Alternative cities for student accommodation in the UK

Student accommodation can be tricky to find, more so in some cities than in others. Some UK cities get sold out really quickly because of a lack of supply, and some are really expensive because they get such high demand. But you don’t necessarily have to live in the same city where you study. Check out this article about alternative cities for student accommodation.

In this article we list some viable options for living in a different city than the one where you’ll be studying. Travelling between the cities featured is quick and efficient with trains, and in the alternative city you can find additional options for accommodation. These alternative options could be more suitable for you, and in some cases the rents in the alternative city are also noticeably cheaper.

Read on if you’ll be studying in one of the following cities:

  • London
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Durham
  • Sunderland
  • Warwick
  • Southampton

To find out the best and cheapest ways to travel between your new home city and the city where you’ll be studying, check out our post about affordable transport options for students in the UK.

Alternative city for London: Reading

London is such a big city that there are always hundreds of options for student accommodation. However, it’s also so big that getting from one part of London to another can take quite a long time. Additionally, because of its massive popularity, London can also be really expensive.

If you’ll be studying in London, consider the city of Reading as an alternative accommodation option. Reading is a city west of London, and home to just over 300,000 inhabitants in its urban area. You can get from Reading to London’s Paddington station in about 25 minutes by train. So especially if your university will be easily accessible from Paddington, Reading can be a great alternative to living in London itself. We currently list several good options for student accommodation in Reading, many of which are noticeably cheaper than the average London rents.

A statue of Paddington Bear in Paddington Station in London
You can get from Reading to Paddington Station in London in about 25 minutes.

Alternative city for Manchester: Liverpool

Manchester and Liverpool are both big university cities with lots of fun stuff to do. However, the rents in Liverpool are much cheaper. We currently list 35 different accommodation options in Liverpool for under £150/week, while in Manchester at the moment it can be tricky to find anything that’s under £300/week, with a lot of the cheaper options already being sold out.

The fastest direct trains from Manchester Victoria station to Liverpool Lime Street only take 35 minutes, so commuting between the two cities is perfectly doable. If you’ll be studying in one of the Manchester universities, consider also checking out the options for student accommodation in Liverpool.

A view of Liverpool across the River Mersey
Liverpool is a large city with a lot of fun things to do.

Alternative city for Durham: Newcastle

Durham University is one of the most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom. The third-oldest university in England, it’s always near the top in all the university rankings. Durham itself is quite a small city though, and finding affordable accommodation can be difficult.

Handily for Durham students, the much bigger city of Newcastle is very close by. The fastest train connection from Newcastle to Durham takes only 12 minutes, so commuting between the cities is a breeze. There are many more options for affordable student accommodation in Newcastle than in Durham, with several properties available for under £200/week. If you’ll be studying in Durham, make sure to check out the housing options in Newcastle!

A view of Newcastle with the River Tyne and the Sage Gateshead concert venue
Newcastle is the largest city in North East England.

Alternative city for Sunderland: Newcastle

Like Durham, Sunderland is another smaller city that is located very close to Newcastle. Located in the same Tyne & Wear county as Newcastle, the quickest trains between the two cities take only about 20 minutes.

Unlike some other cities mentioned here, Sunderland is not particularly expensive, but finding suitable accommodation can be tricky, as there is a very limited amount of student accommodation in Sunderland. There are a lot more options available in the bigger Newcastle, so if you’ll be studying at the University of Sunderland, make sure to check out the student accommodation options in Newcastle.

The Angel of the North sculpture outside Newcastle
The Angel of the North is one of the most recognisable icons of the Newcastle area.

Alternative city for Birmingham: Coventry

Birmingham is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom and home to several universities such as the University of Birmingham, Aston University and Birmingham City University. With so many notable universities in the city, there’s a good amount of supply for student accommodation, but naturally also a lot of demand.

If you’re struggling to find suitable housing in Birmingham, consider checking out the options in Coventry. While not quite as big as the very large Birmingham, Coventry is still a well-sized city with more than 600,000 people in its metropolitan area. Coventry is also a very cheap city when it comes to rents. We currently list several options in Coventry for less than £100/week. Travelling to Birmingham is quick and easy, with trains taking about 20 minutes between the two cities. So, if you’re going to study in one of the many Birmingham universities, make sure to also check out student accommodation in Coventry when looking for your new student home.

The Coventry Cathedral and a water fountain
Coventry is one of the many cities in the West Midlands region.

Alternative city for Warwick: Coventry

If you’re going to attend the University of Warwick, you may have already noticed that finding student accommodation in Warwick itself can be next to impossible. The good news is though, that despite its name, the University of Warwick is actually located in Coventry and not Warwick.

Coventry has a lot more options for housing. Currently we list almost 50 different properties that offer student accommodation in Coventry and many of them are very affordable. The University of Warwick is located in the southwestern outskirts of the city, so if you’re looking to attend Warwick University, a good choice is to look for accommodation in that area, or near the city centre where there are good connections through public transport. One great option for Warwick Uni students is Albany Student Village.

Coventry Canal Bridge
Coventry is the closest city to live in for University of Warwick students.

Alternative city for Southampton: Portsmouth

Southampton and Portsmouth are both south coast cities in the county of Hampshire. Located about 20 miles (32 kilometres) apart, trains between the two cities take just over 45 minutes, making Portsmouth a good alternative option for students looking to study at the University of Southampton or Southampton Solent University.

Both cities have some good options available for student housing, but the rents in Portsmouth are generally more affordable. While finding accommodation for under £200/week in Southampton can be very difficult, Portsmouth has several options in this price bracket. So if you’re going to study in Southampton and don’t mind commuting a bit to classes, check out our options for student accommodation in Portsmouth.

A view of the Southampton port during a sunny day
Southampton and Portsmouth are both located on England’s sunny south coast.