Ubergrad Logo

The cost of living for international students in UK decreased by 4% and here’s top 10 affordable student cities in UK

In spite of being recognised as one of the best destinations to study in, most international students ignore UK due to its high costs of living. However, with the impending Brexit nearing its January 31st (2020) deadline, the Pound value is set to fall, which will make lives easier for international students. 

If you are fixated to study in one of the top study abroad destinations but are deterred by its high cost of living, then the wiser thing to do is to choose affordable cities in that country. A recent survey by Natwest Student Living Index 2019 has shown that there has been a 4% decrease in the cost of living for international students in the UK. So, let us look at what insights the survey has to provide and I will share the top 10 affordable student cities in UK at the end of this article. 

Insights of Student Living Index 2019 by Natwest

While it is known that London has always been the least affordable city to live in and study, cities like Brighton & Hull have also become expensive. This is mostly due to the decrease in term-time income (Sources of income like student loans, money from parents, income from part-time jobs, etc, for students to survive during semesters) and an increase in the cost of living in these cities. 

Over the last year, the term-time income for cities like London has dropped by almost £200 (approx 18,000 INR) and £400 (approx 37,400 INR) for Hull. The rent prices have also increased by £20 (approx 1,900 INR) in London and South East student cities. 

In addition to the above cities and when compared to the rest of UK, all Scottish student cities have reported high costs of living due to having the least term-time income in the whole of UK. 

Most affordable cities in the UK which are in its South West and North West have all reported an increase in their term-time income and a decrease in the cost of living. Before we jump into other insights, let us understand how the facts and data were taken and analysed. 


3.604 students throughout UK were considered for the survey. It was conducted between 31st May and 18th June of 2019. Factors like a student’s spending attitude and habits were considered to determine motivations and expectations. In addition to these, differences between term-time income and vacation-time incomes, university city relations were measured to provide us with the following analysis. 

Student Living Index = Average monthly living and accommodation costs / Average monthly income

12 important Insights of Student Living Index 2019 for UK

1) The average cost of living for students in UK has overall decreased by 4% compared to last year. 

2) Cardiff is the most affordable city in the UK for 2019.

3) Students studying in Bristol, Manchester, and Cardiff have the highest term-time income.

4) Belfast and Dundee are the most affordable in terms of student rents in UK.

5) Student loans make up the most percentage of share of a student’s monthly income, followed by a family’s contribution and part-time work. 

6) Students from Manchester, Poole, and Aberdeen have the biggest income from term-time work. 

7) While it is obvious that the time spent on academic studies takes the top spot for students in UK, going out or socialising and habits take the next spots and are followed by part-time work. 

8) Students studying in Stirling and Poole spent the maximum time in part-time work, compared to students in other UK cities. 

9) Outside of necessities, students in UK spend the most on socialising and going out with friends, followed by other hobbies and academic studies. 

10) Spending on necessities like supermarket spends and eating out are the highest, on the other hand, there has been a decrease in household bills compared to last year. 

11) Students studying in Glasgow and Belfast are the least stressed when it came to managing money.

12) The happiest of students in the UK are found in cities Aberystwyth and Dundee

In addition to the above insights, it was also found that the cost of living was not the most important aspect to choose a particular university. 48% of students studying in UK have mentioned that it is the Subject choice which was their first priority in choosing a particular university, followed by the university reputation.  

