Cost of student accommodation can vary by more than £400 per week '“ but it's cheapest up north

By The Newsroom
Friday, 8th September 2017, 10:28 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th September 2017, 3:04 pm

Mass commercial investment in student accommodation has seen 287 new private halls of residence open throughout the UK so far this year, giving students a greater choice of accommodation than ever before. However, latest figures from the UK’s leading student accommodation portal, Accommodation for Students (, reveal the cost of student accommodation can vary substantially (on average by as much as £429 per week), depending on the type of accommodation and location students choose, as well as what expenses are included in the rent.

The average weekly rent for a room in private halls is £168.67, an increase of £2.39 from 2016, and £88.61 in traditional shared student housing, up £1.85 from last year. Despite being on average 90% more expensive, the volume of students living in purpose-built private halls is thought to have more than doubled over the last decade¹, attracted by the more modern living environment and, in many cases, additional facilities available such as gyms, storage space, communal games rooms and parking.

Simon Thompson, Director of Accommodation for Students, says: “International students are especially attracted to private halls because of the ease of booking online, plus there tends to be greater confidence in booking this type of accommodation without viewing it. Last year, only 32% of International students who booked private halls viewed the accommodation, whereas 63% viewed privately rented houses before moving in²”.

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Predictably, London remains the most expensive location for all types of student accommodation, averaging £264.07 a week for private halls and £129 for traditional digs. However, there is also considerable variation in rental values across the city based on factors such as room type and location. For example, the average cost of a studio in private halls is £316.30, £90 more than shared facilities but prices in zone 1 can range from £120 to £489 per week.

The cheapest place to live as a student is once again Wales, where private accommodation is on average £68 per week, 55% less than London and 26% less than the national average. Average regional values also show student accommodation is more affordable in the North of England at £134.68 for private halls and £80.50 for student housing.

Most expensive and affordable cities for traditional student accommodation

The top five cities with the most expensive average weekly rents, which are all concentrated in the South of England are; London (£129), Exeter (£127), High Wycombe (£125), Kingston (£115) and Guildford (£121). Cities with the most affordable student accommodation are: Stockton (£60), Wolverhampton (£62), Newport (£65) Swansea (£67) and Cardiff (£69).

However, London, Sheffield and Cardiff also have the greatest range of rents from highest to lowest - £159, £149 and £140 respectively.

Most expensive and affordable cities for private halls

London (£284.25 per week), Kingston (£243.88), Brighton (£233.30), Bath (£288.11) and Cambridge (£210.98) have on average the most expensive private halls. Bolton (£87.88), Wolverhampton (£98.17), Middlesbrough (£99.40), Bradford (£100.59) and Swansea (£104.53) have the cheapest.

London, Sheffield and Liverpool have seen the great increase in the number of private halls over the last year. On average students in the North of England pay the least for their private halls with the average weekly rent at £134.68, some 22% less than the national average.

Simon Thompson, Director of Accommodation for Students comments “Although private halls are increasingly popular with students, the affordability factor remains a consideration for many. We have seen an increase of properties at both the low and high ends of the market. This increased spread is likely to be due to both the introduction of more luxury student properties but also highlighting that there is still very much a place in the market for more affordable traditional student housing, as living costs and student fees continue to increase.”