Living costs

Maintaining a stress-free and planned budget is one of the key things to a happy university experience.

If you want to maintain a relatively stress-free and well-planned student budget, you need to think about costs beyond your accommodation and your study books, like your food and travel budget, any utility bills, internet, TV, and so on. These are called Living Costs. They cannot be calculated precisely because it depends a lot on your personal habits, like how often you plan on going out, whether you choose to cook or order take away, what are your normal spending habits, etc. Whatever your lifestyle may be, we gathered a lot of local deals and general tips on how to save money and plan your student budget.

If you need more information on accommodation prices have a look at our Accommodation Page.

Which University provide a breakdown of the cost of living in Bournemouth. It provides you with an indication of our regional costs and average student spending, rather than a true reflective cost.  To find out more about the data from Which University, head over to take a look at their Student Calculator here:  AECC University College average monthly living costs.

We provide some tips below on keeping your living costs low whilst studying at AECC University College.  


1. Choose to cook

Everyone loves the occasional Dominos or KFC take-away, but you can be surprised how much money you can save by cooking most of your own meals. A week’s worth of shopping should be around £40, that including fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, diary, coffee, tea, sweets and treats. Not only that but it’s also a great way to eat healthier, because you can measure what and how much you include in a meal, and you’ll know it’s freshly made. We have microwaves in our Student Lounge area making it that much easier for you to reheat your meals while you’re on campus.

Ben, one of our students, wrote a helpful blog on staying healthy at university. Have a read.

2. Where to shop for food

There are many affordable places where you can buy fresh and variable foods. There is an Aldi just a few minutes’ walk from campus, where you can find fresh produce at a great price. Across Aldi, there is a Lidl, which is popular for offering different international and great quality foods. You can also find a Sainsbury down at Boscombe High Street.
If you live in accommodation halls you will find an ASDA just around the corner, where you can buy pretty much anything you need for your kitchen, not just food – all kitchen appliances and cutlery, plates and dishes, even bedding. They also offer next day home delivery for just £1, to save you the hassle to go to the store on those crazy studying days. There is also a Tesco Express just on the other side of the street – great for when you’re in a hurry or just need that odd loaf of bread or bottle of olive oil.

Top tips:

  • Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry. You will impulsively buy more products than you actually want or need.

  • Make a list and stick to it. When you have a clear direction of what you need to get, you will stay on track and not buy anything unnecessary or impulsive.

3. When you eat out or order in:

Part of the student experience is treating yourself every now and then to an unusual cuisine or just some comfort food, like pizza. You can plan this in your budget and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Bournemouth is a very student-orientated town so there are frequently if not always student deals going on. We’ve gathered some of the best ones for you.

- Close to campus:

  • Brewhouse and Kitchen: A local favourite, famous for its fun Tuesday Quiz Nights. They offer an exclusive 10% discount to all AECC University College students. You only need to show your student ID.

  • Kitchen Café: It is just around the corner, and they offer all day breakfast and an early lunch. As an AECC University College student you’ll receive a 20% off your bill – perfect for a quick lunch between lectures.
  • Le Munch: This lovely café is a 3-minute walk from campus, offers al-day breakfast, fresh Italian coffee, fresh sandwiches and homemade soups. And on top of that, a 10% discount to AECC University College students.

  • Little Pickle: A great local café which caters for everyone, whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or you eat everything. They offer all AECC University College students a free tea or coffee with any breakfast ordered before 12pm on weekdays.

- Down town in Bournemouth:

  • Noodle bar: What better way to warm yourself up on a cold and rainy day than with a hot and delicious noodle soup? Noodle Bar hold a regular student discount, you just need to present your student card. They also have different offers for most days of the week and sometimes they do a little collaboration with Glazed Donuts which is just across the street from them, so you might get a 2 4 1 deal on some delicious fresh donuts and pastries.

  • Turtle Bay: If you want to try something different, then maybe the spices of the Caribbean will intrigue you. Turtle Bay’s lunch meal starts at just £5, while their regular menu options are absolutely massive so you can easily share with a friend. Also, their 2 4 1 on cocktails runs for most of the day.

  • El Murino: When you say comfort food most people will think of Italian cuisines, and with the right to do so. El Murino is a lovely Italian restaurant that offers mouth-watering pizzas and lasagnes. They also have daily deals, such as a free desert when you buy a main, or a free bottle of wine for every starter and main. Definitely worth checking out.

Top tip: Wherever you end up do ask if they have any offers for students or any daily deals. You might just be lucky and score a free dessert or a discount.

Read one of our students' take on the best deals locally to eat out on a student budget.


Traveling in the UK might seem rather expensive but there are some really good student deals if you invest in a student travel card for the different means of transportation.

1. Local travel

If you think you’ll be travelling a lot around town it will be worthwhile to get a bus card. You can either get one for More buses, which run from the accommodation halls down to campus and all the way down town. You can also get an annual travel card for Yellow Buses. Our amazing Students’ Union have arranged a reduced price of £250 for AECC University College students who want to purchase an annual student travel card. That’s less than £1 a day. Yellow buses travel all around town and there are 5 different yellow buses which you can catch from a bus stop just outside the accommodation halls.

