#UniShorts: 3 Cheapest Cities for Students in the UK

It’s important to factor in your budget when considering which university to go to, so here’s a list of the most affordable cities in the UK to help you out.

View of Sheffield's Town Hall and Peace Gardens in the summer

Sheffield is one of the most affordable cities for students in the UK, offering a high-quality student experience for a low cost of living (photo by Nigel Jarvis/ Shutterstock.com)

When you’re picking your top choices during the university application process, you’ll likely take several important factors into account: the course, the location of the university, the extracurriculars and social life on offer, and the cost of living. 

Here is a rundown of the three cheapest cities for students in the UK, so you can pick universities that allow you to save money on vital essentials like rent, utility bills, food shopping, and transport costs. 

If you want a bit more information on the best university cities and towns for students in the UK, check out this in-depth article.

  • Sheffield 

Sheffield is the largest city in South Yorkshire, and is also one of the cheapest places around when it comes to cost of living for students. 

If you’re in university accommodation as a first-year, you’ll be looking at paying just over £100 per week for rent costs (bills included). You’ll also find that private housing tends to be pretty cheap in Sheffield, with rent rates ranging between £350 and £480 per month (bills included). 

As far as social costs go, you can find a high-quality pint for £3.50 in most of the city’s pubs. Your food shop should only cost between £20 and £30 per week, or between £100 and £150 per month. 

It’s also pretty easy to get around the centre of town by foot (although be warned that the University of Sheffield’s libraries and Students’ Union are at the top of a pretty steep hill. On the other hand, the award-winning Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union is slap-bang in the middle of town, just across the road from the train station. 

  • Cheapest Cities for Students in the UK: Glasgow 

It’s a well-known fact that Glasgow is one of the most affordable cities in the UK: it’s more than possible to do your weekly food shop for between £20 and £40. 

In terms of accommodation, you’ll be looking at spending between £350 and £550 per month (not including the extra £20 to £40 you’ll need to spend on interent bills). This might sound a bit pricey, but compare these costs to rent rates in London, where you’ll likely have to pay upwards of £650 in most areas of the city (and these are among the cheapest rates). 

Going out in Glasgow is also pretty cheap, with the average pint costing £3.82. That’s considerably less than the average cost of a similar drink in Edinburgh, which is £4.55. 

  • Birmingham 

Birmingham is another affordable city, with rent prices between £400 and £550 per month for students (depending on whether you want to live in student accommodation or a private flat). 

A typical weekly food shop should cost between £35 and £55, depending on which supermarket you prefer. If you’re a pub person, you’ll find an average pint for just over £4 (making Birmingham a more expensive city than both Sheffield and Glasgow as far as going out is concerned). 

Gas and electricity costs should amount to between £1800 and £2200 per year, which works out to between £35 and £42 per month. 

In terms of public transport, you can get a student bus pass for £160 for a term (that works out to just under £8.50 per week, for unlimited travel on any National Express buses in and around Birmingham). 

Final Thoughts 

It’s important to think about your budget when you’re applying to a university in the UK. For example, you might love the look of a course at UCL or LSE but aren’t too keen on the high cost of living in and around central London. 

When it comes to essential expenses like student accommodation, grocery shopping, transport costs, and utility bills like electricity and gas, you won’t find any UK cities that are much more affordable than Sheffield, Glasgow, and Birmingham. 

These cities are home to some of the best universities in the country, so you won’t have to sacrifice any dip in academic standards for choosing a place with a lower cost of living. 

If you want more advice on the UK university admissions and application process, check out our A&J Education info pack for free.  

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