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Cardiff the Most Affordable City in the UK for Students

By Craig O

Updated June 7, 2019 Updated June 7, 2019

Cardiff is the most affordable city in the UK to attend university, according to a new survey.

The Student Living Index, published by Natwest, calculates the average income and expenditure of students living in each UK city. Students in Cardiff benefit from some of the cheapest accommodation in the UK, with the average monthly rent just £384.23, and also earn more from part-time work than the average UK student.

After Cardiff, the next affordable cities in the UK are Aberdeen, Durham, Canterbury and Swansea. The top five least affordable cities are Glasgow, London, St Andrews, Aberystwyth and Bristol.

London’s status as only the second most-expensive city in the UK might be surprising given its reputation and the fact it has the highest average monthly rent by far (£584.32), but students living there spend less on alcohol and going out than the national average.

Comparing the Student Living Index with QS Best Student Cities

In the QS Best Student Cities 2017 ranking, only eight UK cities were included, so it’s hard to make a full comparison with the much more thorough Student Living Index. Cardiff, for example, doesn’t feature at all in the Best Student Cities, with Newcastle Upon Tyne coming top for affordability in the UK instead.

Even allowing for the difference in scope, there are notable differences between the two rankings. Glasgow, for example, is deemed to be the least affordable city by the Student Living Index, but comes second for affordability in Best Student Cities. One potential factor behind this discrepancy is the fact Glasgow ranks dead last for term-time income (just £786.60 per term). Although the city itself is not that unaffordable, the average student has less money to spend than those studying elsewhere.

Who drinks the most alcohol?

via GIPHY

As well as the cost of rent, the Student Living Index also provides information on which students spend the most on alcohol, going out and fashion. Is your university full of wide-eyed freshers downing pint after pint in expensive nightclubs, or catwalk-ready fashionistas who are constantly dressed to impress? If so, you might find your city listed below.

Average amount spent on alcohol each month (excluding students who don’t drink)

Top five

1

Aberystwyth

£50.87

2

Plymouth

£50.18

3

Newcastle

£47.60

4

Swansea

£47.26

5

Cardiff

£46.90

Bottom five

1

Canterbury

£29.34

2

Cambridge

£29.76

3

Norwich

£31.10

4

Coventry

£31.41

5

London

£31.44

UK AVERAGE: £38.61

 

Average amount spent on going out each month

Top five

1

Birmingham

£33.40

2

Leeds

£32.10

3

Newcastle

£32

4

Glasgow

£30.60

5

Belfast

£30.50

Bottom five

1

Durham

£18.20

2

York

£19.20

3

Southampton

£19.90

=3

Edinburgh

£19.90

=3

Aberdeen

£19.90

UK AVERAGE: £25.10

 

Average amount spent on clothes, shoes and accessories each month

Top five

1

Stirling

£38.60

2

Birmingham

£37.10

3

Brighton

£36.50

4

Leeds

£34.80

=4

Liverpool

£34.80

Bottom five

1

Durham

£19.10

2

Nottingham

£21.60

3

Norwich

£22.10

4

St Andrews

£22.20

=4

Sheffield

£22.20

UK AVERAGE: £27.40

Lead image: Jon Candy (Flickr)

This article was originally published in July 2017 . It was last updated in June 2019

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As Head of Content, Craig is responsible for all articles and guides published across TopUniversities and TopMBA. He has nearly 10 years of experience writing for a student audience and extensive knowledge of universities and study programs around the world.

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