Postgraduate Student Living Costs in Europe


Europe is a big place and so it’s no wonder that the cost of living can vary dramatically from place to place. The countries that are relatively new to the EU are much cheaper places to live then the more established members of the European Union. Cities like London and Paris can be very expensive to live in and the price of food is so variable across Europe from country to country as well as from city to city.

In the UK the British Council estimates that students need around £600 per month to live on, which covers food accommodation, clothes and other expenses. This differs to other countries. For instance one year’s student living in the UK costs four times what an equivalent student will pay in Germany. So with that in mind let’s see how other countries compare.

Living costs around the EU

Austria is generally considered an expensive place to live but if you are a student cheap accommodation can still be found. The price of a student room in Vienna is approximately €250 per month, and obviously sharing a double room would cost less. Student rooms for foreign students in Graz (the second largest city in Austria) cost between €160 and €400 per month so are comparable with the UK. The OeAD Housing Office (information about student halls of residence in Austria) provides a list of available student accommodation.

Brussels in Belgium is ranked the 18th most expensive city to live in Europe out of 125 European cities. A single student dorm room can still cost over €500 a month and food is not cheap either.

Cyprus is a relatively cheap European option. It costs around €180 for a single room which is more than reasonable, and with the beautiful weather and food it’s a great place to be a student.

Bulgaria was ranked the cheapest city to live in Europe. It’s full of culture and is a great alternative destination for the more unconventional student get away!  Rooms cost as little as €150 a month!

In a recent poll Helsinki the capital of Finland came in as being the 26th most expensive city in Europe, so is not a cheap option. However with zero tuition fees, maybe the extra cost can be absorbed by your savings on study.

Paris in France recently topped the QS list as the best student city in the world, but on the downside it was the 10th most expensive city to live in. Rooms start at around €500 per month for a shared flat in Paris. Study fees are low though so it may be worth going for the great experience. Other French cities are considerably cheaper such as Nantes, Lille and Lyon (which comes in as the 93rd most expensive).

Living expenses in Germany vary considerably. For example student rooms can be found in Leipzig for a tiny €165 per month. Berlin is more expensive averaging around €300-350 per month.

Iceland ’s capital city – Reykjavik – is apparently the 32nd most expensive European city. Student rooms vary between €200 and 500 per month.

Ireland is a relatively cheap place to live especially considering its reputation. The capital city – Dublin – came in as the 57th most expensive city in Europe, that’s around twenty places lower than Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. Rooms in flat-shares average at around €300 per month.

Lithuania is not an expensive place to live. Rooms in the student-friendly capital Vilnius cost between just €90 to €250, and the city itself is only the 102nd most expensive city in Europe.

Italy : Rome in Italy came 14th in the living expenses department whereas other Italian cities like Naples came 105th – so there is a very large difference in living cost in Italy, with the south being cheaper than the north. Rooms in Rome can vary between €300 and €600 a month depending on location.

Luxembourg comes in at 33 on our European cities. It does not charge tuition fees so this may help seal the deal for studying at a postgraduate level in such an expensive place. Rooms for students can be found for a reasonable €400 per month.

Amsterdam, capital of The Netherlands is the 38th most expensive city in Europe so it’s a reasonably expensive county to live in. Amsterdam has a thriving student community however with rooms to be found for as little as €300 a month topping out at €600 a month in more popular areas.

Norway ’s capital Oslo came 7th on a list of most expensive cities to live in the EU. Food is also expensive here,  but travel can be reasonable and study is free. Student rooms start at 2200 NOK or €220.

With all cities in Poland coming in the bottom 50 out of 125 cities for living expense, its easy to see why more people are choosing to study in Poland. Study is free and with rooms in Krakow starting at just €150 it’s a clear choice for those who want to experience European culture on a budget.

Cities in Spain are amongst the most beautiful in Europe and vary in living expense with Valencia being the cheapest and Madrid being the most expensive. This being said you can still find student accommodation in Madrid for as low as €200.

Lisbon in Portugal comes in at 79th in our living cost list which is pretty low! Rooms in Lisbon start at around €250. So if you love the sun as well as the dark library then this could be a good option.

Switzerland is the most expensive place to live in the EU with the city of Zurich topping the list for Europe in 2012 followed closely by Geneva. Rooms in Zurich cost at least €500 in shared flats. 

Sweden does not charge EU members tuition fees which is just as well as it is not a cheap place to live with its capital city Stockholm coming in as the 9th most expensive city in the EU! Rooms start at a not too bad €400.

Don’t forget that there can be huge variation in living costs in one country and even within one city so don’t be put off by these statistics. You may find bargain accommodation if you look hard enough and with some of the most expensive cities on the list also having some of the most affordable courses (ie free!), it’s certainly not a simple decision.

Get a notepad out and start mapping out what you want out of post graduate study, what you want out of a city or a campus and try to marry the two together to find your ideal student destination. Have fun!

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