’ll likely have to pay Council Tax for the period when you aren’t a student. For example, if you start your lease on September 10th, but your course starts on September 20th, you’ll need to pay Council Tax for those 10 days. 

See more details from GOV.UK here.

TV Licence

You may have to pay for a TV Licence if you watch live TV or use BBC iPlayer in your student house.

But there are a few reasons you might not need to pay this.

  • If your landlord already pays the TV Licence - this should be noted in your tenancy agreement
  • If you only stream shows (e.g. on Netflix, and don’t watch any live TV or BBC iPlayer)
  • If your permanent address is your family home and your family is paying for a TV Licence there, you don’t need to pay! Get more info here
  • If you do need a licence, you’ll only need one for the whole household, as long as you’re all on one joint tenancy agreement.

Plus, you should be able to get a discount for any time that you’re not actually living in your student house (e.g. over the Christmas/summer holidays).

How much are bills in a student house?

The cost of student house bills depends on many factors - there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

Some of the main factors determining how much you pay are:

  • Location - Bills in London are likely to be more expensive than in Sheffield
  • Size and type of accommodation - Sharing with more people = cheaper bills per person
  • Energy efficiency of the property - More energy efficient = cheaper
  • Personal choices - E.g. how much heating you use during winter, how conscious you are about turning off lights etc.
  • What you don’t need to pay for - Don’t need a TV Licence, for example? Your bills will cost less

The average cost of student bills

According to Split The Bills, a four-student house can expect to pay £2,165.76 a year for bills, excluding rent - about £45 per student per month.

The biggest contributor is gas and electric, costing £17 per student per month on average.

See more of a breakdown for different house sizes on the Split The Bills website.

Things to be aware of when it comes to bills

Contract lengths

You probably won’t want an 18-month broadband contract when you’re only living in your student house for a year. Some providers offer nine- or 12-month contracts, so you’ll want to seek those out.

If the contracts you’re looking at are longer than the duration of your tenancy agreement, check the conditions for early cancellation. Some providers charge a significant fee to cancel your contract early or might charge you upfront for the remainder of the contract.

For example, if after 12 months you want to cancel your 18-month broadband contract, you might have to pay the value of the final six months of the contract in one lump sum. 

Don’t leave it to the last minute to sort your bills

Aim to get all your bills and their switchover dates sorted well in advance.

Particularly with broadband, you might have to wait weeks until your activation date. It’s better to set everything up slightly early than to be left without. Nobody wants to trek to the library just to use the Internet all the time, or have to ask your neighbours to use their shower. 

Take meter readings as soon as you move in

You don’t want to pay the bills of the students who lived in your house before you, right?

If you’re on a meter for your gas, electricity or water, take readings as soon as you move into the property and send them to your provider (whether you continue with the existing provider or decide to switch to a new one).

This will ensure you and your housemates only pay for what you actually use. Otherwise, it’ll be your word against the provider’s when it comes to how much you’ve used - and you’ll likely end up paying more.

Check for any bills already included in your tenancy agreement

Your house might have WiFi included in the monthly payment to your landlord. Or it might include the water bill, meaning you don’t have to pay it separately.

If you’re not sure if any bills are included in your contract, ask your landlord for clarification. There may be bills already accounted for. And you definitely don’t want to waste money paying for the same thing twice.

Read all the T&Cs!

Don’t take the price in big, shiny letters on the advert as the be-all and end-all of the contract.

As the age-old saying goes, always read the small print.

There may be other conditions that mean you get charged much more over the duration of the contract. This could be a price hike after six months, for example, or a rate increase if your usage goes above a certain level.

We’d love to think that companies aren’t trying to catch you out - but that’s not reality, so always be on guard. 

Tips for budgeting student bills and saving money

Play the utility companies against each other

Because there’s so much competition, there are always deals on offer for student utility bills.

Don’t just go with the first company you come across. Shop around, get quotes from multiple companies and see what’s the best deal you can get.

You can even use one company’s offer to negotiate with another. You could say something like ‘Company X has offered me Y, I’m going to need you to offer something better than that for me to consider using your service’.

What have you got to lose?

Be mindful of usage

Find the best deals you can - but also be mindful of how much of each utility you’re using, to save even more money.

This is good practice in terms of being environmentally friendly, too.

If you’re struggling with the cold, use as much heating as you need. But if nobody is in the house or it’s not that cold, consider turning it off. These seemingly small habits will be worth a lot over the long run.

Use budgeting apps to help you track expenses

A great way to keep on top of your finances and see how you’re spending money over time is with a budgeting app.

The Blackbullion Money Manager app, created specifically for students, allows you to connect all your different accounts and track your spending automatically.

You can set up custom categories to see how you’re spending in different areas (e.g. rent, utility bills, entertainment etc.).

Download the app now.

Invest in your financial knowledge

It’s always good to learn about money and level up your knowledge. You’ll feel more in control of your finances and better able to deal with student bills and the other costs of student life, helping you make better decisions that lead to a better life.


As a next step, you might want to look at these 5 ways to build a strong financial foundation.

Need tips on sharing bills in a student house? Read this blog.

Or you could log into the Blackbullion website and complete some learning to get on top of your finances as a student and take control of your financial life, going from the basics to more advanced personal finance topics.

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