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Postgraduate Living Costs in the UK

Your postgraduate fees will account for a large proportion of the cost of your Masters degree. They won’t be all you have to pay, however.

You’ll need to cover accommodation expenses as well as food, drink, entertainment and other living costs – just as you did during your undergraduate degree. After all, your lifestyle may change slightly as a Masters student, but you’ll still need to put food on the table and a roof over your head (the university library doesn’t count!).

This page will give you an idea of the postgraduate living costs you’re likely to encounter in the UK’s major university cities, including average accommodation prices.

UK student living costs

The most important factors shaping your living costs during a Masters will be related to your lifestyle and circumstances. What kind of accommodation will you be living in? Do you go out often? How often will you need to travel away from your university?

We can’t predict these, but we can give you some sense of representative student living costs in different UK university cities. You can use this information to broadly compare options for postgraduate study. It could also help you decide whether living near your university will be more expensive than commuting from home (or opting for a distance learning Masters).

The following table is based on crowdsourced data for what we think are typical student living costs in different cities (there’s more detail on how we’ve calculated these below).


Living costs in UK university cities
City Monthly Cost City Monthly Cost
Aberdeen £860 Hull £745
Aberystwyth £630 Inverness £825
Bath £1,200 Lancaster £770
Belfast £820 Leeds £860
Birmingham £900 Leicester £800
Bolton £805 Lincoln £775
Bournemouth £875 Liverpool £825
Bradford £675 London £1,700
Brighton £1,175 Luton £955
Bristol £1,050 Manchester £975
Buckingham £915 Middlesbrough £835
Cambridge £1,115 Newcastle £810
Canterbury £930 Northampton £825
Cardiff £850 Norwich £830
Carlisle £645 Nottingham £850
Chelmsford £890 Oxford £1,200
Cheltenham £1,150 Plymouth £780
Chester £730 Portsmouth £915
Colchester £885 Preston £715
Coventry £900 Reading £1,060
Derby £730 Sheffield £855
Dundee £755 Southampton £925
Durham £845 St Andrews £1,120
Edinburgh £1,010 Sunderland £745
Exeter £875 Swansea £750
Glasgow £830 Wolverhampton £740
Guildford £1,175 Worcester £810
Huddersfield £700 York £940

The information is based on crowdsourced data submitted to Numbeo and calculated using their cost of living estimator.

We’ve based our examples on an individual student sharing in a three-bedroom city centre property, purchasing a monthly travel pass and going out approximately once a week with other optional expenses (eating out, coffee, clothing purchases, etc) kept to a minimum.

Needless to say, this information is only meant as a very general guide. Most universities have their own pages dedicated to student living costs in their city, so it’s worth looking those up.

Estimating your own postgraduate living costs

Sadly, we don't know you well enough to work out your personal student budget. But you do. Your living expenses as a postgraduate won't have changed that much since your first degree. Bear this in mind when estimating postgraduate living costs.

Accommodation costs

If you’re not living at home during your Masters, the biggest financial outlay (other than your tuition fees) will be on accommodation. You’ll want to know that you’re getting good value for money – and that your property meets your needs as a postgraduate.

The big choice you’ll have to make is between university-owned accommodation and the private rental market. We’ve covered the main differences between them below.

University-owned accommodation

Many UK universities offer halls of residence specifically for postgraduates. The cost of this will normally be around £100-150 a week (expect higher in London). Although postgraduate university accommodation is usually more expensive than the private equivalent, remember that bills are normally included in the price.

The cost of university-owned accommodation typically depends on how many people you’re sharing the flat or studio with and whether you have an en-suite bathroom, as well as whether the accommodation is catered or self-catered.

Demand for postgraduate accommodation often outstrips supply, so you should apply as soon as possible and have a plan B in case you don’t manage to secure housing through your university.

Private accommodation

If university accommodation isn’t available (or desirable) you’ll need to rent privately. The cost for this will vary dramatically between different cities and even within them.

Even though private accommodation may sometimes be cheaper than university housing, bear in mind that the rent won’t usually include any bills. You should also take care to make sure that you’re renting from a reputable landlord. Some universities maintain a list of approved, reliable landlords and agencies, so it’s a good idea to talk to them about that.

In the table below we’ve included average rents for someone sharing a three-bedroom, city centre property, based on crowdsourced data from Numbeo.

Rent in UK university cities
City Monthly Cost City Monthly Cost
Aberdeen £360 Hull £305
Aberystwyth £260 Inverness £335
Bath £615 Lancaster £275
Belfast £375 Leeds £415
Birmingham £425 Leicester £330
Bolton £390 Lincoln £280
Bournemouth £435 Liverpool £345
Bradford £240 London £1,060
Brighton £615 Luton £425
Bristol £520 Manchester £490
Buckingham £440 Middlesbrough £375
Cambridge £585 Newcastle £345
Canterbury £400 Northampton £300
Cardiff £365 Norwich £340
Carlisle £185 Nottingham £345
Chelmsford £480 Oxford £710
Cheltenham £625 Plymouth £310
Chester £320 Portsmouth £430
Colchester £400 Preston £265
Coventry £375 Reading £530
Derby £245 Sheffield £375
Dundee £285 Southampton £440
Durham £335 St Andrews £620
Edinburgh £505 Sunderland £275
Exeter £385 Swansea £250
Glasgow £375 Wolverhampton £230
Guildford £630 Worcester £350
Huddersfield £260 York £420

Understanding postgraduate accommodation

You could have a few different housing options available for your Masters, including postgraduate-specific halls as well as general student dormitories and various types of privately rented accommodation. Our guide to choosing postgraduate accommodation provides more information.

Last updated - 15/01/2021

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