Students will have a little less to worry about this year as the cost of living around the country has dropped by 4%, according to NatWest’s Student Living Index. On the whole students are finding UK cities more affordable, with Cardiff coming top as the most affordable city, closely followed by Manchester, Liverpool, Southampton and Bristol. At the other end of the scale, students in London, Edinburgh and Aberystwyth see the worst value for money during their studies.

Student income

Students in the most affordable cities are also taking home some of the highest monthly incomes, with students in Bristol enjoying an average of £1387.20, followed by students in Manchester (£1373.90) and Cardiff (£1321.80). Students in Belfast have the lowest rent at £325.90 followed by Dundee at £374.10 and Cardiff £378.40 – all below the national average of £1119.90. Meanwhile, student rents across all cities in the South East rose between 5 – 15% in the past year, with rents in London 44% higher than the national average at £700, followed by Brighton (£569.70) and Oxford (£545.40). Average monthly income for students in London fell by £400 in the past year to £1,197.20, whilst students in Aberystwyth report the lowest monthly income at £849.50 – 24% below the national average.

Students in Oxford, St Andrews and Durham are most likely to get a financial boost from parents, receiving an average of £314.87 per term. While students in Manchester, Poole and Aberdeen are the most financially independent earning the most each month at £167.70, £163.00 and £157.60, respectively, through part-time work.

Student spending

Compared to last year students are spending an average of £15 less per month on household bills, and overall there’s been a decline in alcohol spend. Students at Aberystwyth University have overtaken those at Newcastle as the highest spenders on alcohol, forking out £50.80 per month. While students in Liverpool spend the most on a night out, with 22% spending more than £30 last time they went out.

Finance and budgeting

Generally finances are front of mind with 95% of respondents saying they have at least thought about budgeting and how they spend their money. Nearly a quarter (22%) say they budget carefully and keep track of what they spend and only 6% say they don’t consider what they’re spending at all. 43% of all students surveyed said they run out of money before the end of the semester, and of those who do 32% said they ease the pressure by dipping into an overdraft.

Bruno Genovese, Head of Student Accounts at NatWest, said: “This year 60% of students said they don’t get the support they need to help them manage their finances, with 1 in 4 UK students saying they find managing their money stressful.

“At NatWest, our main priority is to help students stay on top of their finances throughout their studies and the Student Living Index helps students to see how they might budget dependent on where they study.”

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