With the cost of living increasing, it’s important to know which university cities are the most expensive to live in, and which are the least. Currently, student loans in the UK do not change based on location, so it’s worth thinking about how much you might need to live in one city, compared to others. Thankfully, a recent study from Save the Student has revealed the UK regions with the highest and lowest cost of living for students, making it that much easier to find the right university city and budget!

UK regions with the highest living cost

UK regions with the highest and lowest cost of living
Source: John Smith, Pexels

It comes as no surprise that London was found to have the highest cost of living for students. At just over £1,089 per month, the cost of living is likely to be high due to the increased rent that comes with living in England’s capital city.

Coming in just behind London are the South West of England and East of England. Given their proximity to London, this is unsurprising, with their average monthly living costs reaching £962 and £959 respectively.

The South West of England includes the likes of Bristol and Exeter University, while the East of England is home to the University of Cambridge, University of Bedfordshire and the University of East Anglia. It’s clear these regions are student hotspots, with major universities located in each. This means that for those studying – or planning to study – in London, the South West or East of England, learning how to budget a university is even more important!

UK regions with the lowest living cost

The four UK regions with the lowest in living costs are significantly cheaper.  The cheapest region is the West Midlands, home to leading universities like University of Birmingham, Coventry University and University of Wolverhampton. Here the cost of living is over £250 cheaper than London at £822 on average per month. So, for any students living in this region, you got a good deal!

UK regions with the highest and lowest cost of living
Source: Harry Shum, Pexels

Following the West Midlands is the East Midlands (£832), Northern Ireland (£836) and the North East of England (£837).

The UK regions which are in the middle of the cost-of-living scale are:

  • Wales (£852)
  • Yorks/Humber (£906)
  • Scotland (£932)
  • North West of England (£933)
  • South East of England (£935)

However, it’s important to mention that in all these regions there will be fluctuations in cost-of-living prices per month. The study used the averages costs for students for each region. This includes students who live away and those students that live at home with their parents.

Student Spending

The study highlighted that despite inflated cost of living in the UK, the current student Maintenance Loan have not been adjusted accordingly to accommodate this.

Student spending across the UK has been averaged at £924 per month, for all amenities and household needs. This is a 14% increase from previous years, demonstrating the impact of the increasing cost of living on student populations in the UK. However, the Maintenance Loan does not meed this demand, falling short by £439. This figure has increased by £100 from the previous year, where the loan fell short by £340 in 2021.

Rent was the biggest expense for the majority of students, eating up 45% of their overall monthly budget. Given the current increasing rent prices coinciding with the cost of living crisis, certain university cities such as Edinburgh are having troubles with student housing. Students have been forced to couch-surf for the first half of term, or longer, due to accommodation shortages in the city.

UK regions with the highest and lowest cost of living
Source: Jack Sparrow, Pexels

Utilities and food were the second biggest expense for UK students, at a combined average of £180 per month. Alongside rises in food prices, the cost of utility bills and transport have also increased. Both utilities and transport increased the most from 2020 to 2021. With the continued increasing cost of living across the UK, more government assistance is being called upon.

Government assistance

The UK government has set an energy cap at £2,500 per year for the average household, which includes student housing. Although this cap is going to be carried out for the next two years, £2,500 is almost double average household bills in previous years. This puts people in an even more vulnerable position, despite government efforts to mitigate the effect of rising energy prices on households. Students are amongst those affected, and more government help is needed. The £400 energy discount, although a step in the right direction, is still not reaching the standard of help needed by people to meet these impossible energy prices.

For many students, given that maintenance loans have failed to increase alongside cost-of-living, present government help is not nearly enough.