2. Travelling nationally by bus

If you’re someone who likes travelling and you’d like to experience the UK beyond Bournemouth, National Express have you covered with their Young Persons Coachcard for £12.50 per year or £30 for 3 years. This card will guarantee you ⅓ off all Standard and Fully Flexible fares and 15% off travel to events and festivals.

3. Travelling by rail

If you’re aged 16 to 25 you can enjoy 1/3 off rail fares when you go by train if you purchase a 16-25 Railcard. You can also apply for one if you’re a mature student in full time study, as long as you’re eligible. It costs £30 for one year or £70 pounds for 3 years, and it pays off in just a few trips. Not only that but the Railcard also saves you money on restaurants, hotels and more.

4. Travelling with planes

If you’re an international student and travel quite often back and forth, especially around holidays, or you just like travelling to further destinations, you should definitely check with different airlines and airports if they offer any loyalty cards or travel mile cards. You’ll be surprised how many miles you can earn with a few trips. British Airways for instance have a reward programme called Executive Club. It’s free and allows you to collect Avios when you fly with them and their partners, when you take a holiday, hotel stay or car rental with British Airways Holidays and their partner companies. In time you can use your points to help pay for your next escape.


Being a student involves more than attending your lectures and seminars, doing your coursework, and studying for exams. When you work really hard sometimes you need to reward yourself with a night out with friends, a trip to the cinema or a little shopping therapy.

1. Cinema offers

For anyone who enjoys going to the cinema to watch all the new blockbusters, Bournemouth has a big Odeon cinema that offers premier seating, iSense, 3D and Imax experiences. Luckily, they also offer student discounts and great deal tickets every Monday. Another great ‘hack’ is the fact that The Real Greek restaurant which is within the cinema building, offer a 25% student discount from Sunday to Thursday. So you can catch a movie and have dinner or lunch for a reasonable price.
If you’re a real movie lover, then you should take advantage of Odeon’s Limitless membership. For £17.99 a month for a period of one year, you will be able to watch all the movies your heart desires and take advantage of some exclusive offers, such as 30% off at selected restaurants, including Frankie & Benny’s, Garfunkel’s, Chiquito.

2. Happy hour

Occasionally you might want to have a fun night out with friends, or maybe just grab a few drinks in the late afternoon. Almost every restaurant and bar in Bournemouth has a type of Happy hour going on at specific times, especially on weekends. A really popular student bar is Aruba, which is next door to the Oceanarium and has a lovely view of the sea. They have a 2 for £10 offer on cocktails if you are a student.

3. Groupon

If you fancy a little retreat, spa day or you’re looking for an experiential trip, then have a look at Groupon. They have varied and interesting offers all year round. You can also find a lot of services and courses on offer there.

4. Shopping

Every now and then we need a little retail therapy to lift our spirits. Whatever your style and budget is, you can definitely find what you need in the local area.

    • Boscombe: If you prefer buying unique and vintage pieces, you can find a wide variety of antique, vintage and charity shops around AECC University College. You can also visit Sovereign Shopping Centre, which is just a 10-minute walk from campus, where you can find more popular shops like JD and Sports Direct.

    • Bournemouth: Bournemouth high street houses most popular brands, such as Zara, River Island, Primark, the Body Shop, Sports Direct and more. You can also find some quirky little shops like The Flying Tiger.

    • Castle Point: Castle Point shopping centre has most high street favourites from the likes on Next, New Look, TK Maxx, Marks and Spencer so you can easily spend a few hours browsing around.

Top tip: It’s always worthwhile to wait until there’s a sale going on or until it’s holiday season because there will be very good discounts. Shops also hold big sales between seasons, so that they can ‘clean up’ their old collection before introducing the new one.


Utility bills such as gas, water, electricity, heating and internet are dependent on where you live, if you live alone or you share a flat/house, and what is your average usage. If you live in accommodation halls, these will be covered in your rent so you won’t need to worry about that. If you rent private property, however, you need to consider putting money aside every week/month to make sure you cover these expenses. Living in Bournemouth, you will probably pay around £100 per month. This website calculates the approximate price of some local towns in Dorset.


If you have valuable possessions, it’s good practice to have them insured as soon as you arrive at University. The insurance will depend on the number and value of your possessions.


You might think you don’t really need to count this in as an expense, but toothpaste and toilet paper will take part of your budget. That of course doesn’t mean you need to restrict yourself from buying them, but you can be smart and save some money. Boots have recently launched their 10% off everything in-store and online at all times, if you are a student and have their points card, and they regularly have sales, so keep your eyes peeled. Also, make sure to register for their points advantage card (it’s for free) and stat collecting points for your purchases. Superdrug also have a regular student discount. Another great place to visit when buying toiletries is Wilko. You can find quite a few great deals on your favourite brands.


If you plan on watching or recording programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they’re broadcast, or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer – live, catch up or on demand, you will need a TV licence. It costs £154.50, which may seem like a lot but the fines for not paying it can go up to £1000. Read more on the Government website if you’re not sure if you need to pay for a TV licence or not.