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Cardiff – The UK’s Most Affordable City for Students

25 November 2019

Cardiff is home to incredible arts centres, theatres, entertainment, bars and restaurants and – best of all – it doesn’t break the bank.

In fact, Cardiff is the UK’s most affordable city for student living, as the NatWest Student Living Index 2019 results show.

The Index surveyed over 3,500 students from across 35 UK cities and asked them to record how much they spend on food, rent and social expenses and how much term-time income they receive from student loan and employment.

We chatted with RWCMD Students’ Union President Nia Thomas about her experience in Cardiff and the important outgoings to consider as a student:

“I’ve lived in Cardiff for four years while studying at RWCMD and loved it so much that I decided to stay on after graduation. I found Cardiff such an amazing place to study and live.

Before accepting my place, I spent time looking around and comparing other UK cities, and have really found that Cardiff definitely has the most to offer for the lowest living costs.”

Student Accommodation
The College’s Halls of Residence is £132 per week (2020/2021) including all bills. Alternatively, a shared house in the city needs a budget of around £300 a month for rent and £50 for bills.

Food Shop
Halls are within handy walking distance of a Tesco Express on North Road or a Lidl on Maindy Road with other supermarkets only a short bus ride or 20-minute walk away.

As a rough guide a weekly shop will cost between £30-£40 with an additional £5-£10 on toiletries and laundry (these are guide costs only, actual cost will vary from student to student).

Getting Around
Cardiff is a small but busy city and the centre is walkable from one side to the other in under 20 minutes.

To get further afield bike rentals are dotted around the city with 50 stations and 500 bikes to hire at any time.

There are dedicated cycle routes from Halls to College with secure bike sheds opposite the Anthony Hopkins Centre, and further routes beyond to the popular Cardiff Bay and Cathays when you’re finished at College for the day.

Some Drama teaching will take place at our Llanishen Studios, which is just a short bus ride from the College. A weekly ticket from Cardiff Bus is £15 and students aged 16-21 can apply for a pass to reduce the cost to £9.60 (prices correct as of October 2019).

“My favourite thing about living in Cardiff is that the rent is comparitively cheap and most things are within walking distance.

I’ve lived in the heart of the ‘student hub’ for five years and RWCMD and the city centre has never been more than a short walk away from my house which makes for an easy commute.”

You’ll never be short on social activities in Cardiff, with free museums and parks and a huge choice of bars and restaurants. Around £30 a week will be enough but this can vary depending on what you choose to do.

The city also provides a wealth of fitness options. Halls are only a short walk to Maindy Leisure Centre, which houses a swimming pool, gym, cycle track and various classes for £26 a month (student membership October 2019).

“Bute Park, which surrounds the College is perfect for a quick walk in the middle of the day to de-stress. Having green spaces made a big difference to me while studying.”

Other Expenditure
Other costs to remember are your mobile phone, clothing and a TV licence. Should you wish to access any form of streamed programmes in your room you will need to purchase your own licence. Cost of a licence is £154.50 for 12 months (figure correct as of October 2019).

Note that communal areas in halls of residence include a TV licence.

Don’t forget that your RWCMD ID card is accepted at many shops and restaurants and NUS offers a more extensive range of discounts through the TOTUM card, too. Free apps such as UNIDAYS and Student Beans also regularly hold offers.