Discover the best UK cities for students


Choosing the right university is an important step in any student’s academic career. The UK has always been a popular destination for higher education for both local and international students.

Fresh Student Living has looked into which cities are best for affordability, employability, education and overall happiness and satisfaction, and here's what they found.

Belfast Named Happiest City

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In a survey carried out by Sodexo, thousands of students were asked to rate how they felt about certain aspects of student life, including standards of education, nightlife affordability and stress levels.

The survey found that Belfast is home to the happiest students in Britain, with an impressive 94% of its students stating that they’re ‘very happy’ with their education and social life. Brighton came in second with 93%, followed by Coventry with 92%. 

1. Belfast – 94%
2. Brighton – 93%
3. Coventry – 92%
4. Wolverhampton – 91%
5. Swansea – 90%
6. Leeds – 89%
7. Aberystwyth – 87%
8. Birmingham – 86%
9. Bristol – 85% 

Cardiff is the Cheapest City for Students

According to Natwest Student Living Index, Cardiff is the cheapest UK city for students. The Welsh capital is closely followed by Aberdeen and Durham as the most cost-effective cities for students. Canterbury, Swansea, Manchester, Reading, Leicester, York and Sheffield make up the rest of the list. Almost 3,500 students across 35 popular universities were surveyed to determine the most affordable place to study. Numerous factors were considered, including the cost of food, rent, and bills like utilities and transport, how much time was spent studying, working and socialising, and how much term-time income they receive. 

Turns out, the biggest expenditure for students is food shopping and household items, which costs about £78.10 a month, while an average student spends around £43.30 on socialising and entertainment. Students in Reading seem to spend the most time socialising at 38.6 hours a month, while Aberystwyth students spend the most money on alcohol at £50.87 a month. This is compared to the national average of £38.61.