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14 Best University Cities in the UK for Renters

For those who are now in the process of choosing a university, but need more help making their minds up, we’ve put together a list of the best university cities in the UK for students looking to rent property. The data used is taken from home.co.uk’s property search tool and aims to present the most advantageous universities for renters.

We’ve dealt before with issues to do with finding the best rental properties, such as the best places to rent in London. We’ve even attempted to answer the grand question of whether or not it’s worth renting in the UK at all. However, our current research focuses on the needs of students. With the well-known fact that students usually work on tight budgets in mind, we’ve ranked universities from cheapest average rent to most expensive.

Average rent ranking:

University of Sheffield £863 pcm  
University of Coventry £917 pcm
University of Birmingham £1,028 pcm
University of Cardiff £1,067 pcm
University of Manchester £1,103 pcm
University of Newcastle   £1,104 pcm
University of Nottingham   £1,144 pcm 
University of Leeds     £1,237 pcm
University of Glasgow £1,246 pcm
University of Bristol  £1,537 pcm
University of Edinburgh £1,669 pcm  
University of Brighton  £1,676 pcm
University College London  £3,363 pcm
King’s College London £5,953 pcm

Of course, anyone who has ever looked for rental properties during late July and August will tell you that the market is absolutely flooded by prospective tenants during the period when most universities begin their fall term. Thus, the best university cities in the UK for students looking to rent will also ideally have a large number of properties on the market year-round. With this in mind, we’ve also ranked the previous universities in order of properties available around the campus location.  

Number of properties for rent close to the university campus:

University of Coventry   1,630
University of Newcastle 1,537
University College London 1,517
University of Leeds 1,153
University of Sheffield 938
University of Cardiff 929
King’s College London  868
University of Birmingham   572
University of Manchester 287
University of Edinburgh 199
University of Brighton 158
University of Nottingham 106
University of Glasgow 109
University of Bristol 101

Analysis of Results:

The University of Sheffield tops our list of best universities for student renters with both the lowest average rent (£863 pcm) as well as the 5th highest number of available properties to let within a 1-mile radius of the main university campus.

The University of Coventry comes in second with regards to average rent (£917). However, students wishing to enrol in one of the courses offered by CU will be spoilt for choice when it comes to the sheer number of properties available for rent – Coventry tops this ranking with 1,630 available properties.

University of Birmingham students will not be looking at sky-high rents as the institution comes in 3rd in our ranking. Nevertheless, they will only be able to choose from a selection of listings containing about three times fewer rental properties than University of Coventry enrolees. For a university which is home to more than 20,000 undergraduates, according to official estimates, many fresh undergrads will find it difficult to find suitable accommodation near enough to the university’s main campus.  

The University of Cardiff is home to approximately 23,000 undergraduate students. They would need to pay £1,067 pcm on average in order to rent a property in the city. While this is a slightly higher average than that which University of Birmingham students would be looking at, those opting for the Welsh capital would have more options available to them when it comes to rental properties within a 1-mile radius of the main university campus. During the weeks leading up to the start of the academic year, this could translate to less of a spike in prices for those looking to find accommodation closer to campus.

While the University of Manchester places in a respectable 5th in the average rent ranking, students who choose the Northern university could find it quite challenging to secure accommodation within a 1-mile radius of the school’s campus. With an undergraduate student body of approximately 27,500, the 287 properties available for rent in proximity to the university’s main campus will definitely fill up quite fast. That’s 95 undergraduates battling it out for a single property!    

With an average rent figure only £1 higher than that of the University of Manchester, the University of Newcastle looks like a much better option for students looking to rent their own place. This is because there are 1,250 more available properties in the Geordie city than there are in Manchester.  

While properties around the University of Nottingham hover around the same price point as the two universities ranked above it (£40 higher than the University of Newcastle and £41 more expensive when compared to the University of Manchester), students opting for the Queen of the Midlands will soon realise than finding a property next to the main university campus is next to impossible – only 106 homes to rent can be found within a 1-mile radius of the University of Nottingham campus. The 24,587 undergraduate student enrolment figures translate to about 231 students for a single property!

The University of Leeds might only come in 8th in our cheapest average rent ranking but it features the highest number of properties within a 1-mile radius of the main university campus among universities in the bottom half of the table. An average rent of £1,237 pcm will definitely scare some off, however, 1,153 properties for rent in close proximity to the UL campus, the school’s 27,000 strong undergraduate student body will most likely be spoilt for choice, considering many of them will be living on campus.

While the University of Glasgow and the University of Bristol are the last two ranked in terms of properties available with a 1-mile radius of the university campus, there is quite a difference in average rent level between the two. Properties in Bristol are £291 more expensive on average, meaning that students who aren’t bothered by the fierce competition for accommodation near the university campus should probably go for the English city over the Scottish one out of purely financial considerations.

Properties around the University of Edinburgh and the University of Brighton come in at similar price points. What’s more, both schools have a similar number of available rentals in close proximity to the main university campus. Brighton has an undergraduate student body of 17,700 with 158 properties close to the campus, while Edinburgh has an undergraduate student body close to 26,000 strong with 199 rental properties available to them. This makes the two universities quite similar for students who want to rent a place out during their studies, with about 120 students for a single property.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bottom two higher education institutions when it comes to cheapest average rental properties are both located in central London. University College London is the clear winner though, offering 1,517 properties within a 1-mile radius of the main college campus, compared to the 868 which can be found in proximity to King’s College London. What’s more, a huge difference can be noticed between the average rent rates – renting close to UCL is, on average, £2,590 cheaper than renting near King’s.

Choose Wisely!

Equipped with this newfound knowledge of rental rates and available rental properties in each of these 14 big UK university cities, we hope you’ll have an easier time choosing the right university for you.

Something to keep in mind if you’re trying to decide between buying or renting a property during your studies:

Renting is always the best option for students, especially those moving to a different city for their studies. Even if you have access to the necessary funds, buying a house close to your university could mean that, once you decide to move back to your home city or somewhere else for work after you’ve completed your studies, you could be faced with the inconvenient task of selling your house fast for a good price – something which isn’t always possible. However, if you do decide that buying is the best option for you, check out our guide on the most important 12 house buying considerations!

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