• Cardiff tops the NatWest Student Living Index as most affordable
  • Average student incomes increased by 65% compared to 2021
  • Outgoing costs for students are 29% higher than last year
  • Edinburgh is the only UK city where student spend outweighs their income


The index (PDF 1.5MB) takes account of student spending and income to calculate a score for university towns and cities across the UK.


This year has shown that household bills have more than doubled for students with an average cost of £56.45 per month, with supermarket spending accounting for the single biggest monthly outlay at £76.29 each month.


Edinburgh has the highest cost of student living. Students in the Scottish capital have a monthly term-time income of £934, the lowest of all the cities ranked, whilst their total monthly spending is at £949. Edinburgh students are the least likely to combine studying and working during the academic term.


In contrast, Cardiff tops the list of UK cities for the best value for money. Below average rent prices combined with higher-than-average term-time incomes contributed to Cardiff being named the most affordable student city.  


Laura Behan, Head of NatWest Student Accounts said:

“Despite the cost of living increasing dramatically, we’ve not seen that hit students quite as hard as may have been expected this year. Rents were set well in advance of the academic year and inflation increased much later into the academic year.


“However, with the cost of living increasing, especially as we look towards the start of the new university year in September, it is vital that students properly manage their finances. We offer a range of tools to help, including spend categorisation in our mobile app so students can see exactly where their money is going every month and a Round Ups tool to help develop a strong savings habit.”


Term time income for Cardiff students averages at £2241.65 and is the fifth highest of all the cities surveyed. They spend an average of £1,041 in total – the fourth lowest of all the cities in the Student Living Index.


The NatWest Student Living Index (PDF 1.5MB) surveyed 2,964 students across the UK to determine the most affordable place to study. The survey accounts for factors such as how much students spend on going out to income through part-time work.


Oxford is now the most expensive place for a pint, with students expecting to pay £5.50 per drink, closely followed by London with an expected cost of £4.90. In comparison to Durham where students can expect to pay just £3.20 and Coventry at £3.40.


Students studying in London and Manchester were the most likely to rely on parents or family for income. London students received £295.10 more from this source than the UK average of £334.40 and those in Manchester £193.10. Compared to 2021, Oxbridge students are relying less on parents and family to pay rent and more so on bursaries and scholarships in 2022.


When it came to budgeting, over a third (35%) of students have found themselves running out of money by the end of term – 8% higher than in 2021. Just under one in five students said that they find managing their money stressful, and this the most pronounced in Coventry. Students in Cambridge are the most likely to put away month each month, 82% higher than the UK average.   


Perhaps in response to Covid-19 restrictions ending, compared to 2021 students are spending an average of 63% more on going out than the previous year.


A quarter of students felt that their universities do nothing to help with the ongoing cost of living crisis. Durham had the highest number of students who felt they had no support from their university at 56%.


Addressing the cost of living challenges, almost nine in ten (88%) students have made lifestyle changes to live within their budgets, with reducing the number of items bought online the most widely adopted change.


Changes to how students shop in the supermarket have also been a factor, with 46% saying they’ve swapped to own-brands. Meanwhile, 43% said they were buying fewer takeaways.


The NatWest Student account offers a £80 cash incentive within the first 30 days of opening the account, a four-year tastecard membership and a £2000 interest free overdraft. NatWest also offers free Financial Health checks to help students to organise their finances.


Find out more at www.natwest.com/students        


Click here to download the full report (PDF 1.5MB). 

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