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The cheapest student cities in the UK

Cardiff is the cheapest UK city for students according to the Natwest Student Living Index

  • Student finance
  • Student life
Seeta Bhardwa's avatar

Seeta Bhardwa

Editor, THE Student
July 19 2017


New research has revealed that Cardiff is the cheapest city in the UK for students to live in. 

The Welsh capital was closely followed by Aberdeen and Durham as the most cost-effective cities for students, according to the latest Natwest Student Living Index.

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The Student Living Index 2017 surveyed almost 3,500 students across 35 popular university cities to determine the most affordable place to study. The survey examined a number of different factors such as how much students spend on food, rent and bills, how much time they spend studying, working and socialising, and how much term-time income they receive. 

Students in the top three cheapest cities are among those receiving the most money – from a range of different sources – during term time. Students in Cardiff and Aberdeen received the majority of their income form part-time work, while students in Durham received most of their income from their parents.

Hull students, however, receive the least from their mum and dad but the most from bursaries and scholarships.

The biggest expenditure for students is food shopping, toiletries and household items, spending an average of £78.10 a month. The average student spends £43.30 a month on going out and socialising with friends. 

Students in Reading spend the most time socialising a month (38.6 hours) and students in Aberystwyth spend the most per month on alcohol (£50.87) compared with the national average of £38.61. Students in Cambridge, Canterbury and Norwich spend the least on alcohol. 

In terms of budgeting, 65 per cent of students either budget carefully and keep track of their spending, or try to budget but don't always stick to it. Some 29 per cent of the respondents do not budget at all but say that they’re not frivolous with their money, and only six per cent do not consider what they’re spending at all. 

The cheapest UK cities for students

Ranking  City 
1st  Cardiff
2nd  Aberdeen
3rd  Durham
4th  Canterbury
5th  Swansea
6th  Manchester
7th  Reading
8th  Leicester
9th  York
10th  Sheffield
11th  Leeds
12th  Hull
13th  Portsmouth
14th  Poole
15th  Coventry
16th  Birmingham
17th  Newcastle
18th  Oxford
19th  Edinburgh
20th  Cambridge
21st  Southampton
22nd  Plymouth
23rd  Nottingham
24th  Liverpool
25th  Exeter
26th  Norwich
27th  Brighton
28th  Belfast
29th  Dundee
30th  Stirling
31st  Bristol
32nd  Aberystwyth
33rd  St. Andrews
34th  London
35th  Glasgow

Read more: 'Best value universities in the UK' revealed

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