Managing your money

There are quite a few costs when it comes to a year abroad, so here are some things for you to bear in mind.

Fees, grants and loans

Your university will give you more specific information regarding tuition fees, grants and loans for your year abroad, as it will depend on where you are going for your year abroad and what you are doing.


One great way to stick to your budget is to withdraw the cash each week and then only spend that

Budgeting is the best way to manage your money while abroad. You need to bear in mind that grants can take a while to come through and that there will be more “start-up” costs when you first arrive. Be realistic about how much you have and the cost of things in the country where you’re living. Some things to consider are: rent (does this include bills?); travel costs; food; hobbies and socialising; clothing; phone credit and other unexpected costs.

Allow for trips home and other travel which can’t be accounted for on a weekly basis.

One way to stick to your budget is to withdraw the cash you have budgeted for a week and then only use that. It’s easy to lose track of what you’ve been spending if you’re frequently paying on card.

Using your home bank account

You could withdraw money from your home bank account while you’re abroad. However, this can get expensive with bank charges and you don’t always get a great exchange rate.

Before you go, make sure you let your bank know that you’re going abroad. As a safety measure, banks often block cards if they are used in different locations to usual in case the use is fraudulent.

Using a foreign bank account

You may need to open a bank account in the country where you’re living to pay for things such as rent, or to receive your salary. Once you have opened it, you can transfer money from your home account, although this will incur some costs.

When you are opening a bank account abroad, make it clear that you will only be staying for a year. Check about overdraft, interest rates, charges and other terms and conditions associated with the account so that you aren’t caught out by any misunderstandings. If you can, take a native speaker with you when you open your account.

You’ll need to take certain documents with you to open an account, such as:

  • Your passport
  • A copy of your birth certificate and a translation of it
  • Proof of UK student status
  • Proof of address
  • A second form of ID, such as a driving licence

If you can, double check with your university as these documents may vary between countries. They’ll be able to advise you as to whether you need official translations of any documents.

Supermarket loyalty cards

You’ll probably start going to the same supermarket for your food shopping, so find out if you can get a points or discount card. This can help you keep the costs of your weekly shop down.

Unexpected costs

When you first arrive, there are a lot of one-off costs so make sure you allow for them. Here are some examples of one-off costs that you could come across:

  • Accommodation deposit and rent
  • Buying a new mobile phone
  • Membership to societies or universities
  • Household items (bedding, cutlery, towels, stationery etc.)
  • Course books
  • Travel cards