The Student Room Group

The Hidden Costs of Studying Abroad: Why City Affordability Matters

Hi there ! :smile:
As an international student about to start on the exciting journey of studying abroad, there's a lot to consider beyond just university fees. For students like myself, coming from South Africa, the financial implications of studying overseas weigh heavily on our decision-making process. That's why it's crucial to consider the affordability of the city you choose to live in, not just the cost of tuition.

When I was selecting universities, I made sure to prioritise my academic needs first. After narrowing down my choices to my top five schools, I turned my attention to the financial aspect. Knowing that I could only work part-time, up to 20 hours a week, to help cover my expenses, I had to assesses the living costs of each city.

Having already lived in London and experienced how expensive rent and general living costs are , I knew it wasn't a feasible option for me to study in a city like that . Instead, I opted for Leicester, a city that offered a more affordable cost of living without compromising on the quality of education or the quality of life.

Here's why considering city affordability is so important for international students:


Cost of Living: The expenses associated with accommodation, groceries, transportation, and leisure activities vary from one city to another. Choosing a city with a lower cost of living can significantly reduce the financial strain and allow you to have a more comfortable student life.


Budgeting for Essentials: With limited working hours, you will need to budget wisely to cover essential expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries. Opting for a more affordable city allows for better financial planning and reduces the risk of you not having the funds to sustain yourself.


Quality of Life: Your overall well-being during your time abroad is dependent on your ability to afford a decent standard of living. For me this includes being able to afford eating out occasionally , joining a good gym and exploring my city and in Leicester I can afford to do this and more.


Financial Independence: Studying abroad is a significant investment, and maintaining financial independence is key. Choosing an affordable city allows you to manage your finances responsibly and reduces reliance on external support. Although my parents bear the brunt of all my finances during the academic year , over the summers I’m able to work extra and rely a lot less on them and living in Leicester makes that possible for me.

To my fellow international students, I advise you to consider and prioritise city affordability when making your university decisions. While academic reputation and program offerings are essential, they shouldn't overshadow the financial realities of student life abroad. Take the time to research and compare living costs, weigh your options carefully, and choose a city that aligns with your budget and lifestyle preferences. Your future self will thank you for it. If you have any more question please do pop them down below and I hope this helps.

Energy Engineering student
De Montfort University

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