Top 10 affordable student cities in UK

10) Belfast

Average term-time income: £964.2  (approx 90,000 INR)

Rent (monthly): £325.9 (approx 30,400 INR)

Bills (monthly): £22.9 (approx 2,150 INR)

9) Portsmouth

Average term-time income: £1247.1 (approx 1,16,000 INR)

Rent (monthly): £507.7 (approx 47,300 INR)

Bills (monthly): £27.9 (approx 2,600 INR)

8) Exeter

Average term-time income: £1217.1 (approx 1,14,000 INR)

Rent (monthly): £524.3 (approx 49,000 INR)

Bills (monthly): £22.5 (approx 2,100 INR)

7) Sheffield

Average term-time income: £1158.4 (approx 1,08,000 INR)

Rent (monthly): £448.9 (approx 41,820 INR)

Bills (monthly): £17.1 (approx 1,590 INR)

6) Norwich

Average term-time income: £1112.6 (approx 1,03,600 INR)

Rent (monthly): £411.8 (approx 38,360 INR)

Bills (monthly): £48.1 (approx 4,480 INR)

5) Manchester

Average term-time income: £1373.9 (approx 1,28,000 INR)

Rent (monthly): £496.6 (approx 46,260 INR)

Bills (monthly): £23.6 (approx 2,200 INR)

4) Southampton

Average term-time income: £1262.5 (approx 1,17,600 INR)

Rent (monthly): £473.9 (approx 44,145 INR)

Bills (monthly): £32.1 (approx 2,990 INR)

3) Leicester

Average term-time income: £1312.3 (approx 1,22,300 INR)

Rent (monthly): £469.3 (approx 43,700 INR)

Bills (monthly): £35.7 (approx 3,325 INR)

2) Bristol

Average term-time income: £1387.2 (approx 1,29,000 INR)

Rent (monthly): £489.5 (approx 45,600 INR)

Bills (monthly): £33.3 (approx 3,100 INR)

1) Cardiff

Average term-time income: 1321.8 (approx 1,23,000 INR)

Rent (monthly): £375.4 (approx 35,000 INR)

Bills (monthly): £46.8 (approx 4,400 INR)

Now that you know the most affordable student cities in UK, what’s stopping you? Contact us to get your study in UK journey started.

For all those SMART Ubergrads who would let the experts do what they do the best!

Ubergrad.com is a D-I-Y (Do-It-Yourself) study abroad platform that is democratizing the way students APPLY and ENROLL at top universities overseas for graduate studies. You don't need to go to any person/agency for help. You can do it all by yourself from the comfort of your home !!

  • PREPARE - You can prepare and ace the mandatory tests like GRE, IELTS, etc. using our AI-enabled personalized adaptive learning platform and mock tests, at your own pace and comfort.
  • CHECK - Using our proprietary advanced Data Science-backed Machine Learning algorithms (U-SURE & U-SURE PRO), you can get best-fit courses and universities based on your profile parameters - CGPA, Bachelor's degree, Test scores, etc (up to 42 parameters).
  • SEARCH - You can then research these universities and get all the required information/data like required test scores, GPA, tuition fees, global and national rankings, WES evaluation, scholarships, etc., all in one place.
  • SELECT - Using our advanced filters like Tuition Fees, GRE Waiver, Duolingo acceptance, etc., you can shortlist and finalize the universities you want to apply to.
  • APPLY & ENROLL - You can apply to the universities finalized by using our step-by-step self-help resources (guides, videos, blogs, etc.) along with unique samples for SOPs, LORs, Transcripts, University Sample Applications, Admit Letters, Financial Documents, I20/COA/CAS, etc. You will also be getting WhatsApp/Email alerts to track the progress all along the process when you use our proprietary 'Application Tracking' feature.
  • VISA - Now that you have your I-20/CAS/COA, you can find step-by-step resources (guides, videos, blogs, etc.) along with samples for Visa Documents (DS-160 filling), etc as well as mock-visa drills to complete the most critical step of the entire process.
  • TRAVEL - You can find options/resources to book your flight tickets, buy forex/forex cards, international SIM cards, pay tuition fees, etc., all on our website.

In case, you need help at any stage of the process – from ‘shortlisting’ universities to finally ‘enrolling’ at your chosen university abroad, Ubergrad's Expert Counsellors are always available and are just a phone call away (Book a call by clicking on "Talk to Ubergrad Counsellor" button).