Living Costs in Western Europe: Study the Good Life

Living Costs in Western Europe: Study the Good Life

A flat in Barcelona, a pint of beer in London, or a hot lunch in Paris? Fasten your wallet’s seatbelt and enjoy the ride through Europe’s best cities for postgraduate education.

Most people know about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and most will agree that doing an MBA or a Master’s in Business Studies represents the peak of the pyramid. But while postgraduate education is the very epitome of self-actualisation, and acquiring the essential ingredients to cook pasta for dinner, the very basic of physiological needs, when it comes down to paying the bill, neither is more important than the other.

Living Costs in Western Europe

In this blog post, we break down the nitty-gritty of expat education into three parts: accommodation, food and transportation.


Living Costs in Western Europe

Your biggest expense, hands down. A room in a shared house or flat can set you back as much as 1,200 GBP in London or 1,000 EUR in Paris. That is, of course, if you insist on waking up to the view of the Thames or the Seine. For the humbler among us, a room on the second floor of a semi-detached house in London’s Zone 3 could be as little as 380 GBP and as tolerable as 400 EUR in Banlieue 18 in Paris. But London and Paris are two of Europe’s most expensive cities (Ranked 1st and 6th respectively in 2014). According to the UK’s Telegraph, they are in fact the world’s 1st and 13th most expensive. A studio located in the district of Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium “Les Corts”, for instance, costs just as much as the aforementioned shared flat in the capitals of the UK and France.

And things get even more bearable if you get out of the capital. 300-500 GBP for pretty much any double room in Manchester, UK (home of Manchester Business School); 400-500 CHF for a studio in St. Gallen, Switzerland (home of University of St. Gallen); or 400-500 EUR for a studio in Fontainebleau (home of INSEAD Business School).

In general, you should be prepared to pay as little as 400 or as much as 1200 in the equivalent currency, depending on your tolerance (or intolerance) for a shared bathroom or roommates with questionable night-time habits.

Cost: 400+ EUR/GBP/CHF

Range: 400-1200 EUR/GBP/CHF


Living Costs in Western Europe

Transport can potentially be quite expensive indeed.  Large European megalopolises like London and Paris are divided into transportation zones, 1 being the innermost (city centre). As you move away from the centre of town, fares only grow bigger.

A daily travel ticket in London costs 10 GBP, and a 2-day ticket is 15 GBP. But since you’re not a tourist, you will be better off getting a transportation card. London’s Oyster Travelcard is a rechargeable e-card that lets you use all available modes of transport in Britain’s capital. The maximum fare for getting around Zones 1 and 2 on the tube is 2.90 GBP. Going back and forth from your flat share in Zone 3 and the main campus of LBS on Regent Street should not cost more than 6 GBP per day, but even if you have to switch to a bus for the second part of your journey, the cost cannot exceed 7.50 GBP, as stipulated by the UK authorities.

For a full list of fares in London, go here.

In Paris, a single ticket is 1.80 EUR, a weekly card is 21.25 EUR, and a monthly is 70 EUR for Zones 1 and 2. Moving further away naturally increases the price. We recommend getting the “carnet”, which is a strip of 10 tickets costing 14.10 EUR. That will cover your entire work week, and as a postgraduate student it could get you through the whole week, because you won’t have lectures every day.

Although transportation can be no small liability on your balance sheet, we urge you not to go riding without a ticket. The embarrassment is not worth the couple of Euros you’ll spend on looking out the bus window for half an hour.

Cost: 100+ EUR/GBP/CHF

Range: 50-200 EUR/GBP/CHF

Food & Basic Toiletries

Living Costs in Western Europe

Food in Western Europe is relatively cheap. A pallet of 6 Class A extra-large eggs in Tesco costs a mere 2 GBP. A head of lettuce in Paris will set you back one EUR and a tub of hummus in Barcelona costs the same as a pack of chewing gum – around 1.50 EUR. The minimum required groceries to cook Italian pasta or an “omelette du fromage” will be around 5 EUR, and a satisfying hot meal can be as little as 10 EUR.

But since you have to eat every day (duh!), the bill can pile up. 60 EUR/GBP/CHF per week is a safe bet, so that should be around 250-350 off your account every month. Keep in mind that this sum includes basic things like soap, shampoo and toothpaste, but does not take into account even a single visit to the Turkish kebab takeaway at the end of street. Eating out is a whole different story.

Cost: 250+ EUR/GBP/CHF

Range: 250-350 EUR/GBP/CHF

Bonus: Recreation

Well, here things get a bit crazy. Going out in Europe’s capitals can be quite the wallet-drainer. A pint of beer in London can be anywhere from 4 to 8 GBP (an average of 3.79 GBP according to the Guardian). A glass of wine in Paris will set you back 4-6 EUR, but you should not delude yourself that you will be able to resist the urge to go for another one. Because, let’s face it:

French. Wine. In Paris.

One night out at the weekend can cost anywhere from 20 to 100 EUR/GBP/CHF, depending on your… habits.

Eating out can vary even more widely. And I mean from 20 to 200.

Going to the movies? Upwards of 30 CHF in Zurich and Geneva. Want to see the next Hollywood blockbuster without the annoying subtitles of your native tongue in London? 20 GBP please. How about some popcorn to go with that? Another 20 would do it.

How much should you be ready to pay per month? Up to you.

Cost: Priceless

Range: 100-Infinity EUR/GBP/CHF


Living Costs in Western Europe

Western European capitals can be quite expensive. London, Paris and Oslo are among the world’s priciest cities. However, as you move closer to the beautiful European countryside, things get cheaper. Depending on your choice of school for your MBA or Master’s, you should be prepared to spend between 700 and 900 EUR/GBP/CHF per month, and that is actually kind of optimistic. Most importantly, if you’re strapped for money, compensate for it with time.

Time to look for cheaper options.

I promise you, you will find them.

Check also Living Costs in North America: Do It like the Americans (or Canadians)


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