Choosing where to study often centres around tuition costs and what the location has to offer – but a new report showing that accommodation is the second-biggest cost for students after tuition might be another thing to consider.
The report, which surveyed 120,000 students in 125 cities around the globe, found significant discrepancies between the cost of accommodation in different study abroad countries, and even large variations between different cities in the same region.
Australia came out top for the most expensive country, cashing in a whole 19 percent higher than the average global student accommodation rate of US$214 a week.
Students can expect to pay out AU$407 (US$305) a week on student digs in Sydney, home to the University of Sydney, Australia’s oldest university ranked 50th in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2018.
Melbourne and Adelaide take joint second as most expensive Australian city, with accommodation costing AU$323 (US$242) a week.
The high accommodation costs in Australia offer an extreme contrast – and perhaps an explanation – to the low cost, illegal housing currently afflicting international students across the region.
Students have reported having to settle for unsafe and overcrowded accommodation situations, where up to eight people are sharing a room with only cardboard separating the beds, or even having to squat in abandoned properties with rats and maggots as roommates.
International students who come from less wealthy countries hoping to study on a budget are disproportionately affected by this spectrum of accommodation. Unable to afford the sky-high costs in registered rentals, they have no choice but to settle for low-cost options, often putting their wellbeing and safety on the line.
The new victims of Australia’s housing crisis. 11,000 tertiary students left with no permanent, secure place to live. We need more low-cost rentals for people on very low incomes. #EverybodysHome https://t.co/JvaxU5mqAu
— CHPVic (@CHPVic) April 14, 2018
Although Australia is the most expensive country overall, the US features eight times in the 20 most expensive cities for accommodation, including the two most expensive cities in the world ahead of Sydney.
The two cities with the highest accommodation costs, Boston and New York, will set students back US$464 and US$404 per week respectively.
To call one of these pretty lights home comes at a cost. Source: Giphy
With Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ranked the best university in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2019, and Harvard Business School located in Boston, students looking to study at the prime institutions may have to fork out for high rent on top of tuition and living costs.
But the US does offer some lower cost options, with nine locations standing among the 20 least expensive cities in the world.
Oxford in Ohio and Murfreesboro in Tennessee are the two most inexpensive student cities, with accommodation costing only US$124 and US$123 per week. Although these destinations aren’t renowned for their prestigious institutions, they offer a solid alternative for students looking to study abroad on a budget.
The UK slots in between the US and Australia both at the high and low end of the accommodation cost spectrum.
London features just below New York and above Sydney, with accommodation costing US$339 per week.
This could have severe financial implications for international students looking to study at one of the four London universities featured in the QS World University Rankings, given that London is already expected to cost students at least GB£250 (US$326) more than elsewhere in the UK.
Despite London being one of the most expensive cities for accommodation in the world, the price of rent has fallen US$2.5 from last year, according to Student.com, showing a promising change from increasing rent each year.
The UK follows a similar trend to the US, with cities featuring in both the 20 highest and 20 lowest accommodation costs in the world.
Derby ranks tenth lowest in the UK, with one week’s rent costing only US$115 while studying in Sunderland will set students back US$121 per week.
The rest of the world
Singapore is the third cheapest country to live in for accommodation according to the report. This contrasts with Singapore’s rank in the Expatistan Cost of Living Index at 26th most expensive state in the world.
Whilst I 100% agree students do need affordable living, my entire job is around student experience in accommodation. Students do also need to understand that some of the things they expect and demand are high cost. There needs to be a compromise on what to expect on a budget.
— Kassie Stringer (@KassieStringer) June 20, 2018
Spain and Germany are also good options for students on a budget, as they both feature cities in the 20 least expensive list, and do not appear on the most expensive list.
France and Canada both lay in the middle of the tables with neither their most or least expensive university city making it high up the charts.
France has less than US$100 between its most and least expensive city, making it a good choice for students who want consistent quality wherever they end